Demonstrations in support of the Mactumactzá students.
By: Elio Henríquez
San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas
The 74 students from the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School, (a teachers college for indigenous and campesino students), arrested on May 18 were released yesterday afternoon (Sunday, May 23) from the El Amate prison after a Chiapas Judicial Branch judge decided their conditional release and set them for trial, for which they will have to sign in every 15 days.
Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, who is part of the team of lawyers of Section 7 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), part of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), said that “there is great concern because either way the students are being subjected to criminal proceedings (trials), and a purely academic demand that has to do with the launching of a call and the realization of an in-person exam is being judicialized and criminalized.”
He said that this student demand “is resolvable through political dialogue and agreement, which is why we do not see the viability of it be taken to the criminal arena.” The 74 normalistas left the prison located in the municipality of Cintalapa at 4 pm.
He stated that the case of the 19 men, among them two indigenous men displaced from Chenalhó, will be resolved in next Tuesday’s hearing. Like their companions released this Sunday, they are accused of rioting, gang activity, violent robbery, attacks against the peace and the corporal and patrimonial integrity of the community and the state, and damages.
Rosales Sierra explained that the continuation of the hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but “the Section 7 lawyers saw it pertinent, due to inconsistencies in the case, to waive the constitutional term and request that it be held as soon as possible; as a consequence, the judge agreed that it be held on Sunday.”
He commented that: “the debate was centered on the evidence against the students, the shortcomings that compañeros see in the file and the illicit evidence that was gathered, but the judge did not take into account the arguments that the CNTE compañeros were able to present, they were not considered and what he did was to issue an order of committal to trial.”
A source from the Judicial Branch confirmed that the judge in the case also established “restrictions for those involved, prohibiting them from activism at toll booths or on highways.”
The 91 normalistas from Mactumactzá and four displaced individuals from Chenalhó, among them two already-released minors, were detained on May 18 when they occupied the toll booth on the San Cristóbal-Tuxtla Gutiérrez highway to demand that the admission exam be taken in person and not online.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada on Monday, May 24, 2021
English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas
Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee