Mexican campesino rights activist América del Valle applied for political asylum at the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico City on the morning of June 23, citing “four years of unceasing political persecution.” Del Valle is a member of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT), a campesino movement that formed in 2001 and successfully opposed plans to build a new international airport on farmlands in and around San Salvador Atenco municipality northeast of Mexico City in México state.
América del Valle’s father, Ignacio del Valle Medina, and 11 other FPDT members are serving lengthy prison sentences stemming from a May 3-4, 2006 confrontation between police and Atenco campesinos which resulted in the deaths of two protesters, 209 arrests and accusations that police agents systematically beat and sexually abused prisoners. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) is currently reviewing the FPDT members’ cases, but América del Valle said while the court might reduce some sentences or release a few prisoners, “the reality is that injustice will prevail.” (Latin American Herald Tribune, June 24 from EFE; Adital, Brazil, June 25)
1997 Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams and 10 other Nobel peace laureates have expressed support for the Atenco prisoners. The other signers are: Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984) and Frederick de Klerk (1993), South Africa; Mairead Carrigan Maguire (1976), Betty Williams (1976) and John Hume (1998), Ireland; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), Argentina; Elie Wiesel (1986), Romania; Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Guatemala; Shirin Ebadi (2003), Iran; Wangari Maathai (2004), Kenya. “Behind each one of these signatures there are legions of activists,” Jody Williams, a US citizen who lived in Mexico for two years when she was a teenager, told the Mexican daily La Jornada on June 25. (LJ, June 26)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 27.
See our last post on Mexico.