On May 27, América del Valle, leader of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land, in hiding since the May 3 violence at San Salvador Atenco, spoke to the international Telesur TV network from a clandestine location. She said the human rights violations against the people of Atenco demonstrate that Mexican President Vicente Fox wants to show he “maintains a firm and strong hand over those at the bottom,” before he steps down from power. She said the police violence at her village was an attempt to “intimidate” Mexicans who stand up for their rights.
“In this country, when someone stands up for their rights, when they fight for the rights of their people, the system feels attacked and responds by persecuting those people and their causes. It wants to annihilate them,” added del Valle.
Del Valle’s father has been in custody since the protests on May 3. “Right now, there is an arrest warrant over my head, which could mean prison time for me,” she said.
On May 25, Amnesty International released a report denouncing the “countless cases of human rights violations” that remain unresolved in Mexico, while Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission is moving ahead with an investigation into the events at Atenco. Ironically, the controversy comes just as Mexico has been nominated to the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council. (Telesur, May 27)
On May 28, thousands gathered at Mexico City’s Angel of Independence plaza for a rally led by Zapatista Subcommander Marcos to demand freedom for the Atenco prisoners, 27 of whom remain on hunger strike. (La Jornada, May 29)
The facetiously-acronymed Coordinadora Insurreccional Anarquista (Anarchist Insurrectional Coordinating Body, or CIA) was among the many Mexican activist groups which have released statements in solidarity with Atenco.
The daily La Jornada reports mobilizations in solidarity with Atenco from Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and elsewhere around the Americas. (La Jornada, May 25)
All sources online at Chiapas95.
See our last post on the Mexico crisis.
March for Atenco prisoners
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 4:
Thousands of people marched in Mexico City on May 28 to demand the release of prisoners arrested in a May 3-4 confrontation and police sweep in Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco municipalities northeast of the capital and justice for the victims of police brutality against the prisoners, including the sexual abuse of women prisoners. A total of 209 people were arrested; 181 have been released, and 28 remained in the Santiaguito la Loma prison in Toluca, Mexico state, as of June 3.
The march, which included the actress Ofelia Medina, “Delegate Zero” (the former “Sub-Commander Marcos”) of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the 181 released prisoners, was the largest of numerous solidarity demonstrations held in Mexico and around the world since the arrests. The organizers said 50,000 to 60,000 people participated; the Mexico City Public Security Secretariat estimated 8,000 at the beginning of the march but declined to give an estimate later. (LJ, May 29, June 3)
Virtually all the prisoners have reported brutal beatings by the state and federal police who arrested them. On May 13 Juan de Dios Hernandez Monge, the legal representative of the 47 women prisoners, reported that “at least 30 had the problem of having been raped by penetration by penis, fingers or other objects.” One man was raped with a nightstick, according to Hernandez Monge. (LJ, May 14)