Mexico: Atenco political prisoner speaks

Letter from Ignacio del Valle, La Palma federal prison, Mexico state, via Narco News, May 7:

Introduction: Brief Synopsis of the Struggles in Atenco

One year after the brutal police attack against the town of San Salvador Atenco in Mexico, sentences of 67 years were handed down to three leaders of the People’s Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), Ignacio Del Valle, Felipe Alvarez, and Hector Galindo in retaliation for the town’s effective resistance to the expropriation of its lands for the purpose of building a regional airport.


On May 3 and 4, 2006, two young boys were killed in Atenco and Texcoco and 207 people imprisoned, most of whom were subjected to cruel tortures including the rape of 26 women on a 6-hour bus ride, yet not one police murderer or torturer has been brought to justice. All year long, 28 people have been in prison, never having been released on bail, and 172 still face charges (most of them for blocking a highway and 26 for kidnapping).

The three FPDT leaders were tried and condemned for the offense of kidnapping, a highly exaggerated charge having to do with the detention of public officials for short periods of time in February and April of 2006. The three men still face other charges related to the events of May 3 and 4.

During a week of demonstrations in support of the prisoners, two of which were headed up by Subcomandante Marcos and members of the Sixth Commission of the Other Campaign, several messages from prisoners were read, including the following letter from Ignacio Del Valle.

Letter from Ignacio del Valle from the La Palma extermination camp
May 4, 2007

To all my brothers, sisters, and comrades: From the bottom of our hearts I send you greetings and a warm hug, wishing you serenity of heart and harmony of action, always following the same star, the route that leads us to our long-cherished dream, a dream that we together will make real though we may travel a path of pain and rage.

I know that everyone who should be present is present: those of you who have taken into yourselves our pain, our rage, our impotence, our cry, those of you who have always been there in silence, withstanding, resisting, walking, constructing the paths that await our footsteps, setting out in unity towards horizons that our grandparents have forged with suffering and death, without selling out, without being broken, bearing up, brandishing in your fists a thousand futures like flags waving in new dawns of hope.

A year ago today the beast attacked us, wounding our most sacred sentiments in the vilest, most cowardly way, leaving a deep wound that makes us tremble with rage, one we will never forget, one that makes us redouble our efforts to stay on the march, never turning back. Though the road may be slow, torturous and fraught with dangers that threaten us unceasingly, we won’t stop. We are a stream, and at the call of the rains we’ll join forces with others in a mighty flow to drown the beast, with a roar that will break the bars imprisoning our most sublime dreams of justice and freedom.

To all of you we send our gratitude flowing from feelings that have survived the brutal attack that filled our souls and our flesh with wounds, fear and pain. In the face of the drama of repression and the rabid attack against our people, how could we forget your unflinching comradeship and the blood you shed when we dared to say “enough is enough”! From you no handouts or lies of goodwill and mercy! What should we make of “goodwill” when they exploit, humiliate, and murder us in the name of the law and take away the creative force with which our hands shape matter, bringing life to it? What should we make of “justice” when they denigrate our struggle by outrageously casting us in the role of criminals? And then, faced with our town’s demand for justice, they pose as victims! They use the most perverse measures to impose repressive conditions, instilling fear to teach people a lesson.

But in spite of all this, the beast has made another blunder. Who can imprison the fury of a volcano, the silence of centuries that explodes in rage and pain? Who has ever imprisoned all the wings of liberty that fly like shining lights, breaking through the fog that traps our dreams? Who has ever imprisoned the light that projects our yearnings, that flashes as a wake-up call and guides us on our march towards horizons of justice and freedom? Who can stop the march of your footsteps?

To all our brothers and sisters, I reiterate our recognition, our respect for you as human beings, and our gratitude for your revolutionary solidarity.

For collectives, for organizations large or small of all sectors, neighborhoods, students, farmers, indigenous brothers and sisters, whether from the cities, the country, or the mountains—the struggle continues.

Prison degrades but it doesn’t kill; the person who dies is the one who gets broken, the one who gives up.

From La Palma extermination camp, IGNACIO DEL VALLE, Peoples Front in Defense of the Land

See our last posts on Mexico and the Atenco struggle.

  1. Government: no amnesty
    Humberto Benitez, government secretary for the state of Mexico, rejected calls that del Valle and the other Atenco leaders be granted amnesty. “We live according to a system of laws and institutions,” Benitez told reporters in Toluca, the capital of Mexico state. “We don’t consider it excessive. We consider it a correct sentence… And, yes, I consider Ignacio Del Valle a delinquent, because a judge found him to be so.”

    Barbara Zamora, an attorney for del Valle, said her client was sentenced under new, strict anti-kidnapping laws designed to fight the wave of abductions for ransom that have swept through Mexico. She says the prosecution never presented evidence that del Valle sought a ransom for the detained official.

    An additional 174 defendants still face charges connected to the protests. (El Universal, May 8)

    Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto also dismissed any possibility of amnesty for the 29 Atenco residents who, after one year, remain imprisoned while awaiting trial. (APRO, May 7)

    Some 30 followers of the Zapatistas’ “Other Campaign” have launched an protest encampment (plantón) outside Molino de las Flores prison in Texcoco, where many of the detained Atenco campesinos are being held. (APRO, May 7)