Mexico: court frees Atenco prisoners

On June 30 a five-member panel of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) announced that it had decided by a four-to-one vote to release campesino activist Ignacio del Valle Medina and 11 other members of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT) who had been imprisoned since a confrontation in May 2006 between MĂ©xico state police and residents of San Salvador Atenco municipality northeast of Mexico City. The justices ruled that the state’s charges against the activists—for kidnapping state officials—were based on “false and feeble premises” and used “impermissible evidence.”

Accompanied by 1997 Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams, FPDT director Trinidad RamĂ­rez, who is Ignacio del Valle’s wife, addressed supporters on the courthouse steps in Mexico City after the announcement. “Organize,” she said. “The message is that the government and the state aren’t invincible. Can you beat the government? Sure you can! Is it possible to do it? Sure it is!” (La Jornada, Mexico, July 1)

On July 3 RamĂ­rez and Del Valle initiated a legal action to dismiss charges against their daughter, AmĂ©rica del Valle. Since she hadn’t been tried, the SCJN ruling doesn’t automatically affect her case. AmĂ©rica del Valle had applied for political asylum at the Venezuelan embassy on June 23, a week before the SCJN ruling. (LJ, July 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 4.

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