Mexico: demand grows for release of Chiapas schoolteacher

Groups in Argentina, Brazil, France, England, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the US are planning events in the May 15-22 “Week of Global Struggle for the Liberation of Alberto Patisht谩n G贸mez and Francisco S谩ntiz L贸pez,” two indigenous prisoners from the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas. The week of actions was initiated by the New York-based Movement for Justice in El Barrio.

Patisht谩n G贸mez, in prison since 2000, is serving a 60-year sentence for his alleged involvement in the June 2000 killing of seven police agents in El Bosque municipality. Local authorities initially suspected drug traffickers, but prosecutors later shifted their attention to supporters of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Most of El Bosque had been part of a pro-EZLN autonomous municipality, San Juan de la Libertad, from 1995 until 1998, when it was dismantled in a violent military operation. Patisht谩n G贸mez, a local schoolteacher, was the only suspect convicted in the case, and the only witness against him was Rosemberg G贸mez, the son of Manuel G贸mez Ruiz, then El Bosque’s mayor. Years later Rosemberg G贸mez reportedly would tell people when he was drunk that he’d lied on instructions from his father, and that he got a new van as a reward.

S谩ntiz L贸pez, an EZLN supporter, was arrested in December 2011 on charges of leading a confrontation in Tenejapa municipality on Dec. 4 in which one person was killed. Twelve witnesses testify that he wasn’t present during the fight. (Radio Zapatista, April 18; Upside Down World, May 11; La Jornada, Mexico, May 12)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 13.

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Chiapas.