On February 19, more than 10,000 Indigenous peoples from Chiapas, representing members from all 50 parishes within the San Cristóbal de las Casas diocese, participated in a pilgrimage from their respective communities to the Plaza de la Catedral in San Cristóbal.
Several of those in attendance had travelled several days or walked up to eight hours to take part in the gathering which was presided over by the Bishop of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi. The faithful arrived from three different points in the city, representing several indigenous peoples including tsotsiles, tzeltales, ch’oles, tojolobales y mames.
The principal purpose of the march was to support the tsotsil catechists incarcerated since 2003 in the Tres Cruces case, in the municipality of Chenalhó – they have been considered “political prisoners by both social and human rights organizations.
However, there were other issues of concern for the indigenous community of Chiapas raised at the gathering as noted in both the homily and in the slogans inscribed on banners displayed by those in the march including, “Land, water and forests are not a business; Mother Earth is our inheritance from God the father,” “Stop torture,” “We want the immediate release of the four imprisoned brothers,” “I completely renounce NAFTA which will be the end of the Mexican campo,” “I reject the privatization of PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexican Petroleum)” and “The land is not for sale: no more forcible displacements.”
Before the pilgrimage, the catechist detainee Sacario Hernández began a hunger strike in protest of his imprisonment.Later, he was joined by 13 other detainees held in the El Amate facility as well as various detainees held in CERESO 5 in San Cristóbal, all of whom are members the organization “The Voice of the Plains” (“La Voz de Los Llanos”). The hunger strike continues as of this date.
For more information:
“Protest pilgrimage” (Cuarto Poder, 20/02/08) [in Spanish]
Communique (Voz de los Llanos, 18/02/08) (080217-voz-de-los-llanos-peregrinacion-pueblo-creyente.doc) [in Spanish]