The second phase of the Atenco Freedom and Justice Campaign officially began on September 11th in Chiapas, where the People for the Defense of the Land (FPDT) chose to announce the beginning of their journey through 12 states. The purpose of the campaign is not only to educate people about Atenco, but also to get to know other struggles and the suffering of the people.
On September 11th the Abejas invited the FPDT to Acteal where they were welcomed with a banner that read “Welcome to the sacred land of Acteal, brothers and sisters of Atenco.” In response the FPDT walked down the stairs chanting, “Acteal, Atenco is here for you.” The FPDT went on to declare “the Supreme Court decision in the case of Acteal caused the same effect” as in many other cases, including Atenco, and “shows that institutions who are in charge of providing justice on all levels fill the role of guaranteeing protection and impunity to the ruling party and its repressive policies instead.”
The words exchanged spoke as much of the determination to keep up the fight as of the warmth between friends. There was dancing, speechmaking, and singing. Damian Camacho of FPDT said, “They want to get rid of this history because it’s not part of the official history… the history of the downtrodden people and their struggles.” The president of the Abejas, Sebastian, said it was a great honor for his organization to have the FPDT starting their campaign in Acteal. Damian replied that the honor was mutual, “You’ve opened paths and roads for us to follow and that’s what we’re doing… After awhile more roads had to be opened so that others could wake up and join us.” As expressed by Trinidad, the wife of Ignacio Del Valle, many agreed, “words are not enough to say thank you for your example of struggle, resistance and dignity. It strengthens us.” After reading a letter to the Abejas from Ignacio del Valle as well as press releases from both organizations, symbolic gifts were exchanged: a machete to symbolize protecting the land was given to the Abejas by the FPDT, and a white flag symbolizing peace was given to the FPDT by the Abejas.
Within the context of this campaign, the FPDT are demanding “the impartial review of the cases of the nine prisoners in Molino de las Flores, as well as their immediate release for being political prisoners in Mexico; the immediate transfer of Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Alvarez and Hector Galindo to a jail close to their homes; the cancellation of Adan Espinoza’s arrest warrant, the release of 12 political prisoners, the revocation of their sentences; the unrestricted respect for the human rights of those detained and persecuted; the punishment of those materially and intellectually responsible for the repression and violation of human rights; a stop to the political persecution of Adan Espinoza; a stop to the criminalization of social movements in Mexico.” (FPDT press release)
Later the same day the FPDT delegation took part in a forum in San Cristobal de Las Casas where they were able to exchange with local individuals. They met with family members of the Ocosingo prisoners, the daughter of Alberto Patishtan (who is being held in prison CERSS #5), representatives from Innocent Voices, and the public. They also spoke with followers of the Other Campaign from Mitziton, who are presently mounting a campaign of resistance to the government highway project from San Cristobal to Palenque. The FPDT delegation explained their demands and denounced the worsening of prison conditions, contrary to the respect of human rights. They also denounced the degrading treatment of family members who visit their loved ones in prison.
On September 12th the FPDT delegation met with the Good Government Junta in Oventic, where the Zapatistas greeted them with expressions of solidarity. They finished off their tour through Chiapas by taking part in a march to mark the third anniversary of the Northern Region Autonomous Council.
For more information (in Spanish):