On September 30, 2009, José Manuel Hernández Martinez, also known as “Don Chema”, was taken captive under arbitrary circumstances in the 28 de Junio community of Venustiano Carranza. Hernández Martinez is one of the main leaders of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ) in the Venustiano Carranza region. At the moment, he is held in the State Centre for Social Reintegration of the Convicted(CERSS) No. 14, “El Amate”, in Cintalapa.
According to various sources, a group of people wearing Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) uniforms entered the 28 de Junio community, on September 30, asking residents if they were having problems with their electricity. When they located José Manuel Hernández Martinez, the men in disguise kidnapped him in their van, which appeared to be a CFE vehicle, and fled the community. Supporters of Hernández Martinez went in pursuit of the van in an attempt to rescue him, however, they were attacked by firearms and their vehicle crashed. Jordán López Aguilar was killed in the crash and José Santos López Aguilar, Juan Jiménez Zepeda and Ballardo Hernández de la Cruz were injured.
Late that night, it was confirmed that Hernández Martinez was held in the CERSS No. 14, “El Amate” and that the operation had been conducted by agents from the Federal General Attorney’s Office(PGR, Procuraduría General de la República)and from the Attorney General’s Office of the state of Chiapas (PGJE, Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Chiapas). According to local accusations made after he was taken into custody, Hernández Martínez was not presented with any warrant for his arrest. However, according to the federal government, there were previous inquiries and warrants against José Manuel Hernández Martínez for such crimes as criminal conspiracy or aggravated damages.
The National Front to Fight for Socialism (FNLS, Frente Nacional de Lucha por el Socialismo) denounced the detention as arbitrary, arguing that only a few weeks ago, José Manuel Hernández Martínez and the OCEZ were holding ongoing negotiations with the state government, at which time his kidnapping could have easily been accomplished. They declared in their press release that this captureg was an act of repression and criminalization of social protest. According to the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba), Hernández Martínez was interrogated in the office of the PGJE “about: whether he was a member of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR, Ejército Popular Revolucionario) and theZapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional)”
It must be acknowledged that the capture of José Manuel Hernández Martínez occurred during a period of increased hostility regarding the efforts of human rights defenders and of criminalization of social protest. In the last three months, there has been a smear campaign against Frayba, which included an armed attack against one of their members and the adherants of The Other Campaign of San Sebastián Bachajón and Jotolá, as well as acts of harassment against members of the FNLS. A few days prior to the capture of José Manuel Hernández Martínez, a stranger set fire to the K’inal Antsetik A.C. facilities, a feminist organization that is affiliated with Yolanda Castro, local leader of the FNLS.
For more information (in Spanish):
- Pronunciamiento del FNLS por la detención de José Manuel Hernández Martínez (01/10/09)
- Boletín No. 32 del Frayba: “En Chiapas se criminaliza y se hostiga a los movimientos sociales y a la defensa de derechos humanos” (02/10/09)
- La Jornada: “Capturan PGR y Procuraduría de Chiapas a líder de la OCEZ” (01/10/09)
More information from SIPAZ:
– Chiapas: Frayba Denounces Criminalization of Human Rights Work (September 2009)