On January 5, 2006 the prisoners’ organization La Voz del Amate (the Voice of Amate) attracted public attention through a long hunger strike that brought about the release of all of the organization’s members with the exception of Alberto Patishtán who was charged with federal crimes. Although he was transferred in April 2009 from the Amate prison to the State Center for the Social Reinsertion of Sentenced Prisoners (CERSS) No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Patishtán was still considered the only member of La Voz del Amate. Recently, Rosario Díaz Méndez, another prisoner, has become a member of the organization which is an adherent to the Other Campaign.
On January 6, 2010, during the celebration of the 4th anniversary of La Voz del Amate in the patio of the CERSS No. 5, the two members expressed their gratitude for all of the support they have received and emphasized their determination to continue to fight for justice. Approximately 30 people—from several civil and social organizations from Chiapas, Mexico and other countries—entered the prison on the occasion to show their solidarity.
Before all of those present including the other prisoners who were there, Julio Cesar, an ex-prisoner and member of La Voz del Amate who was released thanks to the organization’s efforts, explained that the objective is not solely the denunciation of injustice in a few cases in particular but the injustice of the system that imposes suffering on many and particularly indigenous peoples who often do not speak Spanish and do not have the economic resources to acquire legal help. Similarly, a member of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center reminded everyone present that the defense and promotion of human rights is not solely reserved for institutions like the human rights center. Everyone, by virtue of being human, has rights and the right to demand they be recognized. A member of the Ik Collective commented that among “those outside,” many people are not free but prisoners in “jails of fear, violence and alcohol,” and thanked La Voz del Amate for demonstrating that it is possible to build freedom even from the inside of a prison.
For More Information:
Communiqué from la Voz del Amate (Spanish, Chiapas Denuncia Pública blog, 05/01/10)
Text read by Alberto Patishtán at the anniversary celebration (Chiapas Denuncia Pública blog, 07/01/10)
For More Information from SIPAZ:
The Voice of Amate (La Voz del Amate) Speaks (SIPAZ Quarterly Report, August 2009)