Mexico: AI Declares Activists against High Electricity Tariffs Prisoners of Conscience

Last March 4, Amesty International (AI) declared Sara López González, Guadalupe Borjas and Joaquín Aguilar prisoners of conscience. The three are members of the Movement against High Electricity Tariffs (Movimiento de Resistencia Civil a las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica) in Candelaria, Campeche who have been detained since July 10, 2009 in the San Francisco Kobén prison in Campeche due to their struggle for a just electricity tariff. The National Movement against High Electricity Tariffs (Red Nacional de la Resistencia Civil a las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica) announced various activities in solidarity throughout the country after having celebrated its Second Gathering at the national level held on February 27 and 28 in Mexico City.

In their declaration concerning the three detainees in Campeche, AI stressed that “The three were detained in July 2009 in relation to their involvement in the group. Mexico’s Federal Attorney General (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is accusing the three leaders of allegedly holding hostage an employee of Mexico’s Federal Electricity Company (CFE, Comisión Federal de Electricidad). The charges were based on an original complaint by the legal representative of the electricity company for obstructing delivery of a public service, a minor charge. The complaint came after the protest leaders met with the electricity company to ask for the electricity supply to be reconnected. However, the PGR then fabricated the additional charge of hostage taking, a serious offence not eligible for bail. […] ‘The criminal charges against Sara, Joaquín and Guadalupe are completely baseless and seem to have been brought only to stop their campaign against high electricity tariffs,’ said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International.”

For their part, the National Movement against High Electricity Tariffs announced a national campaign to demand the release of the prisoners of conscience from Candelaria. In addition, the organization declared that they will participate in acts of solidarity with the movement against hydroelectric dams on the International Day against Dams and for Rivers, to be held on March 14. They will also be participating in the “National Political Strike” (“Huelga Política Nacional”), convened by the Mexican Electricians Union (SME, Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas) to take place on March 16. The organization also denounced a “coalition” between the CFE and the PGR in order to “fabricate crimes and invent false accusations” against those who struggle for a just tariff, as well as “the arrest warrants that they have taken out against member of our national network in Ixtepec and Santa María Xhadani, Oaxaca; Minatitlán and Tatahuicapan, Veracruz; Candelaria, Campeche, as well as member os the Mexican Alliance for Self Determination of the People (Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos).”

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