On 19 April, on the birthday of professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, some 8,000 people participated in a pilgrimage for the release of this Tsotsil teacher in the capital city of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This was a pilgrimage organized by the Believing People, a Tsotsil team from the San Cristobal de Las Casas diocese, and the Movement of El Bosque for the Release of Alberto Patishtán. The march was accompanied by teachers from Section 7 of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE); the route was to end at the First Collegiate Tribunal of the Twentieth Circuit, where there may be held discussions regarding the liberty of Patishtán in the next few days. Beyond this, there was held a rally at the Council on Federal Judiciary in Mexico City, besides the protests held outside Mexican consulates and embassies throughout the world.
Different communication media made public the state government’s intention to cancel this pilgrimage, given that it coincided with the visit of Enrique Peña Nieto and the former president of Brasil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to relaunch the National Crusade against Hunger in Navenchauc, Zinacantán, which is not far from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. These pressures were communicated by the subsecretary of governance, Moisés Zenteno, from the mayor of El Bosque, Orlando Martínez, and two residents of the community who “only want money,” as professor Martín Ramírez said, being a member of the Movement of El Bosque for the Release of Alberto Patishtán; he added that he had replied by saying that he could not “arrest the mobilization, given that it is a national and international affair,” to which was replied that “the mayor threatened that Patishtán could be held longer in prison if the march in fact took place.” Subsequently, Martín Ramírez received a call from Moisés Nimrod, warning him that the pilgrimage had to be canceled “because the governor will release Patishtán.” Requesting that the official confirm this deal, Nimrod reneged and recognized that it was not in the hands of the government, but that “he will see what he can do.”
In other news, the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, visited Alberto Patishtán Gómez in prison no. 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas a day before the pilgrimage, and he committed himself to promoting the release of Patishtán and a new review of the cases of the other prisoners from the organizations the Voz del Amate and those in solidarity with the Voz del Amate. Accompanying the governor were the state attorney general, Raziel López Salazar, and teh state secretary for public security, Jorge Luis Llaven Abarca. Before Alberto Patishtán, Velasco Coello expressed his personal interest in the case, declaring that he believes in his innocence, and committing himself to discuss the case with president Enrique Peña during his visit the following day.
Víctor Hugo López, director of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC), indicated that the government “demands a cancellation of the pilgrimage programmed for this Friday, because it wants to demonstrate a scene cleansed of social protest; this would be the first mass-mobilization in the state capital during this new administration.” He also added that the CDHFBC was concerned for the security both of Patishtán and Martín Ramírez, “because the tone of the demand changed from request to threat and, as we have seen in other cases, repression can be used after negotiations fail to achieve what is desired.”
Lastly, the Believing People published a communique during the pilgrimage, expressing that “Today the federal and state governments […] have proposed strategies of a crusade against hunger. That is not true in their words; we believe and are convinced that it is in fact a CRUSADE AGAINST THE HUNGRY; we indigenous and campesino peoples ARE HUNGRY, but we have hunger for the truth and justice in the Acteal case, and HUNGER FOR THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF OUR BROTHER ALBERTO PATISHTAN.” It continues: “Mssrs. Justices of the First Collegiate Tribunal of the Twentieth Circuit, do not continue staining your dignity and prestige maintaining imprisoned our brother. Within the historical memory of the Mexican people the decision that you take regarding this innocent person will remain forever remembered.”
For more information (in Spanish):
Tzotziles y maestros marchan por la libertad de Patishtán (La Jornada, 20 de abril de 2013)
Peregrinan tzotziles por libertad de Patishtán (El Universal, 19 de abril de 2013)
Palabra de Pueblo creyente en la peregrinación por la Libertad de Patishtán (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 19 de abril de 2013)
Se compromete Manuel Velasco a gestionar la libertad de Patishtán (La Jornada, 18 de abril de 2013)
Presiones para detener las movilizaciones a favor de Patishtán por visita de Peña Nieto (Desinformémonos, abril 2013)
El Gobernador de Chiapas Manuel Velasco Coello reconoció inocencia de Patishtán (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 19 de abril de 2013)
Liberación Inmediata e incondicional a nuestro hermano Alberto Patishtán Gómez (Blog Las Abejas de Actea, 19 de abril de 2013)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Chiapas: Petition from the CDHFBC to release Alberto Patishtán (15 April 2013)
Chiapas: “Justice is its opposite,” declares Alberto Patishtán (20 March 2013)