Chiapas: Fear that Infected Prisoners in San Cristobal de Las Casas “Will only Come Out Dead”

May 26, 2020

presos@Diario del Sur

On May 25th, at a press conference held in the City of San Cristobal de Las Casas, the former political prisoner and founder of Solidarios de la Voz de Amate, Alberto Patishtan Gomez, denounced that the situation of the prisoner members of that group at the State Center for Social Reintegration for Sentences Number 5 (CERSS 5) remains delicate and they have not received medical attention. This occurs one week after they began to present symptoms of COVID-19 and contrary to the statements of the Ministry of Health that has affirmed that they have received attention.

Patishtan Gomez assured that the only thing that has been done is that these prisoners have been isolated inside the prison itself. He demanded their transfer “to a private or public hospital, but not to remain in the nursing area of ​​that penitential center, as although they have come to carry out studies on all, it is known that many are infected.” He requested prompt and timely medical attention to detect cases that require hospitalization or other specialized care.

He announced that they made an “international appeal in support of prisoners” that is being disseminated in several languages ​​to exert pressure for attention for their demands.

For more information in Spanish:

Temen a que presos “solo muertos salgan” por padecer Coronavirus: Alberto Patishtán(Diario del sur, 26 de mayo de 2020)

Exigen atención para infectados (Ultimatum, 26 de mayo de 2020)

Temen por la vida de presos contagiados de Coronavirus (NVI Noticias, 25 de mayo de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Outbreak of COVID-19 in San Cristobal Las Casas Prison (May 23, 2020)

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Hunger Strike over Health Fears Due to COVID-19 (May 21, 2020)

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Three-day Fast to Demand Freedom (March 23, 2020)


Chiapas: Outbreak of COVID-19 in San Cristobal Las Casas Prison

May 23, 2020

solidariosPhoto: chiapasparalelo

The Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 in San Cristobal de Las Casas prison. Those affected so far are eight indigenous Tzotzil prisoners, all members of the organization Solidarios la Voz de El Amate (The Solidarity Voice of Amate) but more people could be infected. They have been quarantined since midnight on May 20th. During the previous weeks they had asked for sanitary control measures several times to avoid this situation.

“Our family members no longer enter the prison. We were told that this is a measure to prevent coronavirus disease from spreading to us. But the risk of contagion comes from the jailers themselves”, a group of prisoners reported by telephone. This is because, they affirmed, the jailers, or personnel on duty, do not use any protective measures when entering the area of ​​cells and patios where the inmates are located, nor gloves nor face masks. After this complaint, the Ministry of Public Security and Citizen Protection, which is in charge of prisons, said that the complaint of the inmates was false, and argued that there was a protocol to avoid contagion.

Meanwhile, relatives of the police officer Artemio Jimenez Estrada, who worked in San Cristobal de Las Casas prison, reported that he allegedly died of COVID-19: “His last wish was to report the lack of medical attention he received from the command at CERESO number 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, they never gave him permission to receive medical attention until the last day when he was already serious and could not fight the disease”, his family said on their Facebook accounts.

no estamos todos

On another note, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) demanded the implementation of measures to guarantee the life, health, integrity and freedom of prisoners on hunger strike in Chiapas. Since May 21st, members of the organization La Voz de Indigenas en Resistencia (The Voice of Indigenous in Resistance) and La Voz Verdadera del Amate (The True Voice of Amate) started a hunger strike from CERSS No. 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas and CERSS No. 10 in Comitan de Dominguez.

Therefore, the relatives of prisoners on hunger strike for their freedom filed an injunction on May 20th, 2020, before a Judge in Tuxtla Gutierrez. They claim that the state authorities fails the security and protection of the health of those who are in prison, suffering uncertainty regarding the increased risk of contagion.

The Colectivo Cereza Chiapas (Chiapas Cherry Collective), which accompanies the women prisoners in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, denounced that the women were gassed for protesting. For four days they had no phone to communicate with their defense or their relatives. They have been without a doctor since the beginning of March and lack basic hygiene and cleaning products. They are also afraid of the risks of contagion from COVID-19.

For more information in Spanish:

Brote de COVID-19 en penal de Chiapas, presos indígenas contagiados, Chiapasparalelo, 20 de mayo de 2020

Brote de Covid-19 en penal de San Cristóbal, Chiapas: 8 infectados, La Jornada, 20 de mayo de 2020

Denuncian brote de covid-19 en penal de San Cristóbal, Proceso, 21 de mayo de 2020

Firma por: Garantías de vida, salud, integridad y libertad a presos en huelga de hambre en Chiapas, Frayba, 21 de mayo de 2020

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Hunger Strike over Health Fears Due to COVID-19 (May 21, 2020)

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Three-day Fast to Demand Freedom (March 23, 2020)

Chiapas: Exigen libertad para las 9 presos solidarios de la Voz del Amate, (6 /11/2019)

Chiapas:Presos del Cerss 5 son amenazados de ser reubicados si no detienen su protesta (6 de septiembre de 2019)

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Hunger Strike over Health Fears Due to COVID-19

May 21, 2020


Several prisoners’ organizations in Chiapas have denounced the health situation within the San Cristobal de Las Casas prison. Some inmates have fever and cough and other symptoms that could be associated with COVID 19. On May 20th, the eight members of Solidarios de la Voz de Amate (Solidarity with the Voice of Amate) were taken to the infirmary and were informed that they should remain there for 14 days. Supporters of their cause demanded that the governor of Chiapas, Rutilio Escandon Gordillo, report on the prisoners’ health situation.

At the same time, members of the organization La Voz de Indigenas en Resistencia (The Voice of Indigenous in Resistance) and the organization La Voz Verdadera del Amate (The True Voice of Amate) announced that on May 21st they would start a hunger strike that would continue until June 5th to demand attention to their health and for their their release.

“The authorities of this center have denied the contagion of an officer, rank Commander and named: Alejandro and the alleged death of an officer named: Artemio”, they denounced.

“We also emphasize that the internal population is suffering from fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, which we do not know if it is the COVID 19 Virus or normal fever. Inmates are violating our rights to health. There is no way to take the COVID 19 test and there are also no medications for the inmates. Supposedly there is a high amount of fever symptoms in inmates. For this reason, we prisoners are in danger for the integrity of our health and life”, they also claimed.

For more information in Spanish:

Presos indígenas en Chiapas reportan síntomas de covid-19 y nula atención, Pie de Pagina, 19 de mayo de 2020

Piden intervención de autoridades por posibles casos de Covid en cárceles, Cuarto Poder, 19 de mayo de 2020

Piden reos de penal en Chiapas reforzar medidas sanitarias por Covid-19, La Jornada 18 de mayo de 2020

For more information form  SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Prisoners Start Three-day Fast to Demand Freedom (March 23, 2020)

Chiapas: Exigen libertad para las 9 presos solidarios de la Voz del Amate, (6 /11/2019)

Chiapas:Presos del Cerss 5 son amenazados de ser reubicados si no detienen su protesta (6 de septiembre de 2019)


Oaxaca: “The Isthmus is Ours” Campaign Rejects Integration of “Tehuantepec Isthmus Interoceanic Corridor Regional Committee for Social Attention”

May 19, 2020


In a statement published on May 15th, the organizations that are part of the “The Isthmus is Ours” campaign rejected the integration of the ” Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Corridor Regional Committee for Social Attention” initiated at the beginning of the month, an act that they called “a stab in the back to their own peoples.”

“A supposed regional committee [was formed] to guarantee the installation of the set of mega-death projects called the Program for the Integral Development of the Isthmus-Interoceanic Corridor. Municipal presidents, the Oaxaca state government and the federal government are offering our lands and invaluable natural assets to large companies. and transnational corporations, without informing and, much less, consulting their councils, communities, neighborhoods, colonies and inhabitants of the Tehuantepec Isthmus region”,they denounced.

They considered the fact “a mockery and a flagrant violation of the collective human rights of Indigenous Peoples”. They affirmed that it is “highly negative for our peoples that, abusing the context of a health emergency, the imposition of this neoliberal project continues, which, if implemented, would mean billions of dollars for private and multinational benefits, at the expense of nature, the culture and ways of life of the peoples. This, when there are not even basic supplies for patient care and for the protection of workers in hospitals and health centers in the area. In addition, the installation of this Committee continues to ignore the observations and complaints of various communities and organizations in the region and the country, regarding the Environmental Impact Statement for the modernization of the current railroad, instead extending said EIR, for the section La Mata – Salina Cruz.”

They confirmed their position: “All these megaprojects have only generated belts of misery; have forced populations to migrate out of the region, polluting and degrading the environment as well as local ecosystems, seriously affected the health of the local population, induced social pathology (alcoholism, drug addiction, intra-family violence, femi-homicides) destroying the tissue social-community. On the other hand, they have only created precarious, temporary jobs, without job benefits, through companies that subcontract our countrymen to avoid responsibilities. In addition, it is noteworthy that, with regard to the increasingly intense wave of poor migrant families, with this “Integral Development Program”, the 4T government plans to build a “green” wall without partitions, to contain the migrant advance towards the United States and make the region a militarized barrier to hyper-precarious employment, with over-exploited migrant labor.”

It should be noted that in the event in which the Committee was formed, Rafael Marin Mollinedo, general director of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT), asked the councilors present to see to the demands of the citizens, having learned of “some situations adverse to the project”: “If people show disagreement this work will not be done; Everyone’s participation is important and you have to be and have leaders who help minimize complaints; unfortunately old demands are coming to light, they are taking advantage of the moment to be seen to, so I ask for your support.”

For more information in Spanish:

Organizaciones indígenas y comunitarias, rechazamos la integración del llamado Comité Regional para la Atención Social del Corredor Interoceánico del Istmo de Tehuantepec (OSC, 15 de mayo de 2020)

Instalan Comité Regional de Atención Social del Corredor Interoceánico (La Jornada, 2 de mayo de 2020)

Instalan Comité Regional para la Atención Social del Corredor interoceánico del Istmo de Tehuantepec (Istmopress, 1ero de mayo de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Organizations, Communities and Movements Demand Suspension of Trans-Isthmus Project (May 2, 2020)

Oaxaca: Illegal Start on Trans-Isthmus Corridor without EIR Denounced (April 28, 2020)

Oaxaca: Assembly of Isthmus Peoples in Resistance to Megaprojects Formed (March 19, 2020) (March, 2020)


National: CNDH Issues Precautionary Measures for Indigenous Peoples of Yucatan and Requests Halt to Maya Train Works

May 18, 2020

Tren_covid© Excelsior

On May 14th, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) called on the federal government to stop work on the Maya Train because of the risk that the indigenous communities, workers in the areas involved in this megaproject run. In previous days, the project was declared “essential” to continue during the contingency. However, the area that this train will travel is marked by a large number of infections and deaths from COVID-19. According to data from the Secretary of Health, the states of Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo are among the five with at least one case in all of their municipalities and a total of 5,020 infections and 622 deaths.

In addition, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed his desire to start a tour of the different states through which the train would pass and so mark the initiation of work, although he clarified that it would be after June 1st. In this sense, the CNDH reiterated the need for the National Tourism Development Fund (FONATUR) to suspend work “urgently”and issued precautionary measures for the indigenous peoples of the Yucatan peninsula. The organization argued that this request is made based on the current state of the pandemic which, being in Phase 3, “is of the utmost gravity, urgency and possible damage to the Health, Personal Integrity and Life of the inhabitants of the region.”

In addition, the complaint filed by indigenous peoples and civil organizations defending human rights in Yucatan who allege the alleged violation of articles four and 29 of the Constitution was considered; article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and four and five of the American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica), which establish the human right to Health, Personal Integrity and Life.

For more informatio in Spanish:

CNDH pide frenar Tren Maya por riesgos en pueblos indígenas ante epidemia (Animal político, 14 de mayo 2020)

Llama la CNDH a parar obras del Tren Maya “no esenciales” (La Jornada, 15 de mayo 2020)

Covid-19 pega con tubo a ruta del Tren Maya; sureste, en alerta (Excelsior, 15 de mayo 2020)

CNDH: Comunicado de Prensa (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, 14 de mayo 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Numerous Collectives Call National and International Communities to Back Urgent Action against Maya Train (May 14, 2020)

Chiapas: Federal Court Orders Suspension of Palenque Section of Maya Train; FONATUR Considers Injunction “Unfair” (May 13, 2020)

National: Online Forum “No to the Misnamed Maya Train”(May 5, 2020)

Chiapas: “Not Only COVID Threatens Life” – Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society (April 25, 2020)


National: CSOs Request Dialogue Spaces “Given the Disturbing Vulnerability of [Indigenous] Peoples and Communities” in Coronavirus Pandemic

May 18, 2020


In a statement published on May 14th, a dozen Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including La Montaña Tlachinollan Human Rights Center (Guerrero), EDUCA (Oaxaca) and the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Chiapas), expressed their “deep concern about the conditions that the pandemic may generate in the communities during the following weeks and months, and we ask that a space for dialogue be opened to build proposals that address their conditions and needs.”

They recalled that these groups “have been historically forgotten by public health institutions, causing the systematic violation of their right to health,” a vulnerability that has been reinforced by the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19)

“In addition to the lack of infrastructure, medical personnel and continuous supply of medicines, institutional discrimination and the lack of a culturally adequate and affordable preventive approach to the communities are added; as well as, in this context, the lack of adequate monitoring and follow-up of migrants who return to their communities, taking care of their dignity”, they denounced.

They also worried about “the economic vulnerability of most of the people in the communities. Lack of access to decent sources of employment in communities makes them dependent on trade and informal employment, as well as remittances from migrants in the United States. In the current context of global economic crisis, both local sources of income and remittances are at risk of declining sharply, without a program to guarantee a basic income.” They are alarmed that the food security of several of these communities is at risk.

On the other hand, CSOs expressed their concern at the fact that “communities face a reduced capacity to defend their territories and the environment, since their spaces for community decision-making are restricted and access to institutions for the provision of justice is limited”, which is why they support “the demand for a moratorium on all large-scale infrastructure projects that are affecting or may affect indigenous territories without their consent, with potential adverse impacts on human rights.”

Finally, they warned about the context of increased violence against women aggravated by the context of a health emergency.

Against this background, the authorities urged “to adopt better actions aimed at this population in matters of health, economy, food, water, sanitation, attention to conflict and security, without prejudice to their self-determination and autonomy.” They also called them “To open a space for dialogue and collaboration with civil society that allows us to face this crisis from multiple places; recognizing the efforts that communities are already making to face the crisis due to the pandemic from their own ways of life and organization.”

For more information in Spanish:

Ante la preocupante vulnerabilidad de pueblos y comunidades frente al COVID-19, organizaciones de la sociedad civil piden espacio de diálogo (OSC, 14 de mayo de 2020)

Comunidades indígenas, en especial vulnerabilidad por Coronavirus advierte ONG (Milenio, 14 de mayo de 2020)

Preocupa a ONG’s vulnerabilidad de pueblos y comunidades frente al Covid 19(El Sie7e de Chiapas, 15 de mayo de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Cuts for Indigenous Women in Violent Situations(May 15, 2020)

Oaxaca: People of Oaxaca Granted Injunction against Sanctions for Use of Face Masks (May 11, 2020)

National: CNDH Calls for Protection of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Populations against COVID-19 (April 14, 2020)

National: Organizations Denounce Health Neglect in Open Letter to AMLO (April 16, 2020)

National: Cuts for Indigenous Women in Violent Situations

May 15, 2020

casa muer

There are 35 Houses of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Women (CAMIs) in Mexico. These houses are refuges for women living in violent situations. Their service focuses on sexual and reproductive rights and the prevention of and care for gender violence. They receive their resources through the Indigenous Rights Program part of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI).

Despite the fact that the services for violence against women were declared “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who care for indigenous women were left penniless by the government in full contingency, the media have denounced.

The importance of CAMIs is that they serve populations that many authorities do not reach. There, indigenous women and girls who experience gender violence can find support, guidance and advice in their language. They confirm that they have seen an increase in victims of violence during the confinement of the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic.

Since April, the INPI reported the suspension of publication of results and, therefore, payment of money for all grants from the Indigenous Rights Program was suspended. The argument was that there are no conditions for the projects and to protect the beneficiaries, despite the fact that the CAMI are already underway and some have temporary houses that serve as a refuge for women who are victims of family violence.

In January of this year, a call for support was made and although it was promised that information would be given no later than April 30th, as yet no response has been received and it is feared that the resources with which indigenous women throughout the country are helped will be cancelled.

Animal Politico media asked the INPI about this situation, but were told that it is no longer in their hands: it was the Ministry of Finance that had decided to reserve the money that was destined to this program to use for the COVID-19 emergency.

For more information in Spanish:

Hacienda retiene los recursos para atención a violencia contra mujeres indígenas, Animal Politico, 4 de mayo de 2020

Mujeres indígenas víctimas de violencia en desamparo, Reporte Indigo, 4 de mayo de 2020

Casas de la Mujer Indígena: recortes a proyectos que salvan vidas, La Jorndada, 8 de mayo de 2020

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Exigen justicia y disculpa para mujeres víctimas de violencia cibernética del pueblo ayuuk, (March 25, 2020)

National Strike – A Day without Women (March 13, 2020)

National: Historic Women’s Day In Mexico (March 11, 2020)