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.
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 Three-day Fast to Demand Freedom (March 23, 2020)
Chiapas:Presos del Cerss 5 son amenazados de ser reubicados si no detienen su protesta (6 de septiembre de 2019)