Chiapas: OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo protests for the release of prisoners

May 29, 2010

Starting on 11 May, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ)-Casa del Pueblo (House of the People) engaged in a strong protest-movement in the city of Venustiano Carranza that has resulted in the closing of governmental offices (from the federal, state, and municipal levels) as well as of banks.  On the other hand, according to OCEZ-House of the People. some educational institutions have also been closed for a week, this with the support of teachers.  On 26 May, an OCEZ commission arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas to initiate a hunger-strike in front of the UN offices, which were being protected by riot police.  Officials from the Regional Sub-Secretary of Governance por the Highlands region, together with Oscar Torrens, a UN representative, told the campesinos that the following Monday the governor would receive them in the Palace of Government.  In any case, the protestors said they would maintain the sit-in until they received a written response to their demands.

The protestors demand the release of four prisoners imprisoned in Amate prison who have been held for more than 9 years for the murder of 8 members of the organization San Bartolomé de los Llanos.  The prisoners are Ángel Hidalgo Espinosa, sentenced to 37 years, and Mario Coutiño Morales, Enrique Coutiño Morales and Alberto Coutiño Morales, all of whom have been sentenced to 60 years.  The protests aim to condemn the lack of attention given to date by the state government and demand direct dialogue with the governor.  In a press release, they claimed that “we have for nine years been struggling legally, but to date responsibility has not been achieved; in any case, the authorities of the administration of justice refuse to release our comrades, even though they know that the juridical process they faced was plagued by irregularities and the fabrication and buying of crimes, among others things.”
For more information (in Spanish):

OCEZ requests the release of 4 indigenous prisoners (La Jornada, 27 May)

Campesinos protest against the UN (Cuarto Poder, 27 May)