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Degrading, inhuman conditions at the Altiplano EXTERMINATION camp

Monday 12 February 2007, by Comité Cerezo México

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español]

Some of the irregularities are as follows:

200 pesos were deposited in Antonio Cerezo’s account but were not received by the penitentiary; thus, they were returned to the post office that they were sent from.

Fortunately, on this visit to Antonio, he wasn’t under what is called “vigilance,” which means that there was no guard watching him full time, which has been the case for around 2 months. He’s been on a special watch, in which every 15 minutes the guard asks him if he’s still Antonio Cerezo or if he’s the guy who wants to commit suicide, as a form of permanent harassment.

The most basic cleaning supplies and personal hygiene articles are not provided to the prisoners. Therefore, if the money deposited for them doesn’t get to them they can’t buy their most basic necessities at the store, not even toilet paper. This is now Antonio’s situation.


“As you see, they have us in Observation, although some call it Follow-up. They were reporting on us by telephone every 15 minutes and now I understand it’s every 30 minutes. They put me on Security status the 22, 23, and 24 of December and didn’t take me down to participate in any activity. They also took away my razor. Then they said they had made a mistake and took me out of my cell every day until January 1, when they refused to let me out again. The same thing happened on January 7. Since then, they’ve taken me downstairs as usual, but they only give me a razor when I go for a shower. (THIS SITUATION ONLY OCCURS WHEN THE PRISONER IS CONSIDERED A SUICIDE RISK.) With regards to other matters, the humiliations have increased as of January 1. Now every time we go downstairs or leave the cell we have to take off our pants, give our jock strap to the guards, raise our testicles, pull back our foreskin, do three squats, and take off our shoes and socks. But if we leave our module, we have to do the same thing when we return. We also have to go through the ordeal with the testicles and foreskin when we go down to eat, so our food tastes a little like our balls. And when we go to court, we’re completely stripped in addition to everything previously mentioned. Of course, when the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) representatives come, like they did yesterday, they only ask us to take off our shoes and socks. The CNDH acts like they don’t know what goes on and says that there are no human rights violations here. The treatment is still the same and, needless to say, this denunciation will cost me the usual punishment imposed by the prison. I’ll denounce that later.

The International Red Cross Committee came, and to tell the truth, I forgot to tell them some things, like sometimes a month can go by before they give us nail clippers, things that everyone uses....Our postal money orders are frozen and we don’t have any money...so sometimes we don’t even have toilet paper and you can imagine what that’s like. The deal is that they don’t give you anything; you have to buy every little thing.

This is the way they treat everyone who complains to the CNDH or those who’ve gotten protective orders and have won something [in court] or, as I said before, those of us who complain or publicize the situation. They’re in an oasis of total impunity. And now they’ve come up with something new: they’ve forbidden us to exercise in our cells. We still don’t know if this is a new rule or just a caprice of the guard on duty.

In January they changed the schedule and I went out to the yard from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. It had been quite a while since I’d had the chance to see the sun. This month, we’re back on the old schedule, going out from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Only half an hour. It seems that they’re going to change the schedule every month. Today they took me down with some other prisoners for an antidoping test; they took blood and urine samples.

The food is still “express,” only what you can eat in 6 or 7 minutes.

One hour a week they give us drawing classes. They lend us a sheet of paper and a pencil, and at the end of class we have to turn it in to the teacher. They keep the drawings.”

Hector Cerezo Contreras. Prisoner of conscience. Altiplano extermination camp, Almoloya de Juárez, state of México.


Upon visiting Antonio Cerezo Contreras, the procedure for arriving at the entrance gate is as follows:

You get to search station by way of a hall with yellow arrows on the floor indicating the route that visitors should take. At the end of the hall, a guard dressed in blue signals you to leave your things on one side of a metal detector, an arch that the family member must pass through. Once this is done, the visitor is searched with a detector stick, raising the arms and opening the legs slightly to be searched back and front. After that, the guard on duty signals you to open your pack to let them search it. It should be noted that it’s prohibited to enter with cell phones, compact discs, compact lens cases, newspapers, books, magazines, and food. You can only take in water and some personal hygiene articles. There’s no place to leave the prohibited articles, so if you take any of the things mentioned above you have to leave them in one of the houses near the prison where they charge you a slight fee. Once you’re at the main entrance gate, the inmate’s number is given and a guard dressed in black checks it with a list and fills out an entrance form, then takes it to the office and brings it back, telling you if the visit is authorized or not. You write down your personal information in a book, including the name of the prisoner you’re visiting, and then continue with the second piece of paperwork. Once you’re in the waiting room, you go through the social workers office, where a social workers writes out a visitor’s pass, which is given to the family member, thereby authorizing the visit to the prisoner. If you’re lucky enough to arrive when the office personnel have not gone to eat, you’ll be given a paper that you’ll need to pick up or deposit “family” mail. Later a permit is filled out and a search is done before you can see the prisoner in the family visiting area.

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