To whom it may concern:
Since I am well aware of the PAN government’s veiled censorship and of the self-censorship practiced by some reporters, correspondents, opinion shapers, and directors of daily newspapers for fear of the loss of a job or other reprisals by certain news media owners, I’m putting a generalized salutation on my correspondence in order to spare you unnecessary trouble produced by this situation.
I won’t, however, stop sending you the letters that we write to our children in hopes that you will pay attention to them and see them as one more proof of the critical situation that the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience experience in maximum security prisons, as one more proof of the countless forms that the “authorities” find for violating their human rights.
Keeping our children in prison is not enough; they find it necessary to hold them hostage in despicable conditions as a warning to other social activists in the country, as an effort to halt the popular movement striving to reach the unity that is necessary to put an end to injustice and inequality.
We sincerely appreciate your attention to this matter.
Emilia Contreras Rodríguez and Francisco Cerezo Quiroz.
April 20, 2007
My dear children, Antonio and Héctor, still hostages of the State and now of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa after 5 years and 8 months of unjust imprisonment, and Emi, Paco, and Ale, still struggling for the freedom of your brothers.
I was finally able to read the letters you’ve written—Hector, your courageous denunciation and, Toño, your letters. As ever, I’ve had to keep my chin up and recall that the social struggle for justice leads all of us who are in it, in the best of cases, to face the dangers of prison and all that that implies, and, in the worst of cases, to face forced disappearance or death, as your dad has always said.
This year I made a cake to celebrate all the birthdays that we haven’t spent together. I did it precisely because you turned 30. It’s been 30 years since I held you in my arms and nursed you with all the love I could give you, and I remember how plump you were with skin the color of sea sand, as a dear comrade would say, your shit, your first words, the way you pissed in my face when I changed your diaper, and, a little later on, the way you cried at 6 o’clock in the morning like a little alarm clock when I didn’t give you your bottle fast enough, then your first steps and when you were a little older the way you held the bottle for Hértor, which is what you called him, and from the time you were little the way you always wanted to help the younger ones pronounce words. Do you remember? And when you started school at the age of five and discovered that a neighbor didn’t know how to read, you, scholar that you were, told him that you knew how and that you’d be his teacher and show him how to do it. My Toño, how could I forget the way we read together or the things I read and then turned into stories to teach you that everything, or almost everything, was possible once you set out to do it! How could I forget?
And then came Hértor (as you called him), with his sharp little face, so quiet, he hardly ever cried, always patient, always observing, a tiny baby, light-skinned—you always did your best to carry him because you were “a big boy”.
Héctor, my little one, you’re 28 years old now and have spent more than 5 of them in prison, so observant from the very first. You “baptized me, too, not once but several times. Then later on you were so serious and stubborn about everything you did. I remember when Ale was born and I came home with another little one and found you sick. I had to go back to the hospital, this time with you. They gave you serum and the necessary treatment, but when the nurse tried to put a diaper on you, you wouldn’t let her. At the age of two you got mad and told her, “I don’t use a diaper because I’m not a baby.” You got even more upset when they gave you your milk in a bottle because you no longer took a bottle because you were big. While you were in the hospital, you didn’t, but when you got home I asked you what you wanted to drink and you said, “milk.” I gave it to you and you drank it like a shipwrecked sailor drinks water. It was really hard for us to help you learn to lose when we played, and you were so bold. Do you remember when you were only three years old and went home alone from nursery school because I didn’t pick you up on time? Then when you were a little older, how you ran in the pentathlon like the big children, holding on to Emi’s belt to make the climb? And when you paraded in the pentathlon when you were four and they carried you on their shoulders so you could make it to the end and then when you reached the judges you took your place like a sergeant and started giving orders to your platoon—the ones who had carried you? And later on when you represented the UNAM in the national wrestling championship and you wouldn’t give up because now “you were a university student” and couldn’t lose?
My dear children, all those childhood memories, all those memories of when we were together! Could I ever forget them?
No, never. I’d have to go crazy from grief or die, and even then the memories would remain in all of us and everyone who knew us, for better or worse. But I think it’s for better because time, as you say so beautifully Toño, helps us reflect and mature, putting things in their place, taking the responsibility that corresponds to each of us, and overcoming real or supposed wrongs. Time cures all things unless you don’t want it to or unless you’re not in good mental health.
And my dear ones, what of Emi, Paco, and Ale? I could go on and on but that’s enough for now because there are things more important than personal memories. There’ll be time for all that and more. Let’s keep talking about memories, but collective ones, which is what the State will go to all lengths to erase, such as the death of Pável González one April 19 like yesterday. I must say that I expected to find some mention of him by someone and I haven’t seen a single reference to him, which makes me sad because his death came out of a struggle for justice. This should not happen. And so I call on all committed social activists to never stop speaking of him, and I send a strong embrace, very strong, to Mario and Lourdes, Pavel’s parents, and my total, unconditional solidarity in the face of such a meaningful and irreparable loss to them and to the entire society. For the State, it’s more convenient that young people die of an overdose or in a score settled by organized crime than from their involvement in the social struggles of the Mexican people.
I also send a heartfelt embrace to Angel and Graciela, the parents of Alexis Benhumea, another exemplary young person who also lost his life at the hands of the State’s repressive forces during the repression of the valiant, indomitable people of San Salvador Atenco. On this first anniversary of his death, you have my unconditional solidarity and that of my family.
And to the family members of Doña Ernestina Ascencio Rosario, I send my sincere condolences because independently of the controversy between the authorities in Veracruz and the head of the National Human Rights Commission, we know all too well the background of the military men who are once again turning to the rape of men and women as they step up their strategy of Low Intensity Warfare in order to strike fear in the heart of the people and to humiliate and abuse people to the point of paralysis. This, they will never be able to achieve because they’ll never be able to understand that for parents, for their children, for the family and the people, the will to attain justice is invincible.
But I’m not finished yet. I want to point out that those who are responsible for these atrocities will always be the ones who were in the Mexican government at the time, serving the system and the State, that Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, Francisco Ramírez Acuña, General Guillermo Galván Galván, Genaro García Luna, and José Luis Lagunes López, who serves as the Director of the Federal Prison System are illegitimate usurpers who are directly responsible for holding my sons hostage in the maximum security Altiplano prison and for all the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience these officials have generated through their servility and authoritarianism as they continue to criminalize the social struggle in our Mexico.
In this letter I make a fervent plea for all the social and political forces on the left to put aside old quarrels and contradictions of all kinds in order to come to a general agreement for the commemoration of Mayday and the general strike. If the right, despite all its contradictions, joins together at a given moment against the interests of the majority, the left, or lefts as some would say, have not only the moral obligation but also the responsibility of uniting in defense of these interests and writing the history of the steps to take in order to transform this society into a better one where justice, dignity, and solidarity are not only principles or a dead letter, but a reality.
I also send my greetings to Doña Trini, the wife of Ignacio del Valle and to their daughter América, as well as to Mariana Selvas, the first young woman a political fugitive and the second a prisoner of this regime, to all the prisoners of Atenco and Oaxaca, and to everyone who is waging a battle for the freedom of all the political prisoners in the country. My greetings go to the Second University Forum for the Freedom of All Political Prisoners, taking place today, and to the Comité Cerezo, (naturally).
In closing, I urge the representatives of the Inter-American Commission on human rights on their upcoming visit in May not to just visit Mexico’s maximum security prisons, but to interview the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience there, and to shake hands with them ––even though their own may end up smelling like rotten eggs—and to take the initiative of ascertaining the violations and abuses imposed on these prisoners day in, day out.
For the freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience!
Emilia Contreras Rodríguez and Francisco Cerezo Quiroz, parents of Antonio and Héctor Cerezo, hostages of the State still held prisoners and of Emiliana, Francisco and Alejandro Cerezo of the Comité Cerezo.