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Political prisoners in Mexico

Lourdes Garcia Larque

Sábado 28 de febrero de 2009, por Comité Cerezo México

Together with their younger brother Alejandro Cerezo (released in 2005) and two other men, they were detained in August 2001, under the false accusations of being responsible for placing explosive artefacts in three branches of a bank and of being members of the People´s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

They were charged with “organised crime”, and “possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives”.

The Cerezo brothers were detained with no search or arrest warrant. During the detention they were tortured for 12 hours.

For over a year they were held in high security prisons without being charged. One of their lawyers, the human rights activist Digna Ochoa, was assassinated while representing them.

The detainees have suffered continuous harassment during their time in prison, including constant psychological torture, and long periods of isolation. In addition, their siblings outside jail and members of the human rights organisation Comite Cerezo have been constantly harassed and persecuted.

The case of the Cerezo brothers is not an isolated case of unjust imprisonment for political reasons. There are more than 500 political prisoners in Mexico today, the highest number since the “dirty war” of the ’60s and ’70s.

Since 2000, when the conservative National Action Party took office, a total of 900 people have been detained or persecuted for political reasons.

As was the case during the ’70s, the police and military have taken measures to stop and dissolve any political opposition. The dirty war of the ’60s and ’70s left us the inheritance of more than 500 disappeared, and several accounts of assassinations, torture and imprisonment.

Many of the prisoners in Mexico are indigenous people who were not even given an interpreter for their defence. Many are environmental activists who oppose transnational corporations stealing the natural wealth, or defend forests from being destroyed.

Many of them had been captured in frame-ups and massive police operations to stop social mobilisations, as was the case during the 2006 uprising in the state of Oaxaca.

In the Mexican jails there are several Zapatista supporters, students, and people defending their right to the land, human rights activists and sacked workers demanding the right to work.

There are prisoners of the insurgent groups the Popular Revolutionary Army and the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army.

Some famous cases include the Atenco leaders of the People´s Front in Defence of the Land, Ignacio del Valle and others, condemned to more than 67 years in prison — an exaggerated sentence that not even the most infamous professional and cruel kidnappers would face.

The military personnel and police officers who take part in the illegal detentions, physical aggression and sexual abuse of the victims, walk free on the streets and get promoted.

On the afternoon of February 16, Antonio Cerezo, now free, shouted to the crowd of activists waiting outside the jail: “Now we will keep fighting to release all the political prisoners in Mexico, and for all the disappeared from the past and the present”.

Green Left

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