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Jan 24, 18

Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, former Political Prisoner in Mexico: Greetings to J20 Defendants and a call for Solidarity

The following video and statement comes from Mexican indigenous militant and former political prisoner Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, and is both a statement of solidarity with the J20 defendants, as well as an appeal for support. 

Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez is an indigenous (Zapotec) organizer, an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, and a former political prisoner from Loxicha, in Oaxaca, Mexico. After twenty years in prison, Álvaro obtained his freedom on July 7, 2017. However, he and other former Loxicha prisoners are facing the threat of re-incarceration unless they pay exorbitant “reparations” to the court that sentenced them. An international solidarity campaign has created an online fundraising effort here:

Álvaro Sebastiánwas born to a peasant family in San Agustín Loxicha in 1959. He worked as an indigenous education teacher in the early 1980s. In 1984, Álvaro founded the Organization of Indigenous Zapotec Pueblos (OPIZ), an indigenous movement in Loxicha dedicated to combating paramilitary violence, land theft, and extreme poverty. In the aftermath of the uprisings of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas (EZLN) in 1994 and the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) in Oaxaca in 1996, the Mexican government used these armed movements as an excuse to militarize the Loxicha region and conduct a savage war of counterinsurgency against its social movement. Starting in 1996, state and federal armed forces arrested more than 250 indigenous people from Loxicha, amidst extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, and state terror. After two decades of organizing in and outside the prisons, the last three Loxicha prisoners, including Álvaro, obtained their freedom in July and October 2017. Since obtaining his freedom, Álvaro has renewed his organizing work with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI).

“Keep Loxicha Free” is a rapid-response economic solidarity initiative in support of Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez and Abraham García Ramírez, former Loxicha prisoners who spent twenty years in prison for confronting the Mexican state, and who now face the threat of re-incarceration. “Keep Loxicha Free” is inspired by and supportive of the creative tradition of Loxicha prisoners’ “juridical self-defense,” as part of decades of prison organizing and solidarity, and a rich history of Loxicha resistance against capitalist and state violence.

In addition to the immediate urgency of the fundraising campaign, the publication of Álvaro’s letter and video is also the first in a proposed series of exchanges and dialogue between former Loxicha prisoners, La Voz de los Zapotecos Xichesen Prisión collective — and compas in the United States, around issues of state violence in Mexico and the US, prison organizing and solidarity, the use of the courts and the law to repress dissent. Álvaro wrote his greeting to the J20 defendants in response to the greetings that J20 defendants from Michigan sent to him last December. J20 and Loxicha—these two movements look at each other, across distant yet interconnected calendars and geographies, from opposite ends of a looking glass of state violence and resistance: As the last Loxicha prisoners are emerging from decades of political imprisonment, the J20 defendants confront the prospect of decades of political imprisonment.

For more information on Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez and La Voz de los Zapotecos Xiches en Prisión (in Spanish):

Letter by Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, former “Loxicha” political prisoner from Oaxaca, Mexico

January 1, 2018

My name is Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, Adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, Indigenous Zapotec from the Loxicha Region (Oaxaca, Mexico). Since the decade of the eighties, I began organizing with my community, to defend ourselves from injustice and abuse, in a struggle against oblivion, marginalization, and extreme poverty.

As a consequence of the struggle, aimed at destroying our organizational work, I was detained on December 15, 1997, and I was delivered to a state prison on December 26 of that year, after being subjected to physical and psychological torture for eleven days in a clandestine prison.

After being disappeared, I was charged with eleven crimes: aggravated homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated lesions, illegal deprivation of liberty, use of foreign property, theft, damage to foreign property, stockpiling weapons, terrorism, conspiracy, and illicit association.

I was sentenced to 27 years in prison for two of the charges: aggravated murder and attempted murder.

I remained 19 years and 7 months in various state and federal prisons, serving out an illegal sentence, as I was judged and sentenced for events that do not constitute the alleged crime of “homicide” in the specific context of the accusation.

I ask myself, how is it that a citizen can be deprived of his freedom, accused of various crimes—and throughout 15 years of legal battles, one by one, all of the accusations are proven baseless?

On July 7, 2017, I left prison, after demanding the fulfillment of the “benefits” of an early release. Yet this “benefit” is only given conditionally, with the obligation to pay Damage Reparations, consisting in a sum of $125,000 pesos MXN (approximately $6,700 USD), divided into monthly payments of $5,210 (~$280 USD).

Greetings to the compañeras and compañeros of the J20 Defense (“Jotaveinte”), who are currently confronting political trials over the events that took place on January 20, 2017, during the protests of resistance against the Trump administration and the imposition of its fascist policies. We see this as an attack on the youth who resist and rebel and reveal themselves.

Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez

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