Filed under: Indigenous, Land, Northern Mexico, Political Prisoners
Fidencio Aldama is an Indigenous Yaqui land defender and political prisoner from the northern Mexican state of Sonora. He was arrested on October 27, 2016, and later sentenced to fifteen years and six months in prison on trumped up charges related to a death in the community of Loma de Bácum, Sonora.
Fidencio’s arrest and draconian sentence are not the result of a crime he committed, but rather a clear act of state repression carried out in opposition to the resistance in the town of Loma de Bácum against a natural gas pipeline from running through their traditional territory.
The struggle of Loma de Bácum, and the political imprisonment of Fidencio Aldama, reflects an ongoing pattern of severe state repression against Indigenous land defenders in so-called North America and across the globe. Like the Standing Rock Sioux, like the Wet’suwet’en nation, like so many other Indigenous-led struggles against capitalist projects of death, the Indigenous Yaqui of Loma de Bácum have stood up courageously to defend their territories, and have faced severe repercussions for doing so.
We make a call out to folks in North America and throughout the world, to take up the struggle for Fidencio’s freedom as your own. After all, the natural gas pipeline sought to be built in Yaqui territory, crosses the US Mexico border, and is being built by the US company Sempra Energy. These capitalist projects of death are transnational in nature, and so should be the resistance.
Let’s resurrect the cross-border and cross-cultural organizing embodied by the Magonistas in the early 20th century, which brought together anarchists, socialists, migrant workers and Indigenous people, from different geographies and different walks of life, into networks of solidarity and struggle seeking to bring down capitalism and the state.
Below we publish three audios from Fidencio’s partner, with their accompanying translations, giving context to the struggle in Loma de Bácum, the arrest of Fidencio, and the current state of his legal process. We also publish below two pamphlets, one in English and one in Spanish, summarizing Fidencio’s case. We encourage you all to download, print and distribute them wherever possible. For more information about Fidencio’s case or if you want to get involved, send us an email: [email protected].
Solidarity with Indigenous land defenders and Indigenous prisoners throughout the globe! Free Fidencio Aldama!
Audio giving context to the struggle in Loma de Bácum and Fidencio’s arrest (May 2019)
My name is Maria del Carmen García Vázquez. My husband is Fidencio Aldama. He is a political prisoner of the Yaqui Tribe, from the town of Loma de Bácum, Sonora. We, the town of Loma de Bácum, are opposed to a gas pipeline that the government of the State of Sonora—the government of Claudia Pavlovich Arellano—wants to build.
On October 21st, Yaquis from the eight Yaqui towns arrived in our community. These Yaquis receive money and new cars from the government and from the pipeline company, Sempra Energy. These Yaquis came to attack our traditional guard, and to attack our community, as a means to impose their authority and move forward with the gas pipeline project. For unknown reasons, we as Yaquis and as Catholics, we say it is metaphysical; that day October 21st, they arrived and attacked our traditional guard and our community. Unfortunately, in that conflict, Cruz Huitimea Piña was shot and killed. As the result of bad luck, or due to destiny, Fidencio Aldama Pérez was accused of the murder. That day Fidencio Aldama Pérez was working as part of the traditional guard, what they call community security or community police in other Indigenous communities. He had a 45-caliber weapon. Cruz was assassinated with a 22-caliber weapon. You all can see the difference there. Fidencio had a 45-caliber weapon and Cruz was killed with a 22-caliber weapon.
On October 27th, 2016, a week after, or six days after, the prosecutor’s office asked our Indigenous authorities permission to interview or take statements from the people that were there part of the traditional guard the day of the conflict. They asked to speak with Fidencio. At the moment Fidencio got into the automobile, darkness took over. They took Fidencio, alongside the compañera, Anabella Carlon, and a lawyer named Merardo, to Obregon. There he was taken to the attorney general’s office, where they made him sign papers and where he was given an arrest warrant. At that moment, Fidencio said he wondered why his arrest warrant wasn’t given to him in front of the traditional guard, in front of the traditional authorities and the people of the community. He asked why he had to sign the papers. The investigating state police told him that everything would be fine. He thus signed because he didn’t have any other option.
After Fidencio signed the paperwork, he was taken to prison in Ciudad Obregon. Since October 27th, he has been there, deprived of his freedom, innocent. After four months, Fidencio had a hearing. There, witnesses were present who said he is guilty. A year later, the trial was held. During the trial, the witnesses they brought forward were people they had paid off. They were the same people who arrived and attacked our town on October 21st. They brought these witnesses as a means to keep Fidencio in prison. This would help to pressure the authorities to sign the passage of the gas pipeline. Fidencio was eventually sentenced to fifteen years and six months in prison.
Fidencio remains in prison. His words support and nourish us. He tells us to stay together, to continue fighting for our territory. He says if he has to be there imprisoned, that is not important. What is important is that we continue the struggle. However, there are days that he says to me, when I talk to him or visit him in prison, he says to me that he can’t continue there, that he doesn’t want to be there. “I want to leave, I want to be with my children. I want to be in my home,” he says. I want this all to end, but what can I do. All of this makes me very sad, but I can’t do anything.
Right now the lawyer, David Guadalupe Valenzuela, has submitted an appeal in the Court of Hermosillo, Sonora. They have three months or ninety days to resolve the appeal. Those three months end in June. Supposedly the lawyer also went to talk with the federal government—with the secretary of government—because there was the possibility of the Senator Nestora Salgado helping release political prisoners. However, it turned out that the case of Fidencio is in the hands of the Ministry of Interior Affairs; they have the case of Fidencio.
Just yesterday, the lawyer, David Guadalupe Vanzuela, sent me a message saying that the president’s office was going to take a look at Fidencio’s case. The president’s office has solicited all of the paperwork related to the case of Fidencio saying they were going to give priority to the case. We don’t know how honest that is.
I only ask those that listen to this audio, that you help me to get Fidencio free. If you can share this audio, or if you can help us with this struggle, I would be so grateful.
His children need a father. The pain is so powerful that sometimes it is impossible to endure. Either way, we are here and we continue the struggle. Thank you all for the support and hopefully you can share this audio to help free Fidencio Aldama. I send you all greetings and blessings.
Audio update regarding the negation of his appeal (November 2019)
Regarding the appeal in the case of Fidencio Aldama Pérez, the result was again negative. They again found Fidencio guilty. His sentence of fifteen years and six months was upheld. I just spoke with Fidencio Aldama’s lawyer. He is concerned because the judges who will decide the writ of amparo, they had returned Fidencio’s appeal case to the appellate court because the appellate judges had not reviewed Fidencio’s case. Nonetheless they found him guilty. The fact is that the appellate judges are supposed to have reviewed the case of Fidencio. However, they continue with the same attitude and with the same response, that Fidencio is guilty. Now the case of Fidencio will advance to the next legal stage, to the writ of amparo. The judges who will decide on the writ of amparo have already taken account of the fact that there are anomalies, there are injustices in Fidencio’s case. That is why they had returned the appeal.
Do you remember? I imagine that you do remember what I told you. I sent you all an audio about this. So now, to notify you all compañeros, that in the appeal process, the result was negative and he was again found guilty. Now we will go directly to the writ of amparo but I would like you to support us by applying pressure there in Mexico City, or wherever you are, to see what can be done with the imposition carried out by the governor, Claudia Pavlovic, imposing her will to continue saying that Fidencio is guilty. The appellate judges are still with the government, colluding with the government, and that is why the negative result came again.
So, if you can support us compañerxs, I don’t know, maybe applying pressure. You all know more about this than I because I have never been the wife of a political prisoner. Not until now. If you can support us by applying pressure. I would like to ask from the bottom of my heart that you help us. You all know that this time of the year, in December, is very sad when you have a family member far away. More so that he is in jail, and not with us. Not with our children. Not with me. Not with his family. It’s very sad and that is why I ask for your support. Nothing more. This message was to notify you all of what is happening in the case of Fidencio.
I send you all greetings and a strong embrace. All the good vibes I have left and my strength. Thanks for your support.
Audio update regarding the new appeal (April 2020)
Hello everyone, compas, I send you greetings from my village, Loma de Bácum, from our Yaqui tribe. I want to give some information on Fidencio’s case. We are still in the process of filing an appeal, but we still have not submitted the paperwork because the lawyer is asking us for around $850 dollars. We are fundraising through raffles, selling wooden toys that Fidencio makes in prison. They gave him three months to file the appeal, so we are working on that.
Right now, with the coronavirus, the pandemic, visits to the prison in Ciudad Obregon are only allowed on Sundays. Visits have been prohibited on Saturdays. Each prisoner could only receive two visitors at once before, but now it is only one visitor per prisoner. Since my mother in law is a senior, she can no longer go visit him, only I can go visit him. However, with the coronavirus stuff, it is concerning for me to go because what if something happens to the imprisoned population. What if they catch the virus because I’m infected and I go and get them infected? This would be troubling since the prison would not do much for them. The infirmary does not have sufficient resources to take care of the sick. That is why I have not gone to see him because I do not want to risk exposing Fidencio to COVID. Nonetheless, every day he calls me, we talk, and he feels sad because I have not visited him. I explained to him that is for his own good so nothing bad happens to him. I explained to him the measures he needs to take to prevent him from contracting COVID. When we get there to visit, we just get some hand sanitizer and are told we have to cover our faces when we get to the prison in Ciudad Obregon.
We hope this is over soon so we can go visit our loved ones. Here in Sonora, in Ciudad Obregon, those of us that know people in prison, we have not visited to avoid something bad happening to them. I have not been able to see Fidencio, but I have been fundraising by selling the stuff that he makes. I take the money to him so even though I do not see him I’m still trying to support him. I could take him food every week, but it also costs money to go visit him. Regardless, when I can, I take him food. This is how things are going at the moment. We are seeking to file an appeal, and we continue to resist, collecting funds for the appeal.
I send all the compas greeting and hugs. I hope we all can continue to resist with everything that is going on. We must not abandon our struggles. We must continue with the light, that light that at one time or another our ancestors have given us. The light the Zapatistas have given us. So that we encourage each other. So that we continue in this struggle with that light and lighting the struggles of others and supporting them. I send you all greetings, and I am thankful for everything. Thanks to all the compas that have supported Fidencio. I want to thank the compa Marcelino who is imprisoned in Comitan, Chiapas. Marcelino thank you for the public statement you released in support of Fidencio. Fidecio was really happy about this. He said he would send Marcelino a letter. Thank you for everything. I send you all greetings and blessings.