Filed under: Community Organizing, Indigenous, Repression, Southern Mexico
Statement from the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity in memory of the Indigenous Zapotec community organizer and ex-political prisoner, Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, who was assassinated on July 19, 2022 in Xoxocotlán, Oaxaca following decades of political persecution against him.
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Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez was born in the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca on February 19, 1958. Originally from San Agustín Loxicha, he was a campesino, teacher, director of education, father, and tireless fighter for his people.
A teacher by profession, one of his first organized actions was fighting for drinking water for the community of Jazmín del Potrero, where he taught classes. His struggle against local political bosses and gunmen in his town materialized in the founding of the Organización de los Pueblos Indígenas Zapotecos (OPIZ) in 1984.
His struggle led him to confront local, state, and national power groups. In 1997, the state of Oaxaca was governed by Diódoro Carrasco Altamirano, known for his repressive profile with detentions, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and cases of torture, particularly in the Loxicha region.
On December 15, 1997, Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez was kidnapped by state repressive forces in the city of Oaxaca, accused of participating in an action of the guerrilla group EPR against elements of the Marines, Preventive and Municipal Police, on August 28, 1996 in Crucecita, Huatulco. Álvaro was disappeared and tortured in order to force him to plead guilty before being imprisoned together with 152 Indigenous Zapotecs of Loxicha. He was unjustly accused of the crimes of conspiracy, terrorism, aggravated and attempted homicide.
During 20 years of unjust imprisonment, family members of Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez carried out campaigns, mobilizations, and events denouncing his imprisonment and struggling for freedom and justice. Different collectives, organizations, and individuals of Mexico and the world joined the initiatives, always encouraged by the tenacity and organizing work Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez carried out from inside prison. Together with political prisoners of Chiapas and Guerrero, they organized hunger strikes, mobilizations, and denunciations, resulting in the freedom of dozens of compañeros and compañeras.
In 2006, Álvaro joined the Other Campaign of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation adhering to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. In every opportunity from his place of struggle inside prison, Álvaro demonstrated his solidarity with the dignified struggles of the peoples of Mexico and the world. His voice always accompanied the disappeared, other political prisoners, and the politically persecuted, pointing out and denouncing the aggressions against the Zapatista communities, demanding the return of the Normalistas of Ayotzinapa, struggling for truth and justice.
In 2007, La Voz de los Zapotecos Xiches en Prision was born, an organization adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and member of the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity.
In 2013, the struggle for the freedom of Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez was embraced by the National Indigenous Congress, joining efforts, hands, and hearts for justice and dignity.
Through La Voz de los Xiches, Álvaro ruptured the prison walls and bars in Mexico and the world. His voice was heard in the valleys, towns, and communities of Oaxaca, in the Zócalo of Mexico City, in dignified Chiapas, at the base of the Xinantécatl volcano, in the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco. He was portrayed in murals in the valley of Chalko; he exchanged words and thoughts with the compañero Mumia Abu-Jamal in the United States; he was heard in radio programs in Guerrero, Queretaro, and North Carolina. Solidarity emerged in collective spaces of women who struggle, of punk groups, of anarchist, student, teachers, union, Indigenous, and campesino organizations. Solidarity crossed borders and one could feel the fraternal and combative embrace of Latin American, European, and US internationalism.
The fruits of the struggle for freedom and justice came to bloom in 2017, when Álvaro left prison thanks to decades of organization and mobilization.
With his community and in the city, Álvaro continued his civil and peaceful struggle, putting grassroots organizational work above the search for positions of electoral power. He denounced the corruption and cynicism of the groups of power who have always held the apparatus of the state, but with another name, beneath different initials, but acting with the same impunity for more than a century.
For us, the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity, it is impossible to separate the pathway of struggle and organizational work of the compañero Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, from his devious, cowardly, and despicable assassination. Coincidences do not exist. A few days ago, Álvaro accused local politicians of embezzlement, and yesterday July 19 he was assassinated. Since he had returned to his community, Álvaro was persecuted, and more than once assassination attempts were made against his life. Like Álvaro, many who have won their freedom from prison have been assassinated.
With this assassination, the paid media has given free reign to morbidity and disinformation, publishing photos showing the little ethic that characterizes the mercenaries who own the money and the editorial desks, publishing articles that lack legitimacy about the political intentions of the compañero Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez. Nothing more false and despicable than trying to distort a struggle that was organized from below, insinuating the implausible, that our compañero was seeking positions of power.
From the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity, we will struggle for truth and justice for our compañero Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez. Nothing will come from above but sterile and empty statements. Today more than ever, Mexican bureaucracy is a guarantor of impunity and cowardice.
Our solidarity, love, pain, and rage are with the Sebastián Luis family, especially our compañera Erika. For her, we send a fraternal and collective embrace.
We will remember the compañero Álvaro smiling next to his people, with his family, convinced that education and organization are fundamental to transform the roots of this system of death. His struggle for life will always be an example for us.
Farewell compañero Álvaro, may the earth embrace you, just as you taught us to defend her, and may freedom reach you wherever you are.
Truth and Justice for Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez!
Against Dispossession and Repression: Solidarity!
The Network Against Repression and For Solidarity