Editor’s note: See below for an update on what happened on August 2.
Once again, today, August 2nd, a hearing is scheduled for five of the seven prisoners of the community assembly of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón.
After two years and seven months since the judicial process began for the first detainees, we continue in the testimonial stage, where the only thing that keeps our compañeros incarcerated are the testimonies of eight people. On more than seven occasions, these people have made excuses so as not to be questioned in court, thus preventing the end of this particular stage in the case. It is worth mentioning that some of these declarations are of people that were not in the vicinity of the events—that is to say their declarations are hearsay. Other declarations are textual copies of others, and at least six of the eight are family members and/or sympathizers with Manuel Zepeda Cortés and his daughter, Elisa Zepeda Lagunas. These two have been in charge of maintaining the judicial and political context in the Mazateca community since 2012.
In spite of each one of the people having been notified, only two of them, Manuel Zepeda and his brother Vicente Zepeda, have fulfilled their questioning. This came after various forms of pressure, and was carried out the same day that they arrived in court to sign papers to be prosecuted for the crime of torture (they have gone at the end of each month for more than a year). This crime has been reclassified again to “injuries and abuse of authority” due to irregularities in the process. These processes are the result of an ambush they carried out together with others (including the husband of Elisa Zepeda) against members of the community assembly. The ambush took place on November 20th, 2012, when members of the community assembly were headed to Mexico City for a political action for the anniversary of the death of Ricardo Flores Magón.
Up until now, the other six have not appeared in court. As a result, urgent measures have been promoted such as fines for them all or their presentation in court using police force. However, the three judges that have passed through the Mixed Court of Huautla de Jiménez during this time have not enacted these measures. The fact that they have not fulfilled their court order has lengthened the judicial process, above all maintaining our compañeros imprisoned for nearly three years. Clearly, the sole purpose of these delay tactics is to tire out our compañeros and their families, as the hearings are scheduled more or less every two months, and we have to wait all of that time while the “witnesses” do not even present themselves, much less “legally” justify their absence.
In the last hearing on May 23rd, after the compañeros demanded their release in front of the judge making him see the irregularities with which the process has been carried out, he promised to do “everything in his capacity and inside of the law” to have these people present. That is to say, according to the means of limitation that already correspond to their number of absences, they would be arrested for 72 hours to ensure their presence. As in past occasions, where these arrests were supposed to be made, we again do not expect them to happen. What he also did was intimidate the relatives and friends accompanying the prisoners, making it known that for the following hearing, they did not want people present. It is important to mention that the hearings are public and it is the only manner in which some of the family members, due to their age, economic situation and distance, can see their compañeros. As it stands, four of them are in Ixcotel, a prison that is located more than five hours from Eloxochitlán, and one in Cuicatlán, that is three hours from the community.
It is worth mentioning that following the release of the other six compañerxs that were prisoners in the same case and have since left prison, Elisa Zepeda has followed in her father’s footsteps. Presenting herself as a human rights defender and currently holding the position of municipal president of Eloxochitlán, she has benefited from the presidency. She has used municipal money to pay court fees and has used municipal police to threaten family members of compañeros who remain with arrest warrants against them in the same case.
Furthermore, through a note she bought in the newspaper, Elisa stated: “When I have to go to the court to testify as part of the trial, an opposition group also goes with sticks and machetes intimidating me from the outside. The situation worries me dearly”. This is another lie with which she tries to justify her absence in the process and the lack of justice for our compañeros, as she has not once attended a hearing.
The people that attend the hearings, the majority adults and grandparents, never have brought a stick or machete. What they have brought are plates of food to share with the compañeros (which has been witnessed by the staff of the court themselves) and the hope that they will see their compañeros back in their homes. We demand that the lies stop and that she presents herself in court—a court protected by men contracted with firearms that circle the area trying to intimidate those in attendance. We demand that she attend with the others that have to be questioned and not stall the process any longer.
Lastly, we call on all of the people that would like to verify, and especially the media outlet that published the note, the circus the hearings have become and the lack of interest of the authorities of the court to advance on the case that keeps our compañeros imprisoned and persecuted. We invite you to see with your own eyes what is happening…
Miguel Peralta, Prisoner in Cuicatlán
Los otros abogadoz
Families and Friends of the Prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón
July 30th, 2017
UPDATE: Ongoing Irregularities in the Case of the Political Prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca
Yesterday, August 2nd, 2017, a hearing was scheduled for five of the seven remaining political prisoners of the community assembly of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca. As has become the norm in this legal process—that is to say irregularities becoming the norm—the prisoners were not brought to the court and the supposed witnesses didn’t arrive to give their testimonies. With the state citing lack of resources—including the lack of gas money for the patrol cars to transport the prisoners to the hearing—the legal process again has been delayed until another hearing is scheduled. The supposed lack of resources to transport the prisoners works hand in hand with the ongoing inaction of the supposed witnesses to fulfill their duty to give their supposed testimonies. The justification goes something like this: if the witnesses aren’t to arrive to give their testimonies, sparse resources shouldn’t be used to transport the prisoners to the hearing. These justifications work as a circle of falsities that maintain our comrades imprisoned on fabricated crimes.
The current municipal president of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, and one of the remaining six individuals who have failed to give their testimony in the case, Elisa Zepeda Lagunas, has cited threats of violence and intimidation as a pretext to not attend her scheduled appearance to give her testimony. She claims an opposition group has threatened to arrive with sticks and machetes in front of the court in the case she arrives. This pretext flies in the face of reality, as those present yesterday in front of the court, as is always the case, were family members and friends, sharing coffee and food, hoping to see their loved ones and comrades. It is important to mention that highly armed police forces were also present yesterday both in front of the court as well as throughout the community of Huautla de Jimenez where the hearing was to take place. This heightened police presence is an insidious order from the judge, serving to intimidate family members and comrades present at the court rather than protect the supposed witnesses and the fictional threats against them.
As the legal process has been filled with these types of irregularities, and the judge is clearly working in the interests of, and in direct collaboration with, Elisa Zepeda Lagunas and her father Manuel Zepeda, the judicial route to freedom for the political prisoners seems bleak at best. With that, as comrades of the political prisoners, we ask that you show your solidarity by spreading the word far and wide, and remaining attentive to the case of the political prisoners and the ongoing resistance and repression in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca.