Democracy Still a Dream for Mexico’s Political Prisoners

During his Presidential election campaign Fox
promised to assist the Loxichans. But all they
have to show after a year of his rule is a dead
mayor, a string of thieving municipal
administrators, an ever present army and 26
husbands still in jail.

2002.06.10

Ever since 150 of their husbands, sons and
brothers were rounded up , tortured and
imprisoned, the women of Loxicha, Mexico, have been campaigning for their release.

Despite a four year permanent protest in the town
square of Oaxaca City, initiating a hunger
strike, organising international support from
human rights groups and walking ‘Zapatista style’
all the way to Mexico city to demand freedom
under a proposed amnesty law, they have so far
failed to catch the attention of a President who
says that he is busy creating a Mexico that
‘defends and protects human rights in every place
and in every hour’.

During his Presidential election campaign Fox
promised to assist the Loxichans. But all they
have to show after a year of his rule is a dead
mayor, a string of thieving municipal
administrators, an ever present army and 26
husbands still in jail.

‘Guerrillas’ confess under (FBI led?) interrogations

The army raided the poverty stricken coffee lands
of Loxicha, in 1996 on the pretext of chasing a
purported cell of the EPR, (Popular Revolutionary
Army) a guerrilla group which originated in
neighboring Guererro.

The EPR staged a number of hit and run raids in
Guerrero and Oaxaca in the summer of 1996,
attacking the popular coastal resort of Huatulco,
killing numerous members of the police and army.

They also kidnapped the then head of Banamex,
reputedly earning themselves the highest ransom
fee ever collected in Latin America.

After identifying one of the guerrillas as a
former municipal officer of Loxicha the army
justified their invasion, and detention of 150
men, including the municipal administration and
all the school teachers.

The prisoners deny involvement with the EPR and
maintain that their confessions were extracted
under torture. The EPR also deny any connection between
themselves and the people of Loxicha.

After being beaten and forced to drink barrels of
water, before suffering electric shock treatment
the men signed blank pages on which confessions
were later filled in.

Some of those tortured reported that white
skinned men in FBI caps assisted. FBI training officers
are known to have been in Oaxaca in 1997 training
local security forces.

Although 26 men remain in prison, the others have
now been freed under a state amnesty law.

15 others were murdered and 22 have disappeared.

Those that were released found neither land nor
work or the tools that had been promised.
Some received death threats and many have migrated
North or gone to the US in search of work .

‘Fox has to look like he’s doing something’

On April 10th to commemorate the murder of
Emiliano Zapata, Mexico’s revolutionary hero the
Loxichan campaigners joined thousands of other
protesters in Mexico city demanding freedom of all
political prisoners.

Along with the Mexican Human Rights League and
others the Loxichans have been pressing Fox to
act on the stalled federal amnesty law and
release the remaining prisoners.

Until the federal amnesty law is enacted it is
easy for Fox to only use his Presidential power
of selective amnesty when the political need
arises.

Fox released two peasant
environmentalists jailed in Guerrero State on
“humanitarian grounds” owing to the
illnesses that both were suffering from.

They had been convicted on weapons charges, but
supporters say they had been framed by the
military, who were seeking to protect local
logging interests.

Their release coincided neatly with a speech Fox
was to give to the UN on human rights.

‘Fox has to look like he’s doing something, so he
freed the environmentalists but he didn’t absolve
them of the charges. The cycle of impunity remains.’ warns a
spokesperson from Amnesty International in Mexico.

Despite the tireless efforts of the protestors, it
looks unlikely that Fox will take any action to
free the prisoners of Loxicha until he is in need
of another political pawn.

[ Alice Hutchinson currently writes for
The Oaxaca Times and has been published in
Latin America Press and The News, Mexico.
She can be reached at hutchinsonalice@hotmail.com. ]

Author: Alice Hutchinson

News Service: The.Experiment.org