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México en la Lucha III. Chiapas cambia-Mexico in the Fight III. Chiapas changes

by George Salzman Sunday, Dec. 17, 2000 at 1:22 AM
george.salzman@umb.edu (from U.S. 011-52)-9-514-8242 Oaxaca, Oax., México

The new governor of the state of Chiapas, who assumed office on Friday, Dec. 8, immediately began the process for freeing all Zapatista prisoners. La Jornada's top news report, on Sunday, Dec 10, describes what the State Attorney General will find when he begins, on Monday, Dec 11, to review the files. The original report, 1.) in Spanish, is first, followed by 2.) my translation into English. (My preferred title concluded: Mexico in the Struggle III. Chiapas changes. But it was too long.)

(For the English version, scroll down through the Spanish text)

1.) Revelan irregularidades en los procesos a ind enas zapatistas

La Jornada, domingo 10 de diciembre de 2000

** Complicidad de ex gobernadores y Poder Judicial para legitimar encarcelamientos

** El procurador Mariano Herrán analiza los expedientes de casi un centenar de bases de apoyo presos

** Les aplicaban el "principio de inmediatez procesal", dice ombudsman

Juan Balboa, corresponsal, y Andrea Becerril, enviada, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chis., 9 de diciembre

** Cuando el gobierno de Pablo Salazar inicie, a partir de este lunes, la revisión de los expedientes de cerca de cien indígenas zapatistas, presos en diversas cárceles de la entidad, se pondrá al descubierto la complicidad que se dio en los últimos seis años entre los poderes Ejecutivo y Judicial de Chiapas, para legitimar el encarcelamiento ilegal y la violación de derechos humanos de simpatizantes y bases de apoyo del EZLN.

En la documentación, que ya analiza el procurador de Justicia del estado, Mariano Herrán Salvatti, resulta evidente que casi un centenar de indígenas, una buena parte de las etnias chol y tzeltal, fueron privados de la libertad a través de procedimientos amañados, torturados para obligarlos a inculparse por delitos que no cometieron y por los que ya fueron condenados, algunos incluso hasta con 25 años de prisión.

"Es obvio, en todos los casos, que los jueces consideran a los indígenas zapatistas opositores políticos" y que, con base en ello, sus procesos se dieron sin el análisis objetivo de las averiguaciones previas, legitimando con ellos detenciones arbitrarias, confesiones bajo tortura y obsequiando órdenes de aprehensión con rapidez inusitada", advierte el abogado defensor de los presos, Miguel Angel de los Santos.

Advirtió también que es por ello que la liberación de todos los presos políticos indígenas ha sido siempre una de las condiciones que el Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) ha puesto para retornar al diálogo con el gobierno federal.

De los Santos destacó que la situación que han debido enfrentar los cerca de cien indígenas que aún permanecen presos muestra por qué es también fundamental que se cumplan los acuerdos de San Andrés, toda vez que en los mismos, entre otros puntos, se reconoce a los pueblos indios sus formas de administrar justicia.

"Con ello se evitaría que los indígenas sean juzgados bajo mecanismos que les son culturalmente ajenos. El reconocimiento a esos derechos de las etnias en México, resulta, sin duda alguna, una aportación fundamental para establecer las bases de una paz duradera, fruto de la justicia".

El defensor precisó luego que la mayoría de los casos son de indígenas a quienes se acusó de participar en los hechos violentos que se dieron en la zona norte. Otra parte menor son los detenidos a raíz del desmantelamiento de municipios autónomos.

En el primer caso, al incrementarse la escalada de violencia en la región del conflicto armado conocida como zona norte, se inició también la presentación de acusaciones penales contra las bases de apoyo del EZLN y de personas identificadas con organizaciones políticas de oposición.

Al menos la mitad de los presos agrupados en La Voz de Cerro Hueco provienen de esa zona norte y se trata de indígenas de etnia chol, recluidos precisamente en el penal de Tuxtla Gutiérrez -del que toman el nombre para su organización- y en la cárcel distrital de Yajalón.

Detalló después que el esquema bajo el que fueron acusados es siempre el mismo: un militante del PRI presenta denuncia ante el Ministerio Público de un supuesto delito y de inmediato éste solicita orden de aprehensión, que el juez otorga con la misma celeridad, sin analizar la averiguación previa, y el indígena es detenido a través incluso de grandes operativos policiacos.

Es decir, el MP no realiza ninguna investigación para demostrar la probable responsabilidad del inculpado. Le bastan los señalamientos imputativos de delitos como privación ilegal de la libertad en la modalidad de secuestro, homicidio, asalto y lesiones graves, entre otros.

Por ello, las versiones de los hechos que se imputan a los zapatistas son "inverosímiles hasta el absurdo", pero los agentes del MP las aceptaron.

Un ejemplo de ello es el caso de Cristóbal Gutiérrez Gómez, base de apoyo del EZLN a quien se acusa del homicidio de César Santiz Pérez, muerto en una emboscada en la comunidad de Chimix, en el municipio de Chenalhó, el 10 de octubre de 1997. Lesionados y testigos describieron que sus atacantes salieron del monte, vestidos de negro, con pasamontañas y armas largas de fuego.

El zapatista Cristóbal Gutiérrez, sin embargo, fue detenido y procesado porque uno de los testigos dice haberlo reconocido entre el grupo de agresores "por la forma de su cuerpo".

A los indígenas zapatistas se les condenó con base en la aplicación recurrente del principio de inmediatez procesal, según el cual, aunque quienes se dicen ofendidos aclaren que no emitieron denuncia alguna y que no reconozcan las firmas que obran en sus supuestas declaraciones, se les concede valor de prueba plena, porque las primeras declaraciones son preferentes a las posteriores.

De los Santos destacó que con base en ese principio de inmediatez procesal, se tomaron como válidas las declaraciones bajo tortura o sin traductor.

Así le ocurrió a Adolfo López Vázquez, un indio chol procesado por delito de homicidio y próximo a recibir sentencia, aunque desde su primera declaración no contó con traductor. El juez que lleva la causa -detalla el defensor- consideró que no requería de éste. "Mi criada también es chol y habla muy bien el español", dijo, aunque un peritaje en materia lingüística del Instituto Nacional Indigenista demostró que no pudo haber narrado las tres páginas tamaño oficio en que consta su declaración autoinculpatoria.

Igualmente, y pese a que no existen pruebas de su presunta responsabilidad, Diego Pérez de la Cruz, de la comunidad Francisco Villa, del municipio de Sabanilla, está preso desde 1997 y condenado a 15 años de prisión, por la muerte de un policía, cargo que se le obligó a aceptar luego de brutales torturas.

Es la misma historia de casi una centena de indígenas zapatistas, que han pasado por largos procesos penales y "pese a que su defensa ha echado abajo todas y cada una de las acusaciones en su contra", siguen en la cárcel: 37 permanecen en Cerro Hueco, 20 en el penal de Yajalón, uno en el de Comitán, otro en el de Carranza, 23 en el de San Cristóbal, dos en Villa de las Flores, once en Tapachula, dos en Ocosingo y dos más recluidos en Tacotalpa, Tabasco.

Sus expedientes están en manos del procurador de la entidad, quien tiene la instrucción del gobernador Pablo Salazar de establecer este lunes una comisión que revise todos los casos de los presos zapatistas, con miras a su liberación inmediata.



2.) Irregularities shown in prosecutions of indigenous Zapatistas

La Jornada, Sunday, December 10, 2000

** Complicity of ex-governors and Judicial Power in order to legitimate imprisonments

** Attorney General Mariano Herrán is analyzing almost a hundred files to have a basis for helping prisoners

** The ombudsman says the "principle of immediate processing [imprisonment]" was applied to prisoners

Dispatched by Juan Balboa, reporter, and Andrea Becerril, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chis., December 9

** When Pablo Salazar's government begins this Monday to review the files of about a hundred indigenous Zapatistas, prisoners in various state jails, it will lead to the discovery of complicity that existed during the last six years between the executive and judicial powers of Chiapas, in order to legitimate illegal imprisonment and violation of the human rights of sympathizers and rank and file supporters of the EZLN.

In the documentation that the state Attorney General, Mariano Herrán Salvatti, already analyzed it is becoming evident that almost a hundred indigenous people, a good part of them of Chol and Tzeltal ethnicity, were deprived of liberty by means of falsified proceedings, tortured in order to force them to confess to crimes they hadn't committed and for which they were condemned, some of them for up to 25 years in prison.

"It's obvious, in all the cases, that the judges considered the indigenous Zapatistas political opponents" and, based on that, their processes were without objective analysis of prior disputes, legitimating arbitrary detentions with those processes, confessions under torture and presenting orders for arrest with uncommon speed," said the prisoners' defense lawyer, Miguel Angel de los Santos.

He further noted, it is because of that that the liberation of all indigenous political prisoners has always been one of the conditions that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) has set for returning to the dialogue with the federal government.

De los Santos emphasized that the situation that had to be faced of about a hundred indigenous people still remaining prisoners shows why it is also fundamental that the San Andrés Accords be fulfilled, since in them, among other points, the Indian peoples' own forms of administering justice are recognized.

"With those accords, the judgement of indigenous peoples in ways that are culturally foreign to them would be avoided. Recognition of those ethnic rights in Mexico will result, without any doubt, in a fundamental contribution for establishing the basis for a lasting peace with justice."

The defense counsel then specified that the majority of these cases are of indigenous people accused of participating in violent acts that happened in the northern zone. Another, lesser part are those arrested as a result of the dismanteling of autonomous municipalities.

First of all, as the scale of violence increased in the region of armed conflict known as the northern zone, they also began to introduce criminal accusations against the rank and file supporters of the EZLN and against people identified with political opposition organizations.

At least half of the prisoners in the group 'The Voice of Cerro Hueco' come from that northern zone and are considered to be indigenous of Chol ethnicity, locked up right there in the Tuxtla Gutiérrez prison -from which they take the name for their group -and in the district jail of Yajalón.

He detailed that the scheme by which they were accused is always the same: a PRI militant presents an accusation of a supposed crime to the Attorney General and immediately applies for an arrest order, which the judge grants with the same speed, without analyzing previous disputes, and the indigenous person is arrested by means including large police operations.

In other words, the Attoney General doesn't undertake any investigation to show probable responsibility of the accused. The accusatory citations of crimes such as illegal denial of liberty in the form of kidnapping, homicide, attack and serious injury, among others, are sufficient.

Because of that, the versions of the acts imputed to the Zapatistas range "from improbable to absurd," but the officers of the Attorney General accepted them.

An example of that is the case of Cristóbal Gutiérrez Gómez, a rank and file EZLN supporter who is accused of the homicide of César Santiz Pérez, dead in an ambush in the community of Chimix, in the municipality of Chenalhó, 10th of October, 1997. Injured men and witnesses described their attackers as coming from the mountain, dressed in black, with masks and heavy firearms.

The Zapatista Cristóbal Gutiérrez, however, was arrested and prosecuted because one of the witnesses said he had recognized him among the group of attackers "by the shape of his body."

The indigenous Zapatistas were condemned, based on recurrent application of the 'principle of immediate processing', even those against whom the so-called victims claimed they hadn't made accusations, and said they didn't recognize the signatures that made their supposed statements effective. Those supposed statements are given validity as full proof, because first statements are preferred to later ones.

De los Santos emphasized that based on that principle of immediate processing, they accepted declarations made under torture or without a translator as valid.

That's what happened to Adolfo López Vásquez, a Chol Indian prosecuted for the crime of homicide and then getting sentenced, even though since his first declaration he could not count on a translator. The judge who handled the case -detailed the defendor- considered that this was not required. "My maid is also Chol and speaks Spanish very well", he said, although an expert in linguistic matters of the National Indigenous Institue showed that he could not have narrated the three legal-size pages that record his confession statement.

Equally, and in spite of the fact that no proof exists of his presumed responsibility, Diego Pérez de la Cruz, of the community Francisco Villa, municipality of Sabanilla, has been imprisoned since 1997 and was condemned to 15 years in prison for killing a policeman, a charge that he was forced to accept after brutal torture.

It's the same story with almost a hundred indigenous Zapatistas, who went through major criminal prosecutions and "although their defense refuted each and every one of the accusations against them", went to jail: 37 remaining in Cerro Hueco, 20 in the jail at Yajalón, one in that of Comitán, another in that of Carranza, 23 in that of San Cristóbal, two in Villa de las Flores, eleven in Tapachula, two in Ocosingo and two more jailed in Tacotalpa, Tabasco.

Their files are in the hands of the state Attorney General, Mariano Herrán Salvatti, who Governor Pablo Salazar instructed to set up a commission this Monday that will review all the cases of Zapatista prisoners, with a view towards freeing them immediately.

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