Communique from Released Zapatista Prisoners

We, the political prisoners of The Voice of Cerro Hueco who were released from jail on May 23, 2002, Rafael López Santiz, Gustavo Estrada Gómez and Alejandro Méndez Díaz, wish to declare to the nation that our release was not due to “political goodwill,” as the Federal Government would like to have believed, but rather because we had already served our sentences in accordance with the Penal Code and its minimal requirements, and therefore we deserved to have been released earlier.

First, we insist that the federal government should not be saying that, with our release, they are fulfilling the three conditions noted by the EZLN for rebuilding a true dialogue.  It is worth remembering that we have completed 90%, 60% and 50% of our sentences, which were the result of false accusations against us.  Vicente Fox’s government, however, knowing that we had already completed the necessary time in order to be released, and that our imprisonment was unjust, toyed with our liberty for more than a year and a half.  This situation turned into one of torture beginning in April, when they began publicizing our release.  It is worth mentioning that, in the case of our compañero, Rafael López Santiz, the Vicente Fox government insisted on keeping him imprisoned until yesterday, even though he had completed his sentence some time ago, and he has suffered from ill health for more than three years as a result of his continued incarceration and inattention to his advanced age.

Second, we demand the liberation of our compañeros who are unjustly imprisoned, as we were, in jails in Tabasco and Querétaro.  As long as these compañeros are not released, the federal government is demonstrating that there is no real interest in fulfilling the signals necessary for a real dialogue.  This lack of will is coming from the same president who, during his presidential campaign, promised to resolve the conflict in Chiapas in fifteen minutes.  Nonetheless, we, the political prisoners have, from our cells, been daily testament to the fact that the first year and a half of Vicente Fox’s mandate have been the longest fifteen minutes in Mexican history.

Third, regarding the Indigenous Rights and Culture Law, it has not been carried out within the framework of the COCOPA Law, as was agreed in San Andrés, and as the indigenous peoples and national and international civil society have demanded.  Because of this, the lands, cultures and autonomous institutions continue to be ignored and disregarded, and, therefore, more indigenous compañeros, who continue committing the crime of defending their rights, are continuing to be imprisoned.  As the soldiers and paramilitaries who are in our communities could also testify, as long as this situation remains unresolved, it will be we, the indigenous peoples, who will suffer the unjust and violent consequences of Señor Presidente’s “Holy Peace.”

Fourth, given all the above, we cannot be taken in by the lies of a bad government which wants to take advantage of our rightful release in order to deceive the peoples of the world that it is fulfilling the three conditions necessary for renewing dialogue with the EZLN.  For the same reason, we shall continue demanding that the federal government take the necessary actions for peace, which continue to be as simple today as they were on December 8, 2000:  the release of the Zapatista political prisoners and the constitutional recognition of the COCOPA Law.


Rafael López Santiz
Gustavo Estrada Gómez, and
Alejandro Méndez Díaz

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