Over two years since his illegal detention, demands grow for the freedom of Zapatista political prisoner, Manuel Gómez Vázquez

Autonomous authorities of the Zapatista Council of Good Government (JBG) of Caracol IX, denounced the unjust imprisonment of Manuel Gómez Vázquez, member of the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). He was detained illegally on December 4, 2020, and remains imprisoned in CERSS No. 16, in the municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.

According to a statement from the Zapatistas and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), the detention of Manuel Gómez was carried out by an armed civilian group, and is an act of criminalization for his adherence to the EZLN.

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Gómez Vázquez is a 22-year-old Maya-Tseltal campesino, originally from the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality (MAREZ) of Ricardo Flores Magón, located in Nuevo Jerusalén, in the official state municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.

“The truth is, they’ve come after him for being a Zapatista. For the bad governments being a Zapatista is a crime that is punishable by slander, persecution, imprisonment, and death,” the autonomous authorities emphasized in a public statement.

After more than two years of arbitrary detention, in a press conference on Tuesday April 18 in the offices of Frayba, human rights defenders explained that Gómez is “falsely accused of homicide after violent events which took place in the ejido El Censo, in the municipality of Ocosingo.” In the press conference they also described how the member of the Zapatista support bases has been a victim of torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment.

Fabricated Case File

In a communique released in March of this year, Frayba explained that on December 4-5 of 2020, violent events left four people dead in the ejido El Censo, in the municipality of Ocosingo. “The prosecutor’s office didn’t carry out a thorough or scientific investigation. Rather, they pinned the homicide on Manuel who at the time of the events was at home with his family,” explained the human rights center.

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For their part, the authorities of the Zapatista Council of Good Government shared that they’d carried out an investigation of the events confirming Manuel Gómez Vázquez’s innocence. However, in spite of “the official authorities of the ejido El Censo knowing that the accusations against the compañero Manuel Gómez Vázquez are a lie, they are afraid to say so because they are being threatened with death by the families of the killers,” denounced the Zapatistas.

According to authorities of the Zapatista Council of Good Government, the Indigenous Justice Prosecutor’s Office, a wing of the State Attorney General’s Office, “fabricated the case file with false evidence already disproven by the municipal agent.” These statements support those made by Frayba in March, when they explained that the prosecutor’s office lacks the evidence to accuse and maintain Gómez Vázquez in prison.

“The prosecutor’s office fabricated evidence, not presenting the supposed witnesses to give their testimonies, which has resulted in the oral hearing being postponed. There are no autopsies for the homicides, and the state judiciary has exceeded the limit on preventive detention, which in no case should exceed two years,” Frayba contextualizes.

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The Zapatista authorities maintain that responsibility for the illegal detention of the member of the Zapatista support bases lies with the governor of Chiapas, Rutilio Escandón, and the municipal president of Ocosingo, Jesús Alberto Oropeza Nájera, both belonging to the political party MORENA.

“We know well that they are against us because we are Zapatista support bases, they unjustly imprison us…they are devastating the community, dividing the lands. They are destroyers of our community.  What happened to the president saying first the poor? First they are trampling on and killing us, the poor,” sustained the autonomous authorities.



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