Zapatista Support Base Remains Kidnapped by the State Over a Year Since His Detention

Mobilization of the EZLN in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. March 2022. Photo: Tercios Compas/ Enlace Zapatista

November 25 marked one year since the arbitrary detention of José Díaz Gómez, Support Base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, who remains in pretrial detention in the CERSS No. 17, also known as “El Bambú,” located in Catazajá, in the north of Chiapas.

According to a communique from the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), Díaz Gómez, Indigenous Ch’ol accused of robbery, “remains in a serious situation which threatens his human dignity due to the fabrication of a crime against him.”

“The accusation is based on the fabrication of a crime by the State Attorney General’s Office. This has been the mode of conduct of this institution which operates a pattern of fabricating guilt and criminalization against human rights defenders in complicity with local judicial power,” contextualized the human rights center.

Frayba details that the process of pretrial detention against Díaz Gómez has been “maliciously prolonged.” Also, they point out that given the lack of evidence against Díaz Gómez, the Selva District Prosecutor’s Office and the Magistrate’s Court have worked together to simulate a process, at the cost of his freedom.

For example, both instances have extended the investigation times with the objective of delaying the trial, “knowing that it is impossible to prove any responsibility against him,” sustained the organization.

Another point to highlight is the lack of due diligence on part of the Chiapas Public Defenders Office. Just over two months ago, a new public defender was assigned to Díaz Gómez, who has still not interviewed him to get up to date on his legal situation and to know the necessities in order to seek justice. “Consequently, the public defender has not carried out the necessary actions to push for his prompt release,” denounces Frayba.

Faced with this scenario, this past November 15, Díaz Gómez solicited before the Magistrate’s Court of Catazajá, the modification of his pretrial detention to carry out his process in conditional freedom.

The Support Base of the EZLN has two kids who are minors and a wife “who also suffer the consequences of the detention, affecting their family life, as well as their physical, psychological, and economic situation, which is why a change in the pretrial condition is a necessity to lessen such impacts. To date, there has been no response to this request,” contextualized the human rights organization.

The EZLN has denounced that José Díaz Gómez is kidnapped by the government of Chiapas for being a Zapatista. The same occurred in the case of Manuel Gómez Vázquez, who recently recuperated his freedom after nearly three years arbitrarily detained.

On November 16, Manuel Gómez Vázquez, Support Base of the EZLN, was freed after nearly three years of arbitrary detention. Photo: Frayba

The human rights center, based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, emphasizes that there is a pattern of criminalization in other parts of Mexico as well, against “Indigenous peoples who oppose the imposition of megaprojects being pushed by the current government. They highlight the existence of arrests warrants against populations opposed to the Interoceanic Train” in reference to the persecution against member of the Binizaá community of Puente Madera, in Oaxaca.

In Chiapas, there are the cases of Cesar Hernández and José Luis Gutiérrez, Tseltal human rights defenders criminalized for opposing the imposition of a National Guard barracks in their territory. Also, the case of five Tseltal human rights defenders of San Juan Cancúc, who were sentenced to 25 years in prison for defending their territory against megaprojects like the “highway of cultures.”

“The fabrication of crimes against Indigenous organizers represents a selective strategy of the current federal government, seeking to cause an inhibiting effect on the communities and people who defend their rights, highlighting that most of them are directed against Indigenous land defenders,” says Frayba.

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