Manuel Gómez Vázquez has been unjustly imprisoned for two years and five months. He belongs to the Mayan-Tzeltal people, speaks little Castilian, is 22 years old and is a peasant farmer. He was illegally detained on December 4, 2020 by an armed civilian group and community authorities. Manuel was tortured and treated cruelly. One day after his arrest, he was handed over to the Municipal Public Security Secretariat of Ocosingo, Chiapas, and to investigative police from the Indigenous Justice Prosecutor’s Office of the State Attorney General’s Office. It was not until December 9, five days after his illegal detention, that Manuel was handed over to a court. It is worth noting that at the time of Manuel’s arrest, the municipal president of Ocosingo, as well as the governor of the state of Chiapas, belonged to Morena.
Manuel is accused of a murder he did not commit. Between December 4 and 5, 2020, in the ejido El Censo, in the municipality of Ocosingo, where Manuel is from, violent events took place in which four people were murdered. The Indigenous Justice Prosecutor’s Office did not carry out a diligent and scientific investigation, charging Manuel, who at the time of the events was with his family at his home, with homicide, according to the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center.
Manuel has been imprisoned for two years and five months even though there is no evidence to accuse him. It has even been proven that evidence against him has been fabricated. There are also no autopsies of the homicide he is accused of, and the time for his trial has been extended to the liking of the prosecution. In addition, the Judicial Power of the state has not respected the fact that the preventive imprisonment cannot be longer than two years.
Manuel and his family are support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. His community is part of the network of communities that are organized in the autonomous Zapatista rebel municipality Ricardo Flores Magón, of caracol 9, Nuevo Jerusalén in honor of the memory of comrade Manuel. The good governmente board of this caracol is that of the rebellious thinking of the original peoples, in Zapatista Chiapas. Manuel and his family are part of an organization that has its own autonomous government, its own cooperatives, that has seized land from farmers and landowners, that has built its own schools and hospitals, that defends life and territory. In other words, Manuel and his family live in resistance and rebellion, and so far, everything points to the fact that this is the crime for which he is being held in prison.
The Good Government Council, to which Manuel’s community belongs, conducted its own investigation into the facts. With a long experience in the exercise of security and autonomous justice -well documented by Dr. Paulina Fernández Christlieb in her book Justicia autónoma zapatista. Zona Selva Tzeltal, the investigation concluded that Manuel is innocent, that the official authorities of the ejido El Censo are threatened with death by the real killers, and that the witnesses falsified their statements, but then told the truth: Manuel had nothing to do with the homicide. This and other stories that demonstrate the fabrication of evidence against the imprisoned Zapatista were reported on the web page of the National Indigenous Congress (https://bit.ly/44t8iWN).
Manuel is being criminalized for being a Zapatista; the fabrication of evidence and his unjust imprisonment and detention is because for the bad governments, being a Zapatista is a crime punishable by slander, persecution, jail and death, say the Zapatista authorities.
Manuel is one of several political prisoners in Mexico today. Along with his case there is also that of Fidencio Aldama, a member of the Yaqui tribe and imprisoned for opposing the construction of the gas pipeline in the traditional Yaqui territory of the town of Loma de Bácum.
Many say it is madness to resist the system, but in reality, it is madness not to resist it, wrote Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black panther who has been a political prisoner for 41 years and recognizes the contributions of the Zapatista struggle. Manuel Gómez Vázquez is one of those who resist the system, and his resistance is the reason he is in jail.
Manuel, the Zapatista imprisoned for struggling, that is, for being a Zapatista, should be released immediately.
Originally published on May 8th, 2023. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/05/08/opinion/014a2pol
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.