This article has been written as part of the worldwide campaign to free 2 political prisoners in Chiapas. Alberto Patishtan is a member of the Other Campaign. Francisco Santiz Lopez is a Zapatista support base.
In mid April 2000, a group of people in the municipality of El Bosque, mostly representatives of the Social Solidarity Society (SSS) began to organize to denounce the misuse of resources, murder with impunity, abuse of authority, sexual harassment against women by municipal authorities, and lack of attention to the needs of the population, among others.
Emilio Lopez and Alberto Patishtán stand out from this group of people; the first for being the convener of the declaration, the second for actively participating in preparing the documents to raise awareness of what was happening in the Tsotsil community.
It was obvious that they were denouncing that the "structure" was failing the people, that the "authorities" were not doing their job, and they therefore demanded the dismissal of the main authority, the municipal president, Manuel Gomez Ruiz. Alberto Patishtán, in his autobiography, says that before starting their complaints they called on Manuel Gomez to talk with the people, but his only reply was insults against Alberto, calling him a "community agitator".
On 30 May of the same year they sent to the then acting governor, Roberto Albores Guillén, a document entitled: WE CALL FOR THE TOTAL REMOVAL OF THE TOWN COUNCIL AND A GENERAL AUDIT. In this document they wrote "The ejidal commissioners of the common lands and representatives of social organizations of this Municipal headquarters... would like to call on your Government to give us justice, we also send you a plea of petition with the complaints and objections of the undersigned against C. MANUEL GÓMEZ RUIZ ..."
On June 12, thirteen days after sending the document, an ambush took place near the community of Las Limas, located on the section of the road between El Bosque and Simojovel. The ambush happened at approximately 11:00 am, against 7 sectorial police, a local police commander from El Bosque and the driver for the council of that municipality. 6 of the 7 policemen and the local police commander were killed. The driver and one policeman survived, although seriously injured.
Alberto Patishtán tells us in his autobiography that after completing his work and attending meetings in Huitiupan, he went to Simojovel de Allende to enjoy some of the feast of St. Anthony, patron of the municipality. There he met with the chief authorities of El Bosque for that year: Ramón Gómez and Manuel Navarro. They told him "that some men had been killed on the stretch of highway at Las Limas ..."
Around 2:00 pm, Alberto went to El Bosque. Later he called a meeting of his organized compañeros who were denouncing the Council "in order to suspend all oral and written activity concerning the dismissal of the Council." They knew that what happened was a tragedy, and even more so for the mayor, for those ambushed were not only public servants, but also his son ROSEMBERG GÓMEZ PÉREZ, Council driver.
Alberto mentioned that after leaving the meeting, one of the chief authorities approached him to say desperately, "you urgently need to seek refuge with my entourage". It appears the mayor was trying to take revenge for his attempted dismissal, and had pointed them out as the perpetrators of the ambush.
What happened next has been reported often: Alberto Patishtán was kidnapped by members of the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) on June 19 at 9:30 am, approximately, while waiting for a bus in the public market in El Bosque to go to work.
We also know that he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder, robbery, carrying firearms, assault, etc., using as evidence only the false statements of Rosemberg Gomez Perez, two sports graphics designed with the participation of his students at a meeting of regional Hostels, submitted by the PGR as “shooting parapets”, and "shooting expert studies" conducted 7 days after the ambush "resulting positive."
Much is already known of the contribution of Alberto Patishtán to the fight for justice from within the prisons, all who knew him know he is innocent and deserves to be outside the prisons, with his people, his community, his brothers still standing to fight in El Bosque. Some say that history repeats itself, but on 10 June 2012, the people again spoke against the municipal authorities. The reality is that the story continues, the struggle continues.
However, little is known about the beginning of the struggle for his liberation, neither is it known about the agreement that the group of fighters in this town made the day before Alberto’s arrest. On 18 June 2000, after learning that the mayor was seeking revenge against them, they signed an agreement at 3:00 pm where all "... who are present at this meeting” committed “together to stand in the moral and physical defence of their people and [against] any others that may face all the representatives, who to complete this matter we state that we would be willing to support in any situation ... "
Alberto Patishtán is not only an example of struggle, he is also an example of the unity, the anger, and the love that indigenous peoples have between each other, and which have now infected the whole world, or perhaps it is the discovery of the different forms of love there are, for life, for justice, freedom, peace. Many people are today demanding his prompt release in the way that Albert has been doing, by struggling.
To demand the liberation of Alberto Patishtán is not just a matter of solidarity, but is part of building a better world. It is not unreasonable to think that the arrest and detention of Albert Patishtán is part of the contra-insurgency war of the Mexican State. The geographical area in which his people are located also suggests this, as does the political situation when it happened. Those who work to build awareness and autonomy are the enemies of the state.
Information taken from: albertopatishtan.blogspot.mx and the internal files of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Alberto Patishtán (Movimiento del Pueblo por la Liberación de Alberto Patishtán).
International Zapatista Translation Service