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Indigenous Prisoner in Struggle, Juan de la Cruz Ruiz, Released After Spending Over 12 Years in Prison

Below we publish two statements, translated from Spanish, following the release of Indigenous prisoner in struggle, Juan de la Cruz Ruiz. One comes from Juan himself, and another from the imprisoned Indigenous organizing groups, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia and La Voz Verdadera del Amate.

Originally published by Voices in Movement.

On March 15, 2019, six Indigenous prisoners in struggle began a hunger strike in three different prisons in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, demanding their immediate and absolute freedom. In the weeks that followed, other Indigenous prisoners in Chiapas joined the hunger strike. Others who weren’t capable of hunger striking due to health or prison conditions, supported the strike with their solidarity from the inside. The strike lasted for more than 130 days bringing direct attention to the racist-colonial legal system in Mexico which fills its prisons with Indigenous peoples. The release of Juan de la Cruz Ruiz, on December 9, 2019, is just one success of the hunger strike and the ongoing organizing efforts of various Indigenous prisoners in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.

Statement from Juan de la Cruz Ruiz Following his Release

San Cristóbal de las Casas

Brothers and sisters

To the Compañeras and Compañeros of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba)

To the Working Group No Estamos Todxs

To the Compañerxs of SWEFORD and SIPAZ

To the State, National and International Media

To the Public Who Accompany Us This Morning

I want to thank each one of you for always being attentive to our struggle, specifically the struggle we began on March 15 of this year with a hunger strike for a just and dignified cause. I am a member of the organization, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia, adherent of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

My name is Juan de la Cruz Ruiz. This is my word and this is my case:

More than twelve years ago, I remember the date well, on February 28, 2007, approximately fifteen state agents arrived at my house, interrogating me: “Are you Juan?” At that moment, they grabbed my arm, without presenting any arrest warrant. I was tortured for two days and two nights. I am a survivor of torture. The prosecutor’s office used torture to attain false testimony. They ordered my imprisonment. After two years of my legal process, in spite of having presented witnesses and evidence of my innocence, they sentenced me to eleven years in prison for homicide. Afterwards, they forced me to submit an appeal. Three months later, as a result of the appeal, they added fourteen years to my sentence. I was destroyed. My sentence had accumulated to twenty-five years. In 2008, they fabricated the crime of extorsion against me while I was in prison. With that pretext, they gave me five more years in prison, making my sentence a total of thirty years. These were crimes that I never committed in my life. In my first declaration, I was not provided with a translator. My rights have been violated on various occasions during my legal process.

Since the day of my arrest, my life has been cut short. They destroyed my dreams, my future plans. They separated me from my family. They destroyed our lives. They caused serious damage, taking me from my three children. I never saw them grow up and I could never enjoy them. I could never give them the love and affection of a father.

We organize ourselves inside of the prisons against these injustices, to raise our voices and struggle to recuperate our rights, and ultimately our freedom which they took from us. They destroyed our lives.

As Indigenous people, we are victims of abuse, mistreatment and discrimination. We are ignored by the bad governments. For this reason, on March 15 of this year, we began an indefinite hunger strike demanding justice and our freedom. In our files there are many anomalies, as well as torture. To this day, we have flashbacks of the torture of which we were submitted.

I want to mention the case of the compañero, Adrián Gómez Jiménez, a member of the organization, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia. Adrián was in prison for nearly fifteen years without a sentence. This past February 22, they sentenced him to twenty years in prison. There was never any evidence against him. He has been in prison for fifteen years and seven months. In November of this year, he took advantage of an offer from the Judge, M. Guadalupe Flores Rocha, presenting her all with all the documents and requirements of which she demanded. To this date there has been no response. She has already surpassed the deadline by two months.

We were on a hunger strike for more than 130 days. We were hospitalized with different illnesses caused by the strike: urinary tract infections, stomach pain, salmonellosis, gastrointestinal cramps, kidney and liver damage, among other things. Doctors of the World told us that at any moment, our bodies could collapse. Thus, on July 28, we transitioned our struggle into a protest encampment inside the prison, and a daily fast from 12:00-5:00. We have maintained this encampment and continued on this fast schedule for almost five months.

I also want to mention the cases of the compañeros of the organization, La Voz Verdadera del Amate, Germán López Montejo and Abrahám López Montejo. On August 20 of this year, they were sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Two days afterwards, they were given fifty more years in prison, making their sentence a total of seventy-five years in prison. As for the truth, there are many anomalies in their files. Regardless, the state took revenge.

They will continue and we will continue our struggle, as will comrade Marcelino Ruíz Gómez, member of the organization, Viniketic en Resistencia. Marcelino was promised his freedom by the judge M. Guadalupe Flores Rocha, and to this day that word has not been fulfilled.

And the worst of all, in my case, three years and ten months passed by after I was set to be released. In 2011, I solicited my sentence to be suspended, from Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, as he was the president of the Reconciliation Table. I was granted my freedom on February 12, 2016. I was held for three years and ten months after that.

Finally, I want to thank everyone, with all my heart, who gave their full support for us, who were always attentive to our situation and the prisoners that showed their solidarity with us and with our struggle and the organizations that supported us and the whole world that joined in our struggle.

To my family, who you all are also part of. And today, more than ever, I ask that you continue supporting us to continue with our struggle in demand of justice. Today, I am with you in what remains to be done.

Many thanks.

Communique from the organizations, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia and La Voz Verdadera del Amate, adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the EZLN, Imprisoned in CERESO NO. 5 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

To the Public

To the CIG Networks of Support

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the National and International Sixth

To the Mass and Alternative Media

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity

To the Non-governmental Defenders of Human Rights

To the Independent Organizations

To the Indigenous People of Mexico and the World

To the Civil Society of Mexico and the World

To the compañer@s who have followed our struggle from outside of these four prison walls

We send an affectionate combative salute from our prison, CERESO No. 5, our trench of struggle against the injustices that we live as prisoners and against injustice in general.

Today, December 9, 2019, our compañero in struggle, Juan de la Cruz Ruiz, member of the organization, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia, achieved his freedom at around 1:00 pm. The state had held him kidnapped for more than three years after he was granted his freedom in 2016—the result of a reconciliation process. With that we can see clearly the injustice that our compañero Juan de la Cruiz Ruiz has faced. Furthermore, he is a survivor of torture administered by the public prosecutor’s office. Together with judicial agents, they are responsible for the injustice that the prisoners suffer. That is to say, functionaries of the bad government of the state of Chiapas.

We, as Indigenous people, are among the most vulnerable and marginalized by the authorities. We do not speak Spanish well and we do not know how to defend ourselves before the ridiculous laws of this country. Thanks to the struggle that we began on July 6, 2018, when the organization, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia, was born with the goal of defending the imprisoned population and fighting for our freedom that the state has stolen from us; thanks to the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, to SIPAZ, to SWEFOR, to the Working Group No Estamos Todxs; thanks to all of them. They have helped us politically. And of course, thanks to all of the other organizations, our compañero Juan de la Cruz Ruiz is today enjoying his freedom. The bad government had him kidnapped for more than twelve years, unjustly imprisoned for a crime that he never committed. We also want to emphasize that it was thanks to the hunger strike that we began this past March 15, which lasted for more than 130 days, where many of us were sent to the hospital. We have seen that the current government is the worst. Those who are governing the supposed fourth transformation, they are not interested in justice for the prisoners.

That is why the organizations, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia and La Voz Verdadera del Amate, demand the freedom of Adrián Gómez Jiménez, Germán López Montejo, Abraham López Montejo and Adrián Gómez Jiménez. We await a quick resolution from the judge, M. Guadalupe Flores Rocha.

Germán López Montejo and Abrahám López Montejo do not have evidence against them. The “offended” never presented evidence, yet a sentence was dictated against them. Instead of their release, a sentence of seventy-five years for two legal files of alleged homicide. The judge of the district of Bochil, Julio César Victoria Gómez, unjustly sentenced them. The struggle continues until we are all free. No walls nor bars will ever stop us. No power nor death has ever intimidated us. Our struggle is dignified. Nothing in this world will force our thoughts and our spirit to remain silent. Our words will never be detained.

Lastly, we invite all the national and international independent organizations and the human rights defenders to continue demanding true justice. Uniting our voices and forces, the Mexican people will triumph true justice.

From CERESO No. 5, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia and La Voz Verdadera del Amate

We send a combative salute to the independent organizations of Mexico and the world that are struggling against the bad government.

Never more will prisoners be ignored. Justice for political prisoners.

Adrián Gómez Jiménez, member of the organization, La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia

Germán López Montejo and Abrahám López Montejo, members of the organization, La Voz Verdadera del Amate


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