Chiapas. Mexico. Transferring prisoners is another way of repressing the struggle for those wrongfully imprisoned.
Marcelino Ruiz Gómez is wrongfully imprisoned in CERSS No. 10 in the city of Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas, Mexico and has been fighting for his freedom for 19 years against his arbitrary detention, torture and serious violations of due process of law. The Tsotsil indigenous man is founder of the Vineketik Organization in Resistance and adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the EZLN.
Marcelino is originally from the municipality of San Juan Chamula; he and his family cultivated vegetables on their land and sold them in the San Cristóbal de Las Casas market. On February 5, 2002, he was arbitrarily arrested and tortured.
After several years in prison, Marcelino became aware of the discrimination and violence suffered by indigenous people inside the prisons: “by police, guards, administrative staff and all court personnel, from the judge to those who make copies of criminal files based on illicit evidence,” said the Sexta adherent.
For this reason, Marcelino decided in 2015 to assert his human rights and speak out; he demanded the director of the CERSS of San Cristobal de Las Casas to improve the deteriorating conditions under which the inmates were kept: poor food, unsanitary cells, lack of adequate medical, psychological and dental health services. Not only did the director not listen to his request but retaliated by transferring him to CERSS No. 12 in the municipality of Yajalón, Chiapas. It was there where he staged two hunger strikes to demand his immediate transfer and to be closer to his family. The first strike lasted three days and two months passed without response. The second strike lasted eight days: “with the support of Frayba (Fray Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights) and other collectives, I achieved my transfer closer to home. I was transferred to CERSS No. 10, here in Comitán in April 7, 2015,” recalls the indigenous Chiapaneco.
Marcelino has been taken away from his family and children as a means of repression for protesting. His mother has found it difficult to make long trips to visit him, in addition she is a widow and lacks resources. “The effects on prison aren’t only on me but also on my family. Due to the lack of access to justice, they suffer with me every moment of repression. They feel scared and terrified. It is clear to us that the real criminals are in power and they make laws the way they want and the jails are full of indigenous people,” Ruíz Gómez denounces.
“Inside the prison I have learned many skills: I weave hammocks, bags and wooden crafts so i can support my family. Now I’m drawing, which is something that allows me to feel free and gives me strength to keep fighting,” says Marcelino, who on April 1 launched a virtual graphic exhibition called “For Life and Freedom”.
On March 15, 2019, the indigenous Tsotsil founded the Vineketik Organization in Resistance to fight for his freedom and to highlight the serious human rights violations within the criminal proceedings carried out with the use of torture. “We are innocent, we are paying for a crime we did not commit and we demand our freedom from the government,” he reported.
“They serve us very little and rotten food, which are strategies to intimidate me to stop resisting and fighting. You need everyone’s support to fight, otherwise the repression increases. Thanks to the support of collectives, Frayba and the media, my voice has been heard all over,” Marcelino said.