Letters were delivered to Mexican embassies and consulates throughout the world yesterday in support of an indigenous Tzotzil teacher and prisoner of conscience, Alberto Patishtán Gómez, from Chiapas, Mexico. He has now been imprisoned for twelve years for a crime it has been proven he could not have committed, but numerous appeals have been turned down or ignored, and the many national and international organisations involved in his defence believe this is their final hope for his release.
On Wednesday 26th September, a Motion for the Recognition of Innocence is being presented before the Judges of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Mexican Nation, in favour of Alberto. The need for this is desperate, as it has just been identified by his doctors that Alberto has lost 90% of his vision, due to medical neglect while in prison. The letter, which is to be delivered by hand to the Mexican ambassador in London this afternoon, asks the ambassador to urgently forward a letter to each of the Justices of the Court requesting they accept the motion. The letter is also being sent by post, fax and email.
The request for this international action has come from Alberto himself, in a letter written for him by a fellow prisoner in Penitentiary no 5 in San Cristόbal de las Casas, where he is currently serving his sixty year sentence. In the letter, he urges his supporters to “keep on struggling for truth and justice”.
Alberto’s case has become emblematic in Mexico, where the newspaper La Jornada has characterized him as "the most important prisoner of conscience in the country". His human rights activism in prison has led to the founding of two groups representing political prisoners, and the whole of his small community, el Bosque, is behind him. Recently 2,500 members of this community marched through the streets demanding his release. They know that he was elsewhere at the time the crime, the ambush of a police convoy, took place, and they also know why he was falsely accused of this crime. Alberto was one of the signatories to a document demanding the removal of the very unpopular municipal president; this president’s son was the only witness testifying to Albert’s guilt. The son later admitted he had been lying on the instructions of his father, in return for the gift of a pickup truck.
Letters from around the UK were delivered today, including ones groups from Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, London and Bournemouth. Esther MacDonald of the UK Chiapas Support Network said today, “in cities from Bilbao to Montreal, New York to Japan, and London and Paris to Argentina, as well as throughout Mexico, people are calling for truth and justice to prevail, for Alberto’s innocence to be recognised, and for him to be free to return to his family and community who are waiting for him with love. It is has now been revealed that his blindness results from a totally untreated brain tumour; if there is any justice in the world, he will surely be freed”.