Mexico: EZLN supporter freed after year in jail

Francisco Sántiz López, a civilian supporter of Mexico's rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), was released from prison in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the highlands of the southeastern state of Chiapas, on Jan. 25, more than 13 months after his arrest. Over the past year a movement has formed in some 30 countries to demand the release of Sántiz López and another prisoner, the schoolteacher Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a supporter of the ELZN-initiated Other Campaign.

Sántiz López was arrested in December 2011 on charges of participating in violence that broke out in the indigenous Banavil community in Tenejapa municipality on Dec. 4 when a group connected to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) attacked EZLN supporters. Two people died in the violence, one from each side; witnesses denied that Sántiz López was involved. A judge acquitted him three months later, but prosecutors then charged him with illegal possession of a firearm. On Jan. 24 of this year Judge Jesús Hidalgo ruled that the authorities hadn't taken into account "all the existing evidence in favor of Sántiz López indicating that he hadn't taken part in the acts he was accused of." Hidalgo ordered the prisoner's release within 24 hours. "We're going to continue with the EZLN in the struggle," Sántiz López said as he left the prison. "We're going to win."

Patishtán Gómez remains in the prison, where he has been serving a 60-year sentence since 2000 for his alleged involvement in the killing of seven police agents in El Bosque municipality in June of that year. He says prison authorities are denying him medicine he requires following surgery for a brain tumor late in 2012. (La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 27.

Indigenous block roads in Chiapas

On Feb. 5, in observance of the 96th anniversary of the Mexican Constitution, approximately 450 Chol Maya adherents of the organization Laklumal Ixim (Our People of Maize) initiated a highway blockade on the Yajalón-Tila route to demonstrate that nearly two months into the administration of the new Chiapas state government, "the communities and peoples continue to experience abandonment, misery, and looting." The protesters also denounced the Mexican government's new "National Crusade Against Hunger" as "a farce that seeks merely to throw crumbs to our communities that experience poverty, while our natural resources are handed over to foreign firms for exploitation." (Intercontinental Cry, March 2; SIPAZ, Feb. 5)