Editor’s Note: Below we publish a press release from the friends and family of the political prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón announcing the hunger strike of Miguel Peralta in the face of the ongoing irregularities and delays in his legal case. We also publish a short poem from Miguel to mark the beginning of his hunger strike.
October 19th, 2018
To the Media:
We want to announce that today, Miguel Angel Peralta Betanzos, political prisoner of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, being processed under the case number 02/2015, has decided to begin a hunger strike, so that the judge of the Mixed District Court of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, dictates his acquittal. He, together with 33 more, have been falsely accused by the now representative-elect of MORENA in Oaxaca, Elisa Zepeda Lagunas.
Miguel Peralta is one of the seven political prisoners of the Community Assembly of Eloxochitlán who remain in prison. Since 2014, the Zepeda Lagunas family, utilizing their economic and political power, have manipulated the legal process of the case 02/2015 taking place in the Mixed District Court of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca. With this, they have drawn out in multiple ways the “due process”, in addition to causing the forced displacement of more than 20 families from the community.
Our compañero has been in prison for nearly four years, having to endure a legal process plagued with irregularities and violations of local, national and international norms. The legal terms that are clearly stated in these local, national and international norms, have not been respected by the court. As such, to this date, he remains in complete legal uncertainty. His detention has been extended and various rights of his have been violated including the obstruction of an adequate defense, the presumption of innocence and access to prompt and expeditious justice.
It is important to note that, in the criminal case 02/2015, legal decisions have been emitted by the First Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of Oaxaca, District Judges and also of the same Court of Huautla, through which eight others accused for the same acts were given their freedom. Furthermore, they have canceled more than 18 arrest warrants, stating that the only evidence that exists—that is the testimonies of the 8 witnesses—are generic, contradictory and implausible. It is evidence that lacks probative value, for which the responsibility of our compañeros in the supposed crimes is not fully proven.
Specifically, on September 28th, 2018, nine months after the defense team of Miguel Peralta requested the closing of his case (to force the end of the interrogation of two witnesses, since, for almost three years, they didn’t appear before the court), his final hearing was held. It is important to mention that this legal stage should not take more than two months. However, in spite of the fact that the courts cannot, under any pretext, postpone, delay, omit or deny resolutions, according to article 130 of the Code of Criminal Procedures of Oaxaca, it took almost a year.
In consequence, from that date, the time to dictate a decision began. The hearing was carried out without the presence of Miguel Ángel, since the court clerk Jesús Reynaldo Canseco, in an arbitrary and negligent manner, didn’t do the necessary paperwork to request Miguel’s transfer to the court house from the director of the prison of Cuicatlán, Oaxaca. In this way, his right to be present at his hearing was violated, despite having solicited this since the beginning of his legal process and it being stipulated in the constitution. Regardless, with the defense team not agreeing to let the hearing be delayed any more, it was carried out. Finally, the judge Juan León Montiel, committed to give a resolution after 15 business days from September 28th, which ends on October 22nd. Thus, Miguel has initiated a hunger strike until the resolution is dictated, and his absolute and immediate freedom is decided.
Therefore, we demand that Judge Juan León Montiel impartially and objectively fulfill his job, that the resolution not be delayed and that Miguel Peralta be freed, so that his health is not further affected. The crimes for which they have maintained him prisoner (as well as the other detainees of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón), are fabricated and do not have any legal substance. They are nothing more than the lies and the ambition of the cacique Zepeda Lagunas family, among them, those who serve as complainants: Elisa Zepeda Lagunas, municipal president and now local representative of MORENA, and her father Manuel Zepeda Cortés, ex-municipal president.
The Zepeda Lagunas cacique family has converted the struggle to maintain internal forms of organization of the community and the respect for self-determination into a legal conflict, snatching freedom away from of our compañeros for nearly four years and maintaining an environment of persecution. Criminal law must not serve as an instrument of social control, to resolve a social conflict that is evident in Eloxochitlán, In the Mazateco community of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, one does not live with peace, but lives with the imposition of repression, abuse of power and harassment beneath the control of Zepeda Lagunas.
For all this, we DEMAND:
- Quick resolution and the declaration of freedom for Miguel Ángel Peralta Betanzos!
- Freedom to the seven prisoners of the Community Assembly of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón: Herminio Monfil, Fernando Gavito, Omar Morales, Miguel Peralta, Jaime Betanzos, Isaías Gallardo and Alfredo Bolaños!
- End the arrest warrants against members of the Community Assembly!
- Freedom to Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca!
Family and friends of the prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca
Poem from Miguel:
October 19th, 2018
Hunger for truth!
Strike for freedom!
I use my body as a tool of war.
My anti-bodies will be the weapon for this battle.
Solidarity as a rock, and water as the people’s shield,
Will flow through time purging the lies.
Today, without food, I will continue resisting until I overturn the false accusations.
The rage and fire, transgressing borders, will cover my spirit,
Giving it life.
We will not surrender until we recover our freedom.
Down with the prison walls