Below we publish three statements in relation to the case of anarchist political prisoner Miguel Peralta Betanzos: one from his friends and family, one from Miguel himself, and one from his lawyers.
We Don’t Beg For Freedom, Let’s Tear Miguel From the Clutches of the State
For three years and nine months our compañero Miguel Peralta has been kidnapped by the state, held captive behind concrete walls and barbed wire fences. For three years and nine months he has had to endure the monotony of prison life, isolated from friends and family, eating the slop that passes as food, waiting in limbo while circus courts, judges and political authorities play games with his future and his freedom.
A new governmental administration has arrived, a new party, a new political slogan, and a new set of promises: “…there will be no more reprisals against anyone, no repressing anyone nor incarcerating anyone”. “We will free political prisoners of caciques, authorities or rulers of the old authoritarian regime and cancel accusations against activists and social fighters”. The underlying message: sit tight, be patient, the new administration will free your prisoners. There is no need for political resistance or fighting in the streets.
We know this strategy all to well, of demobilization, waiting for their “good faith”, and we aren’t buying it. We do not believe in their forms nor do we want to engage in them. Governmental power is based in oppression and exploitation. It goes hand in hand with vain tricks and promises, legal and demagogic. We will continue with the process of appealing the 50-year sentence of our compañero. We will continue with social mobilizations and strengthening solidarity. Those are our weapons. We know our compañero is innocent. We know the historical role of leftist governments, to pacify the resistance, to legitimize illegitimate institutions, to play us as fools.
The new López Obrador administration is no different than the political party and cacique interests that got Eloxochitlán into this mess in the first place: make false promises to garner votes, divide the community, pit friends and family against one another, eliminate any movement toward community self-determination and autonomy, concentrate power into the hands of the state.
If the freedom of our compañero comes from governmental decree, we will not swallow the pill by believing in their “good faith”. We know his freedom will be the product of social mobilization and solidarity. We aren’t going to sit by idly, seeking not to push the wrong buttons, begging for forgiveness, hoping that the moral force of the new administration brings justice to the situation. We are aware that this supposed “change” seeks to leave everything the same, not to minimally question the structure of the capitalist state that promotes exploitation, the plundering of natural resources, the devastation of territories and legalized militarization.
Even if they “cede” freedom to the compañerxs of Eloxothitlán de Flores Magón, they will return to their homes and community to encounter caciques with more political power. They will leave prison just to enter a larger one in their community. The conflict in Eloxochitlán unfortunately will not end from the command of political power because it is political power itself that created and maintains the conflict. The state wants to be seen as acknowledging unjust abuses, dispossessions and imprisonments. Meanwhile, it demands that those engaged in social struggle ask for forgiveness.
López Obrador, Nestora Salgado, Manuel and Elisa Zepeda, you are all the same to us: opportunistic politicians, serving self and state interests against those of community struggles. Political leaders come and go, but our commitment remains the same. Freedom to Miguel Peralta Betanzos! Freedom to the political prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón! Freedom to all political prisoners! Down with the prison walls and carceral society!
We call on all of our compañerxs dedicated to autonomy and self-determination, to the struggle outside of political parties and hierarchical state politics, to join us in this resistance. To our compañerxs in Oaxaca, we need you the most, as the pending appeal will take place in the court in your state. To our compañerxs from other geographies, we ask that you maintain attentive to the case, to any calls put forth for mobilizations. Most importantly, we ask that you act in solidarity according to your capabilities and desires. The freedom of our compañero will be achieved in the streets. That is where you will find us.
Friends and Family of Miguel Peralta
Los Otros Abogadoz
Position of our compañero Miguel Peralta
It has been three months since I was sentenced to 50 years in prison by the nefarious judge, Juan León Montiel, of the district court of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca. Last week we received the appeal case number 08/2019, filed in the Third Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Oaxaca. However, the court has not agreed to a date for the “celebration” of the hearing, because of errors committed in the presentation of the appeal pleadings. The original case number 02/2015 was sent incomplete to the court, as “it was necessary” for Judge Juan León to notify Elisa and Manuel Zepeda of the sentence. These very people are the ones pulling the strings of the legal system like a puppet to maintain our imprisonment.
I am fully aware that our imprisonment and isolation are part of the actions, omissions, political and legal ruses that have been intentionally executed by the representatives of “justice”. This has been done through the puppets that work in the Supreme Court and the Mixed District Court at the instruction and desire of the Head of the Commission of Justice of the Local Congress of Oaxaca to keep us cut off from our community. That is to say, the Local Representative for Morena, Elisa Zepeda Lagunas, is directing this theater. She has not stopped lying to the media with paid-for notes in newspapers like the Imparcial of Oaxaca, Noticias Voz e imagen of Oaxaca, El Universal, Milenio and so many others. With sensationalist words and without a true journalistic investigation, they lend themselves to continue covering up this lie and sustaining the farce of a supposed defender of human rights who has done nothing more than enrich herself and take power. It is thought that the political class is only constituted in urban and semi-urban social spaces, where they can easily slip away into the crowd, but it is not like that. In the small towns, the political class also reproduces itself with the same purpose: seizing territories, imposing governments and always working against self-determination.
It is also true that these tactics of manipulation and farce not only take place at the municipal and state level, but also include any institution organized outside of direct community representation. Through symbolic acts, the recreation of the past, demagogic exaggeration and virtual montage, the incoming government seeks to give itself a good image from its stage. Meanwhile, they fortify militarization in the country, maintaining the military in the streets so they can carry out supposed tasks of “security”. The megaprojects have already been approved despite the environmental impact studies and the rejection from the communities, even if they carry out theatrical consultations that have no other end than to legitimate these projects. Thus, the historic plunder of natural resources will continue, as well as the intellectual appropriation of ancestral knowledge, and the production of toxic wastes that put the lives of the people at risk, causing their displacement.
The international treaties and recommendations are passed through the “arch of triumph.” What is important is that the business sector is at ease. The defense of life, territory, water and our forms of organization are and will continue to be criminalized by whatever type of government that imposes its arrangements seeking to silence us with violence and the use of judicial power. In the new government we do not see clarity either, much less the willingness to free the compañerxs that are incarcerated for defending all of this. The case of the compañerxs of Tlanixco is a prime example. They have already been in state prisons for more than ten years, and they recently have had their trial reinstated, delaying once again their exit from prison. Also the case of another compañero, Luis Fernando Sotelo, who was recently negated his freedom once again. How can they expect us to not doubt the government and its words, if their actions show us that they will continue trampling on the communities, collectives and the people that resist?
It doesn’t seem just to me that our name is utilized, serving to bolster their political capital. Our imprisonment is the result of us defending our territories, community organization and self-determination. As prisoners, we share the fabrication of crimes that in the majority are structured in the same way, since they were invented by the state, powerful individuals or transnational businesses. Recently, the new government has made reference to the possible freedom for political prisoners through an amnesty law or something like that, something they have neither legislated nor approved. Meanwhile, we continue confronting the deficiencies and negligence of the legal system. Each day we fight battles against the penitentiary system that tries to dehumanize us. We reinvent and reconstruct our identity because the free development of our personality is impossible. We are forced to consume the “food” that they impose on us. They force us to buy uniforms that we abhor. We struggle against the enslavement of our labor. There are consequences of isolation, the limitation of all that pleases us. Looking for a piece of pineapple is a crime only because it can ferment. The jail exhausts us, but in spite of it all, we breathe, we imagine and we continue in struggle. Although the color of the prison depresses us, we continue to resist the limitations of us sharing and being with our family, friends and partners. The conflicts that the prison generates in us, the indifferences and lack of communication for making decisions related to our confinement. The state neither comes nor goes. They try to make us believe that they will resolve our affairs, that is it not necessary to criticize and much less to mobilize. The most isolated and least mobilized are more convenient for them, making it much easier to divide and bring us down.
But we will never be silent. With our words and actions, we will continue until we break down these walls. We think that the passivity of the people will not lead us on a good path and that resistance is the only proposal. Finally, no individual or people can be deprived of their means of cultural, social, economic and political resistance. The struggle of the people is not respected. There continues to be criminalization against those of us who fight, which makes clear that the willingness of the fourth transformation mentioned above, does not exist. Power only changes command, color, characters, but not its forms nor substance. Although in front of us we have a group of powerful enemies, due to the political and business positions that they hold, backed by state institutions, the solidarity and battles that we will wage will be even stronger, carried out in the streets. They will not be negotiated nor will we ever beg for our freedom because we have the strength to fight for it in each act of the day and every instant of our lives. We are conscious that the crimes that keep us imprisoned were fabricated.
We will continue demanding and struggling so that the legal process isn’t delayed any longer. We will continue denouncing the irregularities and obstacles that they put in front of us in each step that we take. We call for the solidarity to continue, acting together in the struggle against the prison system. Nothing will stop us until we snatch from them our freedom!
Miguel Peralta from the prison of Cuicatlán
Regarding the Appeal Process
With this statement, we report that there has been little progress in the appeal process in the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Oaxaca. As you are aware, on October 26th, 2018, Judge Juan León Montiel of the Mixed District Court of Huautla de Jiménez, dictated a sentence against our compañero Miguel Peralta. In response, on Monday, October 29th, the legal defense team went to the courthouse to be personally notified of the resolution and to formally present the appeal document and the appointment of lawyers before the higher court of appeals. However, it wasn’t until November 22nd, 2018, that the judge of Huautla formally accepted the documents presented.
On December 11th, 2018, the court sent the six volumes of the file to the Supreme Court of the State of Oaxaca—the court in charge of resolving the appeal. Then, on January 4th of this year, the corresponding criminal court formally received the file and sent it to the Third Criminal Chamber of the said Supreme Court.
Finally, on January 22nd, the Third Criminal Chamber emitted an agreement in the case number 08/2019, stating that it had received the file sent by the district court. However, the Third Criminal Chamber refrained from moving forward at that moment, because upon reviewing the file it was realized that Judge Juan León Montiel failed to personally notify ELISA ZEPEDA and MANUEL ZEPEDA of “the duration that the law grants them to appeal the sentence, and did not require them to provide an address to hear and receive notifications in Oaxaca City.”
In sum, the Third Criminal Chamber, “safeguarding the rights of the offended”, ordered the return of the file to the court of Huautla. Within three days, counting from the legal notification, the court must personally notify the said people of their right and the duration that the law grants them to appeal. After this has occurred, it will send back the file to the Criminal Court for the continuation of the appeal process.
In view of the foregoing, it is important to point out that once again the judge of Huautla, Juan León Montiel, continues managing the conflict, delaying and obstructing the freedom of our compañero. It is clear that with all intention, he omitted to personally notify the caciques, Elisa Zepeda and Manuel Zepeda, of the duration they had to appeal the 50-year-sentence which benefits their political and economic interests in the first place. That is to say, despite the sentence being dictated as they wanted, they were once again given the opportunity to disagree and appeal the resolution, regardless of the fact that the public prosecutor linked to the court of Huautla (who represent them) was duly notified and had sufficient time to appeal the said resolution if it was considered not to be sufficient. However, he didn’t do so. Now the Criminal Chamber has granted them a new duration of time in which they may request that both the sentence and the reparation of damages be increased.
This attitude demonstrates again the omissions made, but above all, the partiality with which the cynical and corrupt judge, Juan León Montiel, has acted during nearly four years that he has delayed the legal process of Miguel.
Three months have already passed since the sentence was given against Miguel and now we ask ourselves, “How much more time we will have to wait so that the Third Criminal Chamber accepts the appeal that we presented and sets the hearing where we will present the legal arguments to bring down this disgrace disguised as “justice”?
Again, the corrupt judge has the legal file in his hands. It is probable that he will try to delay the process once again. With the notification and three working days that were given to him, he will try to convert that into three months to continue fulfilling the orders made by his bosses, the Zepeda Lagunas cacique family.
Once again, we have the opportunity to strengthen the call for solidarity with more force and courage, to tear the the freedom of our compañero Miguel Peralta from their clutches.
Los Otros Abogadoz