Statement from the Indigenous Community of Nahuatzen Against Recent State Repression (Michoacán, Mexico)

This communiqué comes from the Indigenous community of Nahuatzen, denouncing the latest acts of repression carried out by the Michoacán police on March 26th, 2019. Four compañeros were detained after a peaceful demonstration in support of three other compañeros of the community council that have been imprisoned since November of 2018. Nahuatzen is one of various Indigenous P’urhépecha communities in the state of Michoacán that are self-organizing their community for autonomy around a citizen council, outside the political party model of the state. The original in Spanish was published on the National Indigenous Congress website and can be found here.

To the National and International Media

To the People of Mexico

We address you all with anger due to the events that took place today, March 26th, 2019, in Michoacán.

We denounce the repression against our community, with the unjust detention of our four compañeros of our Indigenous community of Nahuatzen. At approximately 10:30 am, Arnulfo Espino Capiz (58 years old), José Eduardo Jiménez Rodríguez (18 years old), Osvaldo Beltrán Avilés (22 years old) and José Rentería Espino (17 years old) were detained. They were arrested while carrying out a peaceful protest in support of our three imprisoned compañeros of Nahuatzen. The acts took place in front of the Pemex located on Industrial Boulevard No. 4299 in Uruapan, Michoacán at the exit for the 21st century highway Uruapan-Morelia. Elements of the Michoacán police arrested them at approximately 10:30 am. Up to around 2:15 pm of March 26th, 2019, they had not been located. A commission visited the Regional Prosecutor’s office of Uruapan (commonly called Yunuen), the state police facilities and the PGR, which are all located in Uruapan, Michoacán. These same offices did not give any information regarding their detention or whereabouts. For this reason, we went to the representative of human rights of Uruapan in order to file a report for the violation of the human rights of our compañeros.

At the same time, we inform you all that today’s peaceful demonstration was an act of support for our compañeros of the Indigenous community of Nahuatzen, who were detained on another occasion and filed with the legal case number 182/2018.

The three compañeros have been held in the prison of Eduardo Ruiz in Uruapan, Michoacán, and since last week have been in isolation cells. They were punished for the peaceful demonstrations of their family members, community, and people, in support of their cause. This punishment is arbitrary and intolerable, since they are innocent of the charges that have been brought against them.

José Gerardo Talavera Pineda (40 years old) was arrested on November 11, 2018, in the city of Morelia. He is considered by the authorities to be the leader of the community movement, and the principal suspect. He is just a citizen of the community. He was violently detained, and beaten during his transfer to the prison. He was transferred to the district attorney’s office of Morelia. He was there for approximately one hour, and later transferred to the Eduardo Ruiz prison in Uruapan, Michoacán. It is unknown if he signed any statements, if any competent authorities read him his rights and let me know why he was arrested, or if he had access to a lawyer.

José Luis Jiménez Meza (41 years old) was detained on November 12th, 2018, in the community of Nahuatzen. He is part of the public sanitation commission in the community. He was detained and treated with violence during his transfer to the prosecutor’s office and afterwards during his transfer to the prison. He was assaulted and beaten with arrogance by the police. He was taken to the regional prosecutor’s office in Uruapan and presented there at approximately 3:00 pm. He was read a document informing him of his supposed crimes. It is unknown whether he signed any statement, whether any competent authority read him his rights, or whether he had access to a lawyer. He was later transferred to the Eduardo Ruiz prison of Uruapan.

José Antonio Arreola Jiménez (40 years old) was detained in his home in the community of Nahuatzen. He was responsible for the security of the community. The authorities entered his home without a warrant, without even knocking or waiting for him to open the door. Rather, they broke in violently, threatening and scaring his small children and wife. They violently beat his 15-year-old son, since he resisted the arrest of his father. It is worth mentioning that José was sleeping with very little clothing. He was violently detained and not allowed to dress himself, leaving his children and wife in shock from the traumatic experience. Once he was detained, a convoy of three or four vans of police agents took him away. In route to the regional prosecutor’s office in Uruapan, they stopped at the Paracho sandbank, where he was taken from the vehicle and severely beaten, and threatened with death. They once again threw him into the vehicle, arriving at the prosecutor’s office at approximately 8:00 am. There he was beaten again. He spent the night in the prosecutor’s office, and the next day was transferred to the Eduardo Ruiz prison of Uruapan.

The four arrested today March 26th, 2019, were eventually located in the city of Morelia at approximately 6:10 pm. They were released and handed over to a community authority of the Indigenous Citizen Council of Nahuatzen.

We want to make it clear that in our country it has become normalize to practice a politics of harassment and repression, for the simple act of organizing one’s community and raising one’s voice.

We denounce the governor of Michoacán. He was elected to look over the state of Michoacán and not to exercise repression against our people. We demand that our imprisoned compañeros are immediately released.

Freedom to the political prisoners of the community of Nahuatzen!

If they touch one of us, they touch us all!

United Indigenous Community of Nahuatzen!

Family members and friends of the prisoners in struggle!