Their stories were given to La Jornada by their families and uncover the practice of torture and set ups in Chiapas. Ejido representatives say that they are innocent and consider them “political prisoners” because their families “are very involved in the ‘Otra Campaña.’”
Vázquez Deara has been in the Ocosingo prison since last September and Antonio Estrada has been in the Playas de Catazajá prison since August. Antonio says that on August 7 he was arrested near his home by five hooded agents “and a commander” (as identified by their radio communications). “They covered me with a shirt, handcuffed me, and put me in their paddy wagon, face down, hands behind my back. They asked me if I was the one who had been attacking people and punched me in the ribs. They threatened to shoot me in the head, roll me in a mat, and throw me into a landfill.”
On the way to Palenque, they continued to beat him. There he was handed over to “the court,” his hood was removed, “and they immediately slapped me so I wouldn’t see the person, after which they blindfolded me very hard.” He has a 5cm scar in his nasal septum. “They put a bag over my head to suffocate me and I fainted.” They insisted on “a confession.” “When I woke up they put the bag over my head again. Later they put me in a bin full of water, pulled me out, and threw me on the floor where I hit the back of my head. I didn’t know if I’d recover or if I’d die.”
The officers warned him “that barely a quarter of the punishment had been delivered.” After “they covered my nose and mouth with a cloth, held my head back, and poured water on the cloth so when I breathed the water entered my nose and mouth. If I wanted to talk, they told me to move my head and say I was the assailant. I said no, and they continued their punishment. I felt death coming on. I signaled that I wanted to talk as they were hitting me in the head, and I managed to deny it still. The third I couldn’t stand.”
When interrogating him about his “accomplices,” Antonio mentioned Santiago and Pascual Gómez Moreno, from Xanil. “It’s well-known in my town that they attack people.” The police brought a search warrant to Santiago’s home. “They took me to Ocosingo” and then to Xanil. “They didn’t find it, they had been tipped off.”
They brought him to the sandbar to show them the location of the assaults. A few days earlier, one had occurred there. He started to deny the crime again. “They started punching me in the stomach and my ears and kicking my backside.” Bound hand and foot, he was blindfolded again and heard officers dragging a trunk into the middle of the road. “At that moment I didn’t realize it because of the blindfold, but when I saw the record, I saw the picture of a white RAM van with its doors open and the license plate covered in masking tape, making it seem like it was attacked; I don’t appear in the picture.” They planted a gun, two knives, and a ski mask.
Back in Palenque, they brought him before the Public Prosecutor (MP). “In the report, the MP and experts had already written a document. They didn’t let me make a statement, they just threatened me that if I didn’t sign they would hit me, so I signed the papers out of fear.”