Catholics demand the freedom of Alberto Patishtán
Peregrination in San Cristobal

Elio Henríquez, correspondent
Posted: 09.04.2012 15:06
La Jornada

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas. Around three thousand members of the local Catholic diocese organization “Pueblo Creyente” took part in a peregrination through the streets of this city to demand the “immediate and unconditional” release of indigenous Tzotzil Alberto Patishtán Gomez, imprisoned since 2000 and sentenced to 60 years.

“Once more, we are present here as a church in solidarity with our brother Alberto Patishtán, to tell him that he is not alone, we won’t give up until he is able to enjoy his freedom, and we insist to the federal and the state governments that in the name of God, we have had enough of all the injustices against indigenous peoples “, Catholics said.

The group demanded a stop to “the sentences full of injustice and suffering that are being committed against” Patishtán Gomez, whom they defined as a “political prisoner”.

“We demand his immediate and unconditional release, because he is innocent and has unjustly been imprisoned,” they claimed. They added: “You, federal, state and magistrates that apply justice, must not assume you are more powerful than God or be above the law of God, and whatever you do on this planet will stand before the Heavenly Court.”

With the slogan of “the faithful, defending innocents”, and at the front of the the contingent a placard saying, “The parish of El Bosque demands the release of Patishtán Alberto Gomez”, the approximately three thousand Catholics from 10 different parishes located in Tzotzil municipalities in the highlands of Chiapas, began their peregrination at the west entrance of San Cristobal at 10 am.

The Catholics, almost all indigenous, carrying crosses, images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, traditional music and photographs of Alberto, walked for more than an hour to the center of the city and then went to the Cathedral to conclude with a mass. The auxiliary bishop of San Cristobal Enrique Diaz Diaz met them at the entrance of the of the Cathedral and celebrated a Mass, accompanied by other priests, including Tzotzil, Marcelo Perez, pastor of Simojovel.

“Today, as in Jesus’ time people are unfairly jailed, convicted, and their rights, freedom and dignity are breached,” he said in his homily that was translated into Tzotzil. “Also today, the poorest, the weakest, the most humble is convicted even if innocent,” he added. “God is against the manipulation of laws oppressing the innocent, the smallest and the poorest,” said Diaz Diaz, who called for “true justice” in the case of Patishtán Gomez.

“Pueblo Creyente” declared that the indigenous Tzotzil, who is imprisoned in a penitentiary located about 20 kilometres from the city, “never committed the crime of which he is accused, all he has done is work for his people and work alongside those fighting for truth and justice “, that’s why “he has been deprived of his liberty merely for political reasons. ”

Alberto Patishtán was arrested in June 2000 on charges of participating in an ambush that killed seven policemen and injured two others, in the municipality of El Bosque, in the north of the state, his place of origin; he was sentenced to 60 years in prison, due to his activism, has been held in different prisons, including Guasave, Sinaloa, from where he was finally returned to Chiapas last month, after ten months of protests.