Mexican National Meeting of Legal Strategies for the Other Campaign
Representatives from Many States Discuss How to Best Defend Social Movements, with Focus on Atenco
By Amber Howard
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico City
May 14, 2006
On May 13th, 2006 in México City, groups of lawyers, human rights workers, networks and non-governmental organizations, students and community members came together for the National Meeting to Define Legal Strategies in Defense of the Social Struggle. Originally this meeting was to be held in San Luis Potosí, but since Delegate Zero has decided to stay in Mexico City until the political prisoners detained during the violent events of May 3-4 in nearby San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco are released, the meeting was moved to the Cultural University Center, a part of UNAM, the National Autonomous University of México in Mexico City. The Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center hosted the gathering.
Photo: D.R. 2006 Amber Howard
Since it was a national meeting, the first item of business was to divide into small groups to discuss individual local challenges concerning the repression of social movements by government, courts and police. The next mission was to create proposals for strategies or methods to handle these situations. These were brought back to the entire group in order to create statement for the whole country. The states represented were based on attendance. The southern contingent was: Guerrero, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. To the north: Monterrey, Aguascalientes, Baja California and Chiahuahua. The delegation from the central region consisted of: Mexico State, Puebla, Morelos, Jalisco, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala.
Convened at 9 am, the small group session ended at 1:00 pm to begin the session for general proposals. Upon returning to the large group, much of the discussion was focused on the recent events of San Salvador Atenco, and the best way to go about freeing the political prisoners. It was determined necessary form coordination between different human rights groups and lawyers across the country to support each other in the fight of these cases as they arrive. Many of the lawyers present agreed that the first step in the release of prisoners is filing an “amparo,” a sort of legal protection.
In order to proceed with the case of Atenco in the best possible way, many mentioned the importance of different experts — such as medical professionals, psychologists and social workers — having access to the prisoners to determine the physical, emotional, and psychological damage suffered. One of the strategies of the jail system is to block access to these entities until the marks of the abuse have diminished.
Many at the meeting deemed it necessary to begin to use terms like “torture” to describe the treatment of the political prisoners. Juan de Dios Hernandezm one of the lawyers representing the detained declared, “out of the 47 women detained, at least 30 have been penetrated with penis, finger or other object. This is torture by the State of México.”
Other themes of discussion included the similarities of the repression presently occurring in México with that of times past; the detrimental effects of the mass media in creating a state of fear and not presenting the reality of the events; how to hold political parties and government personnel responsible; and how best to liberate political prisoners in general, on a national level. Overall, the next step was determined to be solidarity against the neoliberal capitalist system that is the root of the violence.
Five lines of action were created:
- A general coordination of different critical sectors based on consensus and autonomy.
- A campaign against the mass media, forming an information center and webpage.
- Solidarity and support between academics, ex-prisoners, citizens, lawyers and human rights workers and agencies to march, mobilize and use other protest tactics.
- Extra-legal strategies on a national and international level, particularly with Human Rights.
- Training: the exchange of information and practices to aid in legal aspects and language, human rights, documentation and political analysis.
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