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After 13 years, Patishtán returns to El Bosque

Alberto Patishtán Gómez regresó el domingo, después de 13 años de carcel, a su pueblo natal, El Bosque, en ChiapasFoto Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

*He is a disgrace to the authorities
Alberto Patishtán Gómez returned to his birthplace, El Bosque, in Chiapas, on Sunday after 13 years in prison. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago
Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada, Tuesday 2nd November, 2013

San Juan El Bosque, Chiapas - Speaking of his long captivity, Alberto Patishtán says to the small crowd who welcome him home: "They were thirteen years of living death. But instead of dying, I was returned to life. Instead of keeping silent, I learned to speak. We are poor, but rich in principles and values, in dignity and respect. We know how to resist, and how to insist on justice."
The multitudes of the Tzotzil people of El Bosque welcomed their most famous and admired son. After his thirteen-year absence, today the villagers gave Patishtán Gómez a forceful and moving presence. Since morning, here they have done nothing but welcome him. They accompanied him through the streets. They gave him countless hugs. There were Catholic prayers and songs, rockets, speeches, and thanks for the powerful meat of three bulls slaughtered for the occasion. The teacher said, "I'm not just content, but happy." His compañero from many battles, the teacher Martin Ramírez, said on behalf of the El Bosque Movement in Defence of the People: "Everybody wins, we are celebrating a victory."

But contentment does not detract from the indignation: "It took thirteen years to free an innocent man. It is a disgrace to all the federal and state authorities. In Mexico there is no justice. The rage is not going to end. Nor the memory," declares the teacher Ramírez López. During the emotional public ceremony, Patishtán relates that on October 31, on gaining his release, he contacted friends and family here in El Bosque. He heard laughter and voices on the phone. "We ourselves are also free," they were saying to him.
Giving Thanks

At a long table on the stage of the city hall, Patishtán is accompanied, at midday, by his grandfather ("the much beloved") Francisco Mariano Gómez Gómez, his Aunt Carmen, who fought hard for his release, and his former father-in-law Gregorio Ruíz, who took charge of the teacher's two minor children when he was imprisoned and his spouse abandoned the three of them rather ignominiously. "I still call him my father-in-law," Patishtán says, while also recognizing his lawyers Leonel and Sandino Rivero, and the civil agencies and groups "who were always by my side."
The master of ceremonies does his part. Pointing toward Patishtán, he says: "We have here the person that fate and bad luck had taken from us." Then he asks for "a strong round of applause for the compañero who never took one step back, the teacher Martín Ramírez." On taking the floor, Martín says: "In 2000 we were a little fist. Now we are a lot of people on every continent of the world." He recalls that "three compañeros remain in prison (Miguel Demeza, Antonio Estrada and Alejandro Sántiz, who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle), and after demanding fulfilment of the San Andrés Accords (he says well, "memory does not end") and expressing solidarity with the displaced in Puebla (Chenalhó) and Banavil (Tenejapa), with the country's political prisoners, and with the protesting corn farmers in "several Chiapas municipalities," he denounces the harassment and repression by the current mayor, Humberto López Pérez, and his predecessors, "for [our] defence of Patishtán." But, he adds, "I stopped being afraid twenty years ago."

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