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Atenco’s women political prisoners speak out

Published May 23, 2006 11:10 PM

On May 3 and 4 in San Salvador, Atenco, Mexico, flower vendors from People in Defense of the Land Front (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra) were attempting to use a space in the Texcoco market to sell their flowers when state police brutally attacked them. The space the vendors were attempting to occupy has been sold for the building of a new Wal-Mart. Nevertheless, in the early hours of the next morning, May 5, they moved to reoccupy their space.

For defending their space in the market, protesters were met with vicious police violence that left two young men dead and countless people injured. In addition, 217 prisoners have been detained since the incident.

These prisoners have begun a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their arrests and their inhumane treatment at the hands of local police.

On May 19, demonstrations in support of the Atenco uprising were held in 45 cities and 22 countries worldwide. These events were in response to the call made by the Intergalactic Commission of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation—EZLN—to organize an international day of mobilizations.

Another day of solidarity is planned for May 28 and is expected to draw even more supporters. Protesters are being encouraged to demonstrate in front of Wal-mart stores and Mexican consulates. Go to chiapas.indymedia.org for information on the May 28 protests.

Following is a letter from the women detained in Atenco detailing their gruesome experiences:

We the women, workers in the countryside and the city, housewives, students, etc., political prisoners since May 3 and 4, are indignant over being sentenced to prison. We weren’t just insulted, humiliated, beaten, tortured, sexually abused, and raped—now are also prisoners, criminals.

We have lived through repression; not just as people in struggle, but also as women, and in a very specific way. Because even if the men were beaten more, we were sexually attacked and raped. We were subjected to every kind of repression. During our arrest, it started with insults: “You’re a whore! You damn whore! We are going to rape you like the whore that you are!” But it wasn’t enough for them just to beat us; they threatened to kill some of us, or to disappear us. They even tortured us to get information about our families, threatening to kill them too.

Nothing will cleanse us of the sexual abuse and the rape. We were groped; had our hair pulled; were kicked; beaten with sticks, clubs, and shields on our breasts, our rear ends, our genitals. While they went on threatening us, we were bitten on our breasts, nipples, ears, lips, tongues, etc. We were penetrated with fingers and objects. Some were forced to perform oral sex, while they laughed at us for being women.

Despite all the abuses that we suffered, now we are also victims of medical negligence. Some of us should have been bandaged and attended to since the day we arrived; some of us have vaginal infections and infected wounds; and some of us can’t even sit down for the wounds we suffered.

Despite all that, we are still on a hunger strike, because we are not taking one step back in this struggle. Because we want justice for everyone! Because we should keep fighting, even from prison, so that’s what we are going to do. We will have stayed, and will stay, on our feet in this struggle.

People, lift your voice! Whatever it takes to bring justice out of this deafness!

Lift up also your reason and your wisdom! If our hands can’t do anything here, inside the prison, then our words will. Give us back our freedom! We will see justice done! For the physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, and for the rapes! No one should stay indifferent to the pain that all of us have had to endure! Freedom for Political Prisoners!


The women political prisoners, from below and towards the left, in struggle