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Excerpt: "Three Indigenous women in Mexico have finally been vindicated more than a decade after they were wrongly jailed for a crime they didn't commit, but they and their supporters have made clear that the government's half-hearted apology doesn't remedy the systemic state discrimination and abuses that criminalize and dehumanize poor Indigenous people."

Jacinta Francisco, one of three indigenous women who were wrongfully jailed for years, stands next to her daughter Estela Hernadez as she shouts slogans. (photo: Reuters)
Jacinta Francisco, one of three indigenous women who were wrongfully jailed for years, stands next to her daughter Estela Hernadez as she shouts slogans. (photo: Reuters)


'Today We Fck'd With the State': Mexico Offers Rare Apology to Indigenous Women

By teleSUR

22 February 17

 

“Today it is clear that being poor, women and Indigenous isn’t cause for shame,” said the daughter of one of the victims.

hree Indigenous women in Mexico have finally been vindicated more than a decade after they were wrongly jailed for a crime they didn’t commit, but they and their supporters have made clear that the government’s half-hearted apology doesn’t remedy the systemic state discrimination and abuses that criminalize and dehumanize poor Indigenous people.

Indigenous hñäñú women Jacinta Francisco, Teresa Gonzalez and Alberta Alcantara received a rare apology Tuesday from Mexico’s Attorney General’s office after spending more than three years in prison on false accusations that they kidnapped six armed federal agents in 2006 — charges that sparked outrage and popular disbelief from the outset.

While the formal apology came as a victory for the victims of the trumped up charges, the women stressed that the struggle for rights and dignity for Indigenous people is far from over.

“We will be content when they respect us as Indigenous people,” said Jacinta, who was initially sentenced to 21 years in jail despite lack of evidence and a legal process that denied her access to an interpreter even though at the time she barely spoke Spanish.

In a somber tone and at points with a wavering voice, Hernandez said she and her mother weren’t happy with the apology, demanding an end to repression of Indigenous people and stressing the need for solidarity across struggles, including freedom for political prisoners and justice in the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students.

“Today it is clear that being poor, women and Indigenous isn’t cause for shame,” she said. “Shame today is on those who supposedly should guarantee our rights as ethnicities and Indigenous people and as human beings.”

“The apology is from mediocre, inept, corrupt and insensitive officials who fabricated the kidnapping crime and invented the fact that Jacinta was a criminal,” she continued, sparking applause.

“Currently we know ignorant, corrupt and bought-off authorities. We don’t thank them,” she added. “We demand that if they don’t know how to do their jobs, they resign from their posts.”

Head of Mexico's Attorney General’s office, Raul Cervantes, said during the event that the act served to “offer an apology in Spanish and hñähñu as a means of reparation for the damages.”

Since Jacinta was freed in 2009, rights groups have called for reparations to be paid for the more than three years she and her fellow Indigenous women spent in jail on false charges.

But Jacinta's daughter rejected economic reparations, stressing the urgent need for meaningful change in the government’s relationship with Indigenous people to guarantee respect for their rights and an end to persecution of Indigenous and social justice activists.

“To those who only think about the money of the reparations for damages, don’t worry,” said Hernandez. “We weren’t born with it, we won’t die with it. Our wealth is not based in money.”

“Today we know that it is not necessary to commit a crime to be disappeared, persecuted, or go to jail,” she concluded, calling for continued struggle for justice, freedom, sovereignty and life “until dignity becomes custom” in Mexico.

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