Jesus Emiliano Garcia, Leader of he Frente Democratico Campesino de Chihuahua has been released!

But The Struggle is not over!

Today, March 15th, Jesús Emiliano García, member of the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua (FDC), was released at about 1 a.m., after been jailed at the State Penitentiary (CERESO) of Chihuahua since March 9 accused of “sabotage.”

The decree of release by the Federal Judge of the 10th  was issued at about 10 p.m., on March 14th. Besides the arrest of  Jesús Emiliano García, other warrants of arrest were issued against four more leaders of the FDC; Rogelio Ruelas,  Francisco Escalante, Javier Castillo, and Víctor Quintana. After his release,  Jesús Emiliano García, joined the large group of members of the FDC who have been protesting outside the offices of the Department of Agriculture since Monday. Members of El Barzón and other peasants and social organizations were part of the group occupying the  federal offices. Jesús Emiliano García was received with cheers by the protesters who decided to continue their protest to demand that the pending warrants of arrest be nullified and an end to the criminalization of the peasant movement.

Today, at about noon, the protesters decided to move their protest to the State Palace of Chihuahua to demand a round table of negotiations to deal with the original demands of the FDC. As you all remember, the original demand was the creation of an emergency program by the Federal Government to initiate land preparations to sow bean and corn. To pressure the Federal Government, members of the FDC staged a protest outside the offices of the Agriculture Department in Chihuahua on February 19 and 20 of this year. The urgency of the creation of such emergency program was the corn crisis which caused the price of tortilla, the most basic element of the diet of the Mexican people, to increase more than 41.6 per cent in only one month. Another reason for the urgent demand was that after coping with many years of dry winters and drought, the winter had brought some snow and rain and the peasants were eager to take advantage to the humidity in the soil. But the response of the Federal Government was a treacherous attack against the leadership of the FDC. On March 9, while president Felipe Calderon was visiting Chihuahua, plain clothes federal officers (of the fearsome Agencia Federal de Investigaciones or AFI) raided the place of Jesús Emiliano García and arrested him without showing an arrest warrant. His wife, who is 6 months pregnant, was pushed and verbally abused by the federal agents. They took him in and unmarked vehicle and jailed him in the State Penitentiary accused of the federal charge of “sabotage.” Other arrest warrants were issued to four more leaders of the FDC.

The release of Jesús Emiliano García is the result of the protests of the peasants of the social organizations of Chihuahua as well as of the actions of solidarity in Mexico and other countries. However, the struggle is not over. At this very moment, the legal counsel of the FDC is attempting to understand the legal implications of the release of Jesús Emiliano García as well as the fate of the pending arrest warrants. It is not clear if the release is the result of the Federal Prosecutor drooping the charges of any other legal maneuver. At this moment it’s not clear also if the warrants have been nullified. At the same time, the original causes of the repressive response of the Federal Government, the just demands by the peasants, are still intact.

What is clear is that this act of repression against the FDC and its leadership is another aspect of the neo-liberal offensive against the peasant and popular movement for food sovereignty. Therefore we need to continue to be alert in defense of our movement and in defense of all fighting for food sovereignty.

Members of the FDC has asked me to convey their most sincere gratitude to everybody for all the actions of solidarity. They also ask us to continue supporting the rest of their demands.

Carlos Marentes

March 15, 2007