Former Black Panther Party member and one of the United States’ most famous inmates, Mumia Abu-Jamal, has sent a message of solidarity to the people of San Pedro Tlanixco, in central Mexico, who are being criminalized in their struggle to defend local water resources.
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In one of his regular audio recordings through the Prison Radio podcast, Mumia tells the story of the organized people of San Pedro Tlanixco and asks listeners to support their political prisoners.
"This is an old story, not only because it occurred over a decade and a half ago around 2003, but because it involves descendants of an ancient people, the Indigenous people of the Americas,” Mumia says during the recording.
Several years ago, business people associated with flower growers and the municipal authorities of Tenango del Valle reached a deal to redirect natural water resources for large-scale agricultural projects.
The local community organized itself to defend the water and issued legal complaints, which were ignored by authorities. In 2003, the Indigenous organization and the business people agreed to meet, but one of the representatives of the flower growers didn’t attend and was later found dead near a ravine.
The authorities accused the local water-defense committee of murdering Alejandro Isaac Basso and kidnapping other flower growers.
"They are Indigenous political prisoners of the liberal and neoliberal State of Mexico," Mumia says. "Support them in their just struggle for water that flows in the mountains."
The Tlanixco committee has denied involvement in the death of Basso, calling on authorities to investigate the murder and also to immediately release their political prisoners.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in 1982, has been described as the "the world’s best known death-row inmate" by the New York Times. His death sentence has since been revoked, but he remains imprisoned in Philadelphia.
You can listen to the audio message here or read the transcription:
"This is an old story, not only because it occurred over a decade and a half ago around 2003, but because it involves descendents of an ancient people, the Indigenous people of the Americas.
"In the mountains, several hours west of Mexico City, lies a city called San Pedro Tlanixco, an Indigenous town of Nahuatl.
"For years they engaged in light farming, the raising and harvesting of magic mushrooms and some clothing production.
"In 2000, big businesses entered the town and tried to own all the water. The community rebelled, staging blockades in protest.
"The monied class called in their armed forces and before you knew it, violence strucks San Pedro Tlanixco and about half a dozen people, five men and one woman were accused of killing a local flower grower, Isaac Basso. According to eye witnesses, Basso slipped and fell down a canyon all by himself, but no matter.
"Members of the local water committee, organized to resist the seizure and sale of water by the Mexican agrocultural businesses, took the blame, with sentences of up to 50 years for defending water. They are Dominga Gonzalez Martinez, Lorenzo Sanchez Berriozabal, Marco Antonio Perez Gonzalez, Pedro Sanchez Berriozabal, Romulo Arias Mireles and Teofilo Perez Gonzalez.
"Several others have been charged, but not captured. They are Indigenous political prisoners of the liberal and neoliberal State of Mexico.
"Support them in their just struggle for water that flows in the mountains.
"From Imprisoned Nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal."