Activists detained in Mexico (Updated with a victory)

From Food First comes an urgent action in defence of farmer leaders in Chihuahua. Send it to the Mexican embassy in the US, UK , Canada, or your own home country today.

Update
Here’s an Update from Food First:

Chihuahua, Mexico— Jesús Emiliano García, a Director of the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua (Peasants Democratic Front of Chihuahua–FDC), was released from prison Thursday morning after being held for six days on charges of “sabotage.” The arrest, which came after Jesús Emiliano helped organize protests over tortilla price increases, drew large crowds of protesters demanding his release. On the night of March 14th a judge dropped all charges on Jesús Emiliano and he was free to leave the following morning. He went directly to the Secretary of Agriculture office in Chihuahua, which has been occupied by more than 800 campesinos since Monday, where he was received with cheers and celebration.

In a recent letter, the FDC thanked all the Social Movement Organizations in the U.S. that helped call for the release of Jesús Emiliano and four other organizers who were released earlier. They also reaffirmed their commitment to maintain the struggle for better conditions for campesino families.

Thank you to all who responded to this action alert.

The original call is below…
________________________

Dear Friends of Food First,

Please copy, paste, and mail this URGENT letter to the Mexican Embassy regarding the arrest of Mexican farm leader and colleague Jesus Emiliano Garcia and the arrest warrants of several members of the Frente Democratico Campesino de Chihuahua, including Rural Coalition board member, Victor Quintana.

Background:
Last Friday, during a visit of Felipe Calderon to Chihuahua, Mexico, the Federal Investigation Agency arrested one of the leaders of the Frente Democratico Campesino, Jesus Emiliano Garcia on the charges of “sabotage”. This accusation rose from an occupation of the building of the Secretary of Agriculture in Chihuahua last month, by the farmers of the FDC demanding an urgent program of subsidies to grow corn, in the context of high international prices and big importations of this grain, the basic food for Mexican families.

Along with Jesus Emiliano, there are four more leaders of the FDC sought by the police with orders of apprehension: Rogelio Ruelas, Francisco Escalante, Javier Castillo and Victor Quintana. The social organizations of Chihuahua and all over Mexico see this prosecution as an frightening strategy against people who criticize Calderon government. We support their call to urge the
Federal Government of Mexico to immediately release of Jesus Emiliano and drop all the charges against him and the leaders of the FDC.

************************

March 13, 2007

The Honorable Arturo Sarukhan
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20006

Dear Ambassador Sarukhan,

I am dismayed to learn that leader Jesús Emiliano García was arrested last week on charges of sabotage for participating in the
occupation of the building of the Secretary of Agriculture in Chihuahua last month. We understand that in addition to Jesús Emiliano García, there are orders of apprehension out for four more leaders of the FDC: Rogelio Ruelas, Francisco Escalante, Javier Castillo and Victor Quintana.

In the context of high international corn prices and extensive imports from the United States, the farmers of the FDC were demanding an urgent program of subsidies to grow corn, the basic food for Mexican families. Mexican
corn farmers have suffered inordinately from the increased importation of corn since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

We support the right of farmers and their leaders to voice their opposition to these policies that affect such a large and vulnerable population of Mexican farmers.

The arrest of García sends a message of insensitivity and intimidation to farmers and rural communities who have already suffered so much under current trade and agriculture policies. For this reason, we the
undersigned organizations urge the Federal Government of Mexico to immediately release Jesús Emiliano García and to drop the charges against him and the remaining leaders of the FDC.

For more info regarding this issue, please contact Lorette Picciano of the Rural Coalition at 202-628-7160 or picciano@ruralco.org.

Sincerely,

(your name)
**************************************
Rural Coalition
1012 14th St., NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
202-628-7160
202-628-7165 – fax
www.ruralco.org
www.supermarketcoop.com
Lorette Picciano, Executive Director
Lpicciano@ruralco.org