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Jalisco police accused of torturing indigenous leader

August 28, 2013

A local indigenous leader claims he was tortured by state police and told to falsely implicate a number of officials after being arrested last week.

Gaudencio Mancilla Roblada, an elder councilor of the Ejido Ayotitlan, a communal plot of farmland in the municipality of Cuautitlan de Garcia Barragan, believes he was targeted for having vocally defended his community against organized crime and illegal logging and mining operations. He was detained for illegal possession of a firearm after agents of the Jalisco Prosecutor General’s Office (FGE) raided his home last Thursday.

The FGE said that he threatened the officers with a nine-millimeter handgun and reported finding community police propaganda in his home. Five other homes were reportedly raided and two other people were arrested: Geronimo Flores Elias and Gaudencio’s brother Bonifacio Mancilla Roblada.

Upon his release in the early hours of Friday, August 23, Mancilla said that he had been beaten and tortured by the state police, who wanted him to finger Jalisco Congressman Clemente Castañeda of the leftist Citizens Movement, along with Alfonso Hernandez Barron of the State Human Rights Commission (CEDHJ) and Cesar Diaz and Jaime Hernandez Lamas of the University of Guadalajara’s Indigenous Community Support Unit (UACI), for masterminding a vigilante group in Ayotitlan and supplying the locals with guns.

Castañeda strongly denounced the alleged incident this week and demanded that the state government order an investigation to identify and punish those responsible.

“We condemn any form of harassment and torture, this practice is unacceptable in any circumstances and even more so when it is used as a means to criminalize political opponents,” Castañeda said. He also delivered a letter to the Palacio del Gobierno on Tuesday, requesting an audience with Governor Aristoteles Sandoval to discuss the case in person.

Gaudencio’s brother Bonifacio also said that he had been tortured and told to incriminate Castañeda and the other officials. “They wanted me to say that these people were bringing weapons,” he told the press. “My clothes were so covered in blood that (the authorities) had to buy me clothes,” he added.

Although Ayotitlan locals had discussed forming a community police force around the turn of the year, they ultimately decided against it due to a lack of popular support. Mancilla said he believed his detention had nothing to do with community policing or possession of a firearm and suggested that the real reason he was targeted was for his opposition to the illegal mining operations in Ayotitlan.

Days before his arrest, Mancilla had attended the Indigenous National Congress in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas on August 17 and 18. There he denounced the “miners who come pistol in hand to rob our natural resources.”

The Indigenous National Congress also released a statement condemning the “the bad governments and transnational corporations that have used paramilitary groups to impose … the illegal exploitation of minerals and precious woods, particularly on the Nahua coast, the Meseta Purepecha of Michoacan, and the Ayotitlan Nahua community in the Sierra de Manantlan, Jalisco.”

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