Doctor José Manuel Mireles Valverde has received widespread support since his arrest, and people are even shaving their heads as a sign of solidarity. However, he affirms that his refusal to submit to the will of an ineffective and corrupt government meant that he was always going to be imprisoned. As a result, he says, he is being held as a “political prisoner”.
Along with his three Autodefensa escorts (Javier Reyes Magaña, Salvador Mendoza García and Gerardo López Casillas), he currently finds himself in a prison in Hermosillo, Sonora. The alleged crimes they committed were “carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the Army” and crimes “against health” by carrying small quantities of marijuana and cocaine (an accusation that his defence attorney Talía Vázquez Alatorre affirms is false).
Vázquez emphasises that his arrest was “illegal”, that “serious violations in due process” were committed, and that “the declarations of public officials… place him as a political prisoner” (both the ‘Commissioner for Security in Michoacán’, Alfredo Castillo, and the Minister of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, for example, have declared that Mireles is in prison for not having complied with the May accords made with Autodefensa members). As a result, Vázquez is preparing a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an appeal against the court decision, and an “amparo” (or ‘protection’ of the right to be treated as ‘innocent until proven guilty’). She also insists that, if anyone ‘did not comply with the May accords’, it was Alfredo Castillo, who “did not release 517 Autodefensa prisoners” and failed to “free Hipólito Mora before May 10”. Moreover, he did not arrest La Tuta or “re-establish the rule of law” in the state.
Mireles’s defence also affirms that: he and his comrades were arrested without a warrant; he has been submitted to “acts of torture”; the judge had not investigated the facts; he was denied his legal right to make a phone call after his arrest; and the supposed ‘evidence’ was “planted” by State authorities. Its 55-page declaration in favour of Mireles also points out that the issues above (including his blindfolding “without reason or justification”) “annul each and every piece of evidence” that could be presented against him.
Lawyer Salvador Molina Navarro, meanwhile, alleges that Mireles has obeyed the law, backing this assertion up by referring to the comments of academic Jaime Cárdenas, who said members of Autodefensas who have been detained could not be processed because they belong to a known “social movement”. Mireles’s defence also believes that both personal and collective “legitimate defence” have been applied in Michoacán as a result of the government’s failure to guarantee security in the state. “The inhabitants of different sectors of the population”, it affirms, “find themselves in complete necessity of defending themselves and their property collectively… by seizing control of any means of defence that may be feasible”.
Adapted from a translation completed by the Chiapas Support Committee (http://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/mireles-i-am-a-political-prisoner/) of an article originally published in Spanish by Sanjuana Martínez at http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/07/politica/015n1pol on Monday, July 7, 2014