Thursday, June 12, 2008

In his own words: Antonio Hernández Cruz

Here's a 1994 interview of Antonio Hernández Cruz, then-secretary general of the State Indigenous and Campesino Council of Chiapas, from the book, First World, Ha Ha Ha! The Zapatista Challenge (pp. 120-121):

Please note that the interviewer's questions will be in italics:
Can you tell me what happened to you when you were detained by the military; what did they accuse you of?

We were detained on January 5 until 2:00 P.M. the following day ... They accused us of being the Zapatistas' political leaders ... They took us from the car we were riding in, put hoods over our heads and tied them very tightly around our necks. We were like this for twenty-four hours. Then they interrogated us heavily, trying to force us to say that we sympathized or were active in the Zapatista Army. When we said no, they hit us. I received blows in the stomach, chest, back, and head, about twenty hard blows.

Did you denounce this occurrence?

To the national and international press, to the television, but television doesn't report anything. The press didn't report everything that occurred. I have publicly denounced the detention in meetings but the only thing which remains is the message, no actions have been taken. After being freed, I vomited blood for two days, because the beatings were severe. The hoods they put on us had ground chili pepper and our eyes were stinging. The powder would fall in our eyes with the slightest movements, and also we were tied up.

Do you think torture has become common?

What was done to us was humanitarian compared to what they did to other compañeros. People are tortured simply because they do not speak Spanish very well, and do not understand orders they are given. From the maximum security cell where they held us, you could hear the beatings and continuous screams.
This post is part of an on-going series, The Human Face of Torture. Please also note that June is Torture Awareness Month.

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