Freedom of expression belongs to those who
In the last issue of The
Dagger we covered the case of Mexican journalist Javier Elorriaga,
who was then completing his first year in prison in Tuxtla Gutierrez,
Chiapas, without ever having been sentenced. On May 2, Elorriaga was
formally charged with terrorism, sedition, conspiracy and rebellion,
and sentenced to 13 years in prison; indigenous leader Sebastian Entzin
was sentenced to 6 years on similar charges. The only "evidence" used
to obtain the verdict was the same fabricated or coerced testimony
that had been thrown out in the cases of other alleged Zapatistas,
since freed. The verdict meant a catastrophe for the peace process
in Chiapas, with the EZLN rightly refusing to deal with a government
whose judicial branch was equating support for their organization
with terrorism. The government, in turn, threatened the Zapatista
leadership with criminal prosecution if they did not remain at the
negotiating table and participating in what by then could only ludicrously
be called "dialogue."
On June 6, in response to
international pressure and the threat of social instability, Entzin
and Elorriaga were released. Both expressed enthusiasm for returning
to their respective trades of farming and journalism, and both vowed
to continue to struggle for peace at the side of the EZLN, and especially
for the liberty of the 16 alleged Zapatistas who remain in prison.
Since then, Elorriaga has headed the civil Zapatista Front for National
Liberation and traveled to Europe and the U.S. on behalf of the
Upon his release, Elorriaga paraphrased
Emiliano Zapata to declare "freedom of expression belongs to those
who work it." The Dagger celebrates Elorriaga's work on this terrain.
His release is a victory for free expression and the power of communication
to effect change.
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