Nearly one-third of all indigenous people jailed for various crimes since 2013 have been freed, and injustice played a role in the imprisonment of every single one.
The National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI) has managed to secure the release of 2,773 indigenous people in the last two years, of the 8,558 incarcerated during that period. CDI director Nuvia Mayorga Delgado says all were unfairly jailed.
Pablo Huachina Posadas, a Náhuatl, was told while in custody that he would never be released and would “rot” in jail. On March 16, 2012, the 51-year-old was assisting local officials by carrying oak firewood in his truck. Although he was working for municipal officials, he was detained by state police and later charged for crimes against the environment.
After that day life completely changed for him and his family. Huachina Posadas worked as a bricklayer, earning 50 to 150 pesos (US $3.30 to $9.90) a day to support his wife and three children.
After leaving prison on May 1, 2012, he had to sign in at the court for a year and a half, paying 600 pesos every 15 days, a difficult payment to make on his limited salary.
His experience led him to conclude that “for the indigenous, justice is very different.”
Citing CDI statistics, Mayorga Delgado said that each of the 2,773 individuals the commission helped release spent from 50 days to more than three years in prison. She says the commission’s plan during this presidential term is to free 70% of the incarcerated indigenous population.
The CDI has numerous projects to help the indigenous, including assistance with making bail and reintegration. Its 2015 goal is to free more than 1,000 indigenous people, at a cost of 80,000 pesos per case. Those resources go towards bail, which the accused often cannot pay and must remain in jail as a result. Its programs also assist at trials by supplying translators and indigenous lawyers, of which it can call on nearly 200 of each.
Once free, individuals are reintegrated into society with the CDI’s help. In Huachina Posadas’ case, he was given a hardware store. The commission also offers counsel to women for psychological damage.
Mayorga Delgado asserted that “judges rule against the easily convicted.”
Those convicts are found in Oaxaca (1,460), Chiapas (1,082), Puebla (998), Veracruz (735), the Federal District (520) and Chihuahua (418), which are the states with the highest numbers of incarcerated indigenous people, according to figures from 2013
Source: El Universal (sp)