Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stop the repression in Atenco, Mexico!

Stop the Repression in Atenco!!!
Personal account of Valentina Palma, Chilean documentary film-maker

Santiago, ChileTuesday, May 9th, 2006:
My name is Valentina Palma Novoa. I am 30 years old, I would like to relate to you the events I was witness to during the violent incidents in the town of San Salvador Atenco on Thursday, May 4th, 2006, which ultimately resulted in my unjust and arbitrary expulsion from Mexico.

Wednesday, May 3rd, after seeing the news on television and learning of the death of a 14 year old boy, I was moved ... to go to San Salvador Atenco and see for myself the true situation of the town. I went there at night, filming and interviewing the sentinels the townsfolk had posted. The dawn's light announced the new day: Thursday, May 4th. It must have been 6 AM, when the bells of the church of San SalvadorAtenco began to sound while a microphone blared that the police were raiding the town.

I made my way to one of the guard posts, where the townspeoplelooked in the direction of the mass of police who could be seen inthe distance. I zoomed in with my camera, and I realized that there were tons of them and, cloaked by their shields they were advancing. I felt afraid; they were numerousand heavily armed, while the peasants were few and unarmed. The air became unbreathable as the police fired tear gas and I went to the town square while the bells rang even louder.

The weak resistance put up by the townspeople gave way completely, faced with the attackthe police forces had abruptly unleashed on the populace. I shut my camera off and ran with the rest as fast as I could. In front of the church was a public building with its doors wide open and Iwent inside, foolishly expecting the turbulence would pass. Futilely, we climbed up, seeking to hide on theroof and lay face up watching the helicopters purring in the skylike houseflies, with the sound of gunshots forming the local soundscape. A man's voice shouted violently, "You bastards up on the roof, come down." The young men went down first, and I saw from above how they beat them, and panicked I couldn't make myself descend, at which pointthe policeman shouted: "Get down here, bitch, get down here now."

I climbed down slowly, terrified at the sight of how they had clubbed the two youths in the head. Two police grabbed me, pushing me forwardwhile other beat me with their clubs on my breasts, back and legs. I heard someone's voice ask me my name to add to the list of detainees, and my cries of pain increased when I responded "Valentina,Valentina Palma Novoa" while a policeman ordered me to shut my mouthand another pummeled my breasts. A man's voice commanded the other police to hide me with their shields so witnesses could not see me being beaten.

They yanked me up by my hair and said "Get in the truck, you whore."I could barely move, yet they demanded that I hurry up. They tossedme on a heap of other wounded and bloody bodies and commanded me to lower my head into a pool of blood. I didn't want to put my head in the blood but the policeman's black boot on my head forced me down. I was groped by many police hands. I just shut my eyes and clenched my teeth, hoping the worst wouldn't happen. My pants pulled down, the trunk stopped and they ordered me to getout. I stumbled out and a policewoman said: "Leave this bitch to me" and struck my ears with both hands. I fell and two police draggedme back towards the bus through a gauntlet of police who kicked usall the while.Up on the bus, another policewoman asked my name while two policemen brutally mashed my breasts and threw me on top of the body of an old man whose face was bloody scab. When he felt my body pressing down, the old man cried in pain, so I tried to move until I was stopped by a kick in the back. My scream made the old man scream again, begging God for mercy...

Valentina was deported from Mexico and is now in Chile. There are still 28 individuals being held in prison facing torture and rape at the hands of the police. Unfortunately Valentina´s story seems to be typical of the women who were arrested May 4th in Atenco, all of whom were beaten and raped in police custody. Stop the Repression in Mexico!!! Free the Prisoners of Atenco!!!

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