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Farm Defenders Call For Oaxaca Prisoner Release

On Wed. Jan. 16th, Mexican prison authorities denied U.S. farm activists the right to see Flavio Sosa, a prominent leader of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). Sosa is one of several political prisoners still being held in Mexico even though he was arrested over a year ago. The eighteen U.S. farm activists from three states - Wisconsin ,Kentucky , and Maine - were in Oaxaca ,Mexico from Jan. 10th - 17th as part of a solidarity delegation organized by Family Farm Defenders.

For Immediate Release:
Jan. 20th, 2008

Family Farm Defenders Demand Immediate Release of Flavio Sosa and Other Political Prisoners Held in Oaxaca ,Mexico

U.S. Solidarity Delegation Calls Upon Mexican Government to Respect Basic
Human Rights and to Renegotiate NAFTA

On Wed. Jan. 16th, Mexican prison authorities denied U.S. farm activists the right to see Flavio Sosa, a prominent leader of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). Sosa is one of several political prisoners still being held in Mexico even though he was arrested over a year ago. The eighteen U.S. farm activists from three states - Wisconsin ,Kentucky , and Maine - were in Oaxaca ,Mexico from Jan. 10th - 17th as part of a solidarity delegation organized by Family Farm Defenders.

Since the violent repression of the democratic movement by Oaxacan Gov. Ulises Ruiz, with support of federal troops in May 2006, over 500 people have been detained, many tortured while in custody, and over a dozen people have also been killed, including U.S. journalist and WI native, Brad Will on Oct. 27th, 2006. U.S. farm activists joined Mexican human rights groups and other grassroots representatives for a press conference the morning of Jan. 17th to renew the demand for Flavio's immediate and unconditional release. The Family Farm Defenders delegation then traveled for several hours through mountains to reach the prison where Sosa is held only to be told by guards that they could not visit him. Back in Oaxaca City , several thousand APPO supporters rallied in defense of basic democratic freedoms that are apparently no longer guaranteed in Mexico .

"When our neighbors to the South are detained and murdered simply for standing up for democracy and human rights, our elected officials have a responsibility to take action. The vicious crackdown in Mexico is just another ugly face of neoliberal free trade policies. Even our host family in Oaxaca had been imprisoned and tortured by soldiers who had been trained at U.S. taxpayer expense at the School of Americas in Ft. Benning ,GA. We will not let this matter rest until justice is served," noted John Kinsman, organic dairy farmer from Lime Ridge ,WI and president of Family Farm Defenders.

In order to amplify pressure on the Mexican government, Family Farm Defenders will be contacting Congressional leaders, such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to demand that the Mexican government respect basic human rights and immediately release all political prisoners in Oaxaca . As part of Via Campesina's International Day of Action on Sat. Jan. 26th, farm activists will also be staging actions across the U.S. to raise public awareness about the ongoing political repression in Oaxaca and the violence perpetrated by the Mexican government against its own people.


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