Good morning. My name is Porfirio Domínguez Muñozcano. I am an architect. My professional credential is number 1379284. All of my life for 16 years, I have been an architect, working in this profession.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, at approximately 5 pm, I left my house in my car to go print plans that I had on a disk, at a business that is located on Reforma Street, between Morelos and Independencia. Upon arriving in the city center, I parked my car on the corner of Reforma and Constitución Berrio Saval (?). From there, and I started walking toward the business where I needed to go to print my plans.
Once I arrived at the business, I printed out the plans, at about 5:30pm. From there, I started walking back. Upon returning to the intersection of Reforma St and Constitución St, upon crossing the street, I could sense when I turned around, that troops of the PFP [Federal Preventive Police] were advancing from south to north, coming towards where I was standing.
And being in that location, my only reaction was to move back against one of the walls of the Hemeroteca, a building that was at that intersection of Reforma and Constitución, next to the
HOW MANY WERE THERE IN THE TROOP OF PFP WHO CAME RUNNING TOWARDS YOU?
The platoon had approximately 20 to 25 people.
AND WHEN THEY CAME RUNNING, WERE THEY MARCHING IN FORMATION OR RUNNING?
Running, running. It was approximately 6:30 pm when I was detained and the first blow I received was with a baton to the head. And with those two – they gave me two blows to the head – I lost consciousness.
WHEN THEY CAME RUNNING TOWARDS YOU AND DETAINED YOU, WHAT DID THEY SAY? WERE THEY GIVING ORDERS?
No, they didn’t say a single word. They simply came with the intention of detaining all the people they found in that area.
BEFORE BEATING YOU WITH A BATON, WERE THEY BEATING MANY OTHER PEOPLE?
Yes. And these people from the PFP were shooting tear gas into the air as they came. Many people lost consciousness from breathing in that substance and couldn’t know if there was any motive for their detention. In my case, as I said, with those two blows to the head I was left unconscious. I was unconscious for approximately 2 hours, during the entire process of my transfer from
YOU REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE ZÓCALO?
In the zócalo. At the moment that I regained consciousness, my head was already bandaged. I was very beaten. My face was very inflamed. This eye was almost completely closed [indicating his left eye]. I had big bruises all over my body. And when I woke up, I didn’t have my shoes anymore, my cell phone was gone, as was a camera that I was carrying. I no longer had my driver’s license, my vehicle registration, or my voter registration card—all of the documentation that I usually carry on me. I had nothing, none of that documentation.
WHEN YOU REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS, WHAT DID YOU SEE? HOW MANY POLICE OFFICERS WERE THERE GUARDING YOU? HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE THERE DETAINED WITH YOU? WERE THEY LYING ON THE GROUND? WERE THEY SITTING?
All of us were lying on the ground face down. When I lifted up my head a little, I could tell that there were many people who were lying face down, under the same conditions I was in. And we were surrounded by many, many agents of the Federal Preventative Police in that area because that was the place that the Federal Preventative Police were stationed to defend.
Upon recovering consciousness, I began to notice that the agents of the PFP were beginning to transfer the compañeros to an unknown destination. Many were being taken in buses, pickup trucks, and in my case, I was taken with others and we were put on top of each other – we were put on top of each other, one on top of the other – and, well, they took us towards an unknown destination. And during this entire trip, they were constantly threatening us, psychologically torturing us, and hitting us with the weapons they were carrying at the time. They were kicking us and hitting us with the butts of their weapons. They stepped on our fingers, our heads. These people truly created a situation of psychological torture for us.
WHEN THEY PUT YOU IN – WAS IT A TRUCK?
A pickup truck.
HOW MANY DETAINED PEOPLE WERE THERE IN THE PICKUP TRUCK?
There were about 4 or 5 of us. We were lying face-down. I was on the bottom, and then there were two other people on top of us and I don’t know how many people were on top of them, but that is how they took us.
WAS THERE EVER A MOMENT WHEN THEY TOLD YOU WHY THEY WERE TAKING YOU?
No, they didn’t tell us anything. The theme of the journey was simply torture. Then there was a time when they parked for about 2 hours and they told us that a helicopter was coming for us, and that it was either going to take us to an unknown destination or that they were going to throw us out of the helicopter and that would be the end of us. They were always constant threatening us throughout the whole journey.
I know the city of
COULD YOU DESCRIBE A LITTLE AND POINT OUT WHAT YOUR WOUNDS ARE?
Well, look – the two scars that I have here on my head – at that time they were bleeding. But the most powerful blow that I received was in my eyes. They fractured my left eye socket, as the doctors call it. This was what damaged me the most, because I almost lost my eye and all of these bruises that I have here from the constant blows that they were giving me are marks that are still not going away.
AND WERE YOU ALL SWOLLEN TOO?
Yes, and all of this was swollen – this whole part of my body. On my arm, you can see it is still purple from the beating. Here are some cuts from jabs they gave us. My knee is the same. All over our bodies – in my case, every part of my body was assaulted. They damaged the whole bottom part beneath my eye so that I’m slowly losing vision, and then I have these bruises on my arms and other parts of the body. I was, in my case, hit verywhere, all over my body.
SO THEN YOU ARRIVED AT THE PRISON?
Yes. All along the way they were trying to disorient us so that we wouldn’t realize where we were really going. They spent a lot of time taking off-road trails and then they finally ended up on a paved road. From what the police were saying, I started figuring out that they were taking us to the prison at Tlacolula.
Then, around 2 or 3 in the morning, we arrived at the prison and I realized that there were many people that they had detained. At that moment, theywere talking about 74 men, 16 women, and 8 to 10 children – children, minors who had been taken to this prison.
AT THE BEGINNING ALL OF YOU WERE IN ONE PLACE?
DID THE DETAINED PEOPLE THAT YOU SAW THERE ALL HAVE SIGNS OF HAVING BEEN BEATEN AND ATTACKED, TOO?
Yes, everyone did. There were even people who they kept beating more as they were taken in to the prison.
YOU SAW THIS?
Yes, exactly. They didn’t do it to me, probably because I was already very, very badly beaten. I was one of the people most badly beaten at the time.
Well, then they took us in to the prison. The police were intimidating us all along. We had to keep our heads down the whole time – we were not allowed to lift up our heads the whole way, until they put us into cells – 5 people to each cell. So we were in one of the cells. We were the people who were the most badly beaten. But among those five people, I was always the most notorious for all of the blows I had received.
DURING THE WHOLE PROCESS OF PUTTING YOU INTO CELLS, DID THEY EVER PROCESS YOU – GETTING YOUR NAMES, PAPERS, ETC.?
No. They just put us into our cells. But when we first arrived, they asked us our names, they asked us our personal information and all of that. But once we were in our cells, not anymore
AND UP TO THAT MOMENT THEY HADN’T TOLD YOU WHY YOU WERE ALL DETAINED OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
They didn’t tell us anything when we were in prison all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. All they gave us was one meal, until Sunday night when the Public Ministry arrived to take our initial statements. I personally declared some of what I’m telling you right now.
WAS IT THE STATE PUBLIC MINISTRY, OR THE FEDERAL?
The State Public Ministry. After they took our statements, they read us the reasons that, according to them, we had been detained. They accused us of burning of buildings, sedition, assault and well, right now I don’t remember, but the most important charges were burning buildings, sedition and assault.
ASSAULT AGAINST POLICE OFFICERS?
DURING ALL THIS TIME YOU STILL HADN’T RECEIVED ANY TREATMENT?
No, not yet.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR EYE?
Well, when I arrived at the prison, I was still bleeding from my arm and I didn’t receive any treatment for the blows I received until Sunday afternoon when they took me to the infirmary and gave me tranquilizers. They gave me some pills to ease the pain, but they didn’t perform any sort of immediate medical intervention at that time.
So, when they were reading us the charges they were accusing us of, the majority of us were not in agreement with them because we didn’t have anything to do with it and we hadn’t participated in what they were charging us for. And they were going to add these charges on to all of the statements we had given at the time.
I was there for two nights and one day, and during that whole time we were held incommunicado. They did not give us the chance to communicate with our families. Some of our family members had already found out that we were at the prison at Tlacolula, and they came on Sunday night, wanting to visit their family members. But the Federal Preventive Police started chasing off our family members, intimidating them, saying they would arrest them, put them through the same process and into the same situation as we were in. So out of fear, our family members had to leave. There were many people who had wanted to visit us because when they found out that we were detained on Sunday night, our family members wanted to come in and visit us. But no, they did not give access to our family members to visit.
WERE YOU BEATEN FURTHER OR NOT ANYMORE?
No, not anymore.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO LEAVE THE PRISON TO RECEIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT?
At dawn on Monday, at approximately 5 am, they woke us all up. They made us get into line, they handcuffed us and then they took us onto a bus that was waiting. The bus was followed by a PFP pickup truck. We didn’t know where they were taking us because here the government very often makes people change prisons so that our families do not know exactly where we are.
So I was already on the bus when one of the guards called my name and told me to get off the bus that all of my compañeros were already on. I got off the bus and became even more afraid because feared that they were going to isolate me from the whole rest of the group or even ‘disappear’ me at that moment. Upon returning to the prison office, they told me that they were going to take me to the civil hospital along with four children who they took to the
Once I was in the hospital, I received medical attention. What they did was to perform surgery on my lower left eye socket. I was charged 7000 pesos and released on December 8th, even though I was in no condition to be released from the hospital, because I had – I still have to this date – lost all sensation on the left side of my face. I am still not completely recovered.
So once they had performed the surgery, I was released. On December 8th they released me when I was still in no condition to be released and they took me back to the Tlacolula Women’s Prison. I arrived at the prison around 9 or 10 at night and was held there for another week though I was in no condition to be there because I still ran many risks considering the surgery they had done on my eye.
CAN YOU SUMMARIZE HOW THAT WEEK WAS WHEN YOU WERE IN PRISON AGAIN? DID YOU RECEIVE MORE BEATINGS, OR WAS IT MORE OR LESS CALM?
No, they didn’t beat me any more. In the hospital they had given me some prescriptions and some medications that I had bought. I brought these to the prison infirmary and there they would give me these drops and some creams that I had been prescribed.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO GET OUT?
On December 15th, they told me at 8:30am that I was going to be conditionally released. They did not give time to speak with my lawyer or with my family. At approximately 10:30am they made me take everything out of my cell and just as I was they took me out of the prison and left me almost right on the side of the highway. From there I got back to the city of
NOBODY EVEN KNEW YOU WERE BEING RELEASED?
No one knew. I was released conditionally, meaning I was released with bail. But I didn’t even post the bail, and I don’t know who did. It may have even been the government itself. I don’t know who posted bail.
WHEN THEY RELEASED YOU DID THEY RETURN ALL OF THE THINGS THEY HAD TAKEN FROM YOU WHEN YOU WERE DETAINED – YOUR WALLET, ETC.?
No, nothing. They didn’t return anything to me. When I was there at the prison at Tlacolula I pointed out that they had not given me my belongings they had taken. They didn’t pay attention to me at all regarding the matter and to this day I have no identification.
GIVE US A LITTLE LIST OF ALL THE THINGS THEY HAVE NOT RETURNED TO YOU?
My cell phone, a camera, my driver’s license, my voter registration card, vehicle registration, and a bank card. And I was carrying money on me -about 6,000 or 7,000 pesos in my wallet – they haven’t given that back to me either.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO GET BACK HOME AGAIN – HITCH-HIKING?
Exactly. And people very nicely, seeing the condition that I was in – I was badly beaten – offered me 5 or 10 pesos so that I would be able to take a taxi from where they left me to here. And when I arrived in the city I was able to ask a woman for 50 pesos so that I could pay for a taxi. And that is how I arrived at house of some of my relatives. Once I was at my relatives’ house, I called here to talk to the priest, Father Uvi, and I called the
Human Rights League. It was that same afternoon, on December 15th, that I was able to talk to them and we held a press conference to explain everything that had happened to me.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY TAKING TO SEEK JUSTICE, REPARATIONS, AND COMPENSATION?
What we are doing right now is starting to gather all of the information to see if it is possible to take a public denunciation to the national and international press, to expose wherever possible this whole process and my being a victim of injustice. I also want to tell you at this time that I am still in medical treatment for my condition, and I am paying all of the medical bills for the treatment I am receiving.
ARE YOU AND OTHERS TRYING TO BRING LEGAL CASES AGAINST THE STATE? IF YOU ARE, DO YOU EXPECT TO ACHIEVE RESULTS THROUGH THE COURT SYSTEM?
Well, as I am not the only person who was a victim of this injustice – we are many, many people – we are working together to present a class action suit so that it will be more powerful and have greater legal weight on the state level.
WHAT HOPE DO YOU HAVE OF RECEIVING SOME FORM OF JUSTICE, REPARATIONS AND COMPENSATION EITHER IN AN INDIVIDUAL CASE OR IN A CLASS ACTION SUIT WITH OTHERS?
Really, fighting within the system here on a national level and in
DO YOU HAVE ANY FINAL COMMENTS OR OBSERVATIONS?
Well, I would simply like to say to all of the media on a state, national and international level that the system of government here in Mexico is a system that in no way works in favor of the people who are most in need, the people of the humble means. And you, being here in Oaxaca, can confirm to them that there are many Federal Preventive Police occupying the city and that’s the only way that they are able to govern – by limiting our human rights as people who live here in the city of
This testimony was filmed, conducted, translated and transcribed by Rights Action and members of the December 16-22, 2006, emergency delegation. A Spanish/ English DVD of the interview is [soon] available from:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join the 2nd Emergency-Educational Delegation to
TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS for the
UNITED STATES: Box 50887,
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: www.rightsaction.org.