Wrongfully Jailed Women Speak Out On Police Abuses In Mexico

Feb 23, 2017
Originally published on February 23, 2017 8:50 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Mexico this week, a rare public event took place. Federal officials apologized to three indigenous women and declared them innocent of crimes for which they served more than three years in jail. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, the women took advantage of the public forum to speak out against corruption and police abuse in Mexico.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The three women were arrested in their village in central Mexico and accused of kidnapping six federal agents in 2006. They were tried and sentenced to 21 years in prison. All served more than three years before being released. This week, under court order, Mexico's attorney general, Raul Cervantes, publicly apologized to them.

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RAUL CERVANTES ANDRADE: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "This is a public apology," he said, "for the women who had been subjected to a penal process for a crime they did not commit." Jacinta Francisco Marcial, who spent nearly four years behind bars, wasn't in an accepting mood. She said she would only be satisfied when injustice ends in Mexico. Her daughter, Estela Hernandez Jimenez, gave a lengthy defiant speech in her native indigenous language, then in Spanish. The repression, she said, must end.

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ESTELA HERNANDEZ JIMENEZ: (Foreign language spoken).

KAHN: "Today, it is clear that to be poor, a woman and an indigenous person is nothing to be ashamed of. What is shameful," she said, "are the ignorant authorities we have here." Human rights activists say prosecutors fabricated evidence in the case. And the women were denied proper legal assistance and translators. Spanish was not their native language.

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HERNANDEZ: (Foreign language spoken).

KAHN: Hernandez said, "officials here are corrupt and sellouts. And we do not thank them. We demand that if they are not going to do their jobs, then they should resign." Not one public official has been charged with falsely accusing and imprisoning the three women. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.