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A different justice for indigenous people in Mexico

Dennis A. García| El Universal
10:59Monday 13 April 2015

Before being imprisoned Pablo Huachina worked as a mason, and earned between US$3 and US$9 a day. (Photo: Special )

So far in this administration the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples has helped release 2,773 indigenous people who were unfairly imprisoned.

Pablo Huacachina Posadas, a native from Cuahuximaloyan who speaks Náhuatl, is one of the 2,773 stories of injustice that have ended up in prison for stealing an avocado, transporting timber or being accused of theft by their employers. 

However, they are now free with the support of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI). 

On March 16, 2012, the 51-year-old indigenous man was carrying oak firewood in his truck to support the Assistant President of Huahuaxtla, as requested by the Magistrate of Carreragco, municipality of Tetela de Ocampo. 

When he was driving on the road between Talcozama and El Arenal, in Zacapoaxtla, he was arrested by state police and accused of crimes against the ecology for transporting timber. 

Since that day, his life and the life of his family changed completely. 

"I met many people who shouldn't be in prison," said Huachina to EL UNIVERSAL about the two months he spent in jail. 

"Sometimes all I ate was two tortillas, beans and a little salt. That was all. Since I was the last one to arrive, I had to eat what was left," he explained. 

Before being imprisoned Huachina worked as a mason, and earned between 50 and 150 pesos (US$3 to 9) a day. 

"The first nights in prison I cried, because I felt I was never going to leave. I had no moral support, neither money... I was devastated," he added. 

Although he left prison on May 1, 2012, there was an appeal, so he was on parole for a year and a half, which cost him 600 pesos (US$40) every 15 days to go to court to sign. Therefore, he was left with no money to support his wife María and his children Pablo, Giovanni and Jesús. 

His fate changed when the CDI supported him to open a hardware store. 

Huacachina finished the interview saying: "justice for indigenous people is very different." 

So far in this administration the CDI has released 2,773 indigenous people who stayed between 50 days and over three years behind bars out of a total of 8,558. 

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL Nuvia Mayorga Delgado, director of the CDI, said the goal of the six-year plan is to assist 70% of the indigenous population in prison, and added  that the other 30% can not be assisted because they are facing legal processes or have been convicted of a federal crime.

"We pay the bail and assist detainees with the help 193 indigenous lawyers and 180 translators" distributed in 24 delegations throughout the country, Mayorga explained. 

She added that they expect to release a little over 1,000 indigenous people this year. The CDI has a budget of 80,000 pesos (US$5,230) for each case. 

Once released, the CDI helps them with a productive project so that they can make a living. 

According to the CDI in 2013 there were 1,460 indigenous people in prison in Oaxaca, 1,082 in Chiapas, 998 in Puebla, 735 in Veracruz, 520 in Mexico City and 418 in Chihuahua.