Thursday, August 2, 2012

José Isabel "Chavelo" Morales Sentenced to Twenty Years

Chavelo Morales, political prisoner and campesino activist, member of the Guadalupe Carney community in the Aguan Valley was sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 24 without he or his lawyers being notified that the sentencing was scheduled. Chavelo has been in  prison since 2008, he was convicted despite a lack of any evidence against him, of homicide related to a confrontation that occurred after private armed guards attacked the Guadalupe Carney community in August, 2008. He was held for nearly 3 years without sentencing which also kept him in legal limbo since no appeal of the conviction could be filed until sentencing. More than 30 campesinos from the community have open arrest warrants related to the 2008 events based on no evidence other than their residence in the community. One of the campesinos, Genaro Reyes, was arrested last month by police in Tocoa and is awaiting court procedures under house arrest. The harshness of Chavelo's sentence and the continued pressure on community members reflects the fact that Chavelo and the community of Guadalupe Carney are   symbols of the organized campesinos in Aguan. The big landowners and agro-oligarchs have used all their influence to keep Chavelo imprisoned to limit his access to legal remedies and to intimidate community members. 

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