US-Mex Treaty Flops

A typed “communique” received by alternative publications in the southwest calling on underground groups and Vietnam vets to launch armed attacks and other actions against Mexican jails, according to Zodiac News Service.

The two-page letter—a copy of which was received in February by The Austin Sun accuses Mexican and American government officials of deliberately dragging their heels in adopting an exchange treaty that would send Americans imprisoned in Mexico back to U.S. jails.

The communique charges that hundreds of Americans, most of them jailed on minor drug charges, continue to have their civil rights violated in prisons; it says that several continue to complain about instances of being tortured by cattle prods and other such devices.

The letter urges American war vets, revolutionaries and even political kidnappers to organize and carry out their own acts of sabotage against various prisons south of the border. It says that the successful armed break-out action by Americans at the Piedras Negras jail last April should, be repeated throughout Mexico.

US-Mex Treaty Flops

The U.S. State Department has acknowledged that “things look pretty grim” for over 600 Americans currently rotting in Mexican jails on a variety of charges that range from driving without auto insurance to possession of marijuana.

The pessimism is being expressed because of the Mexican government’s failure to ratify the prisoner exchange treaty drafted jointly by the two nations at the end of 1976.

The Mexican Senate went into an eight month recess last January. The treaty if adopted would have resulted in the immediate return of the Americans, who would reportedly serve out the remainder of their prison terms in U.S. prisons and jails.

Professor Detlev Vagts, a State Department counselor on international law who helped draft the treaty, says that legal problems may have developed involving Mexico’s constitution. Vagts says the terms of the treaty require individual Mexican states to approve amendments in the national constitution.

Because no state has yet acted independently on ratifying the treaty, Vagts says it is highly improbable that any treaty action can be taken during the Mexican Senate recess.

Prior to the recess, approximately 300 U.S. prisoners began their second hunger strike of 1976 protesting inhumane treatment and delays in obtaining bail and return to the U.S.

“They think they have been betrayed,” said one woman after visiting inmates in the Santa Marta jail. “Some of them have lost 10 or 15 pounds. They look very sick.”