On March 26, 2006, a group of federal police belonging to the now-extinct Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) of the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) arrived in the community of Santiago Mexquititlán in the municipality of Amealco, Querétaro state. Without identifying themselves as state agents, they began to extort street vendors, who took them for criminals and gathered around to demand an end to these abuses. When the AFI agents’ superiors arrived, they promised to pay the vendors for the damages done by the agents.
Months later, federal agents arrested three innocent indigenous women – Jacinta Francisco Marcial, Alberta Alcántara Juan, and Teresa González Cornelio – for the supposed crime of having kidnapped six AFI agents on the day described above. This fabricated accusation had one purpose: to seek revenge on the indigenous community for not having let the agents get away with their abuses against the population.
After two years of delays, during which the federal agents did not show up at trial, the three indigenous women were sentenced to 21 years in prison by the Fourth District Judge in the city of Querétaro, in a case that exemplifies criminalization for being poor, indigenous, and female – three factors that add to any defendant’s already precarious situation. Since then, Center Prodh has defended the case, obtaining the liberation of the three women. Alberta and Teresa regained their freedom in April 2010 through a judgment of the First Chamber of the Supreme Court.
In order to seek reparations for their unjust imprisonment, Alberta and Teresa sued the PGR for damages. After years of litigation, on November 20, 2013, the Federal Tribunal of Fiscal and Administrative Justice (TFJFA) resolved the case and confirmed that diverse members of the PGR had acted illegally when they fabricated criminal charges against the women, causing moral and economic damages for the years of unjust imprisonment. Thus, the TFJFA ordered the PGR to indemnify the women and to apologize publicly to them, acknowledging their innocence.
However, on January 31, 2014, the Director of Juridical Affairs of the PGR appealed the judgment. The PGR has requested that the Supreme Court resolve the appeal, causing yet another delay in access to justice for the women.