Cancun – A Mexican woman who was exonerated of charges of pandering and corruption of minors after having been imprisoned for three years demanded that authorities provide dignified and fair treatment to Mayan Indians, saying she was harassed by police while behind bars and witnessed many other cases of injustice.
Hours after she was released, Basilia Ucan Nah gave a press conference with the help of an interpreter since she is not proficient in Spanish.
Ucan Nah, who was accompanied by her 10-year-old daughter, said her rights were never respected during her time in prison in the southeastern town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo state, and that she was a victim of sexual harassment, including by police.
Cops "often went to see me in prison and asked me to have sex with them. They told me that with that money I could pay to be set free," the woman said through her interpreter.
"There are no divisions at the Carrillo Puerto prison. Women and men are together. I was always afraid and at night even more so because there were times I was alone with more than 100 men," she said.
Ucan Nah urged the governor of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge, to ensure protection for female Mayan Indians who, like her, are victims of the judicial system and lack the money and opportunity to defend themselves.
Accompanied by attorneys Jaqueline Saenz, of the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center, and Jorge Fernandez, of the Indignation Team, Ucan Nah spoke of the abuse and fear she felt every day while incarcerated.
In March, her attorneys appealed to the Superior Court of Justice of Quintana Roo, arguing that there were sufficient irregularities in the case to justify overturning the conviction handed down by a lower court.
Ucan Nah is a native of a community near Felipe Carrillo Puerto known as Yoactun, a predominantly indigenous area of Quintana Roo where nearly 70 percent of the people speak Mayan as their first language.
Basilia had no access to an interpreter during her initial trial and was not represented by a public defender, as is required by law. She was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Now that Ucan Nah's innocence has been demonstrated, local authorities now are required to investigate how her case was handled, Fernandez said.