Fernando is one of 7 Mazatec people who remain in prison under false accusations. It is believed they were targeted for defending autonomous Indigenous governance of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca against cacíques and political parties. Supporters believe that the reason for the imprisonment of people from Eloxochitlán is that they have been an example of social struggle and organization in the indigenous communities.
On December 14, 2014, dozens of indigenous Mazatec people were arrested and criminalized for defending the community’s way of choosing their representatives and for fighting against the imposition of political parties in Eloxochitlán, as well as for publicly denouncing the abuses of power of strongman Manuel Zepeda Cortés, his family, and his supporters. Zepeda was mayor from 2011 to 2013 and was the first to try to campaign using the methods of political parties. The prisoners were accused of the murder of a person “during an attack carried out by the Zepeda family in 2014, while the community assembly was meeting to select their traditional authorities.” Since 2014, the community has managed to free 20 of them and document numerous legal inconsistencies in the case.
In 2015, a federal authority in the first district court of the thirteenth circuit—an auxiliary court of Xalapa, Veracruz—ruled on the appeal, 311/ 2015, that there exists no evidence which proves the responsibility of the persons accused in the legal file 02/2015. With this ruling, eighteen resolutions have been achieved in favor of the compañeros and compañeras who were falsely accused. However, Alfredo Bolaños Pacheco and Francisco Duran Ortiz, in spite of all the evidence, remain accused of aggravated homicide against Manuel Zepeda Lagunas. Herminio Monfil Avendaño, Fernando Gavito Martinez and Jaime Betanzos Fuentes were released, but at the moment of obtaining their freedom, another arrest warrant was carried out against them for attempted homicide against Elisa Zepeda Lagunas. This re-arrest was carried out in a fraudulent manner, clearly an exercise of abusive political power. Again, they are in pretrial detention in spite of the complete lack of evidence. The Oaxaca Court of Justice and the judge of the fourth district in that city, Pedro Guerrero Trejo, denied the remaining prisoners' freedom in 2020 and in early 2021 so he remains held without a verdict or sentence.