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(en) MEDIA: Mexican Indigenous Declare Independence

From "Clore Daniel C" <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Sun, 9 Sep 2001 06:06:24 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug. 31— More than a dozen Mexican
indigenous communities on Friday declared independence and
announced their refusal to recognize a recently enacted
Indian rights law. 

Legal adviser Joaquin Ortega said that the communities have
signed a “declaration of communal property and autonomy” on
behalf of more than 300,000 indigenous people from more than
a dozen ethnic groups.

Ortega also announced that 60 communities in seven Mexican
states will challenge the constitutionality of the Indian
rights law before the Supreme Court on Friday. 

After Congress approved the law in April, the Zapatista
National Liberation Army (EZLN) broke off peace talks with
the government. 

Friday’s declaration of independence “is an act which
decrees the communal appropriation of land, water and
natural resources, as well as the lands surrounding Indian
villages,” Ortega said.

“In addition, (the decree) establishes the communities’
autonomy as public bodies, their solidarity for the defense
of their basic rights and a pledge to resolve land disputes
that will guarantee the unity of all Indian people,” he

According to Ortega, the Indian rights law violates an
International Labor Organization (ILO) convention, which
Mexico signed and that is constitutionally binding.

“The law suppresses the heritage rights of Indigenous people
and their capacity for self-rule,” Ortega said. 

In addition, it fails to respect “the rights of these people
to exploit their own natural resources and take part in the
governing of the nation as public bodies,” he said. 

In recent weeks, the Supreme Court has been flooded with
constitutional challenges to the law, which is titled the
Indian Rights and Culture Law. 

The challenges have come from dozens of city, state and
legislative authorities in states with the largest Indian

Source: Agencia EFE SA: http://www.efe.es

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