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(en) Mexico, Media: Farmers Want Town Autonomous

From Tom Wheeler <twbounds@pop.mail.rcn.net>
Date Sun, 4 Aug 2002 01:53:00 -0400 (EDT)


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MEXICO CITY (AP) - The leader of a Mexican peasant group that thwarted
government plans to build an airport on their land pledged to create an
autonomous government in the area's main town.

Ignacio Del Valle wants to turn Atenco into a self-governed town, apparently
similar to ones created by the Zapatista rebels in the southern state of
Chiapas following a 1994 uprising.

"The people of Atenco will be the ones to decide how they want to organize
themselves, and it should be an autonomous council," Del Valle told a crowd
gathered in Atenco's main square, the newspaper La Jornada reported.

The crowd cheered and waved machetes, but it was unclear if the proposal had
been formally accepted under the rules with which protest leaders have
governed Atenco since October, when they ran the mayor out for agreeing to
negotiate on the airport project.

The pledge came after the federal government agreed to cancel a planned
$2.3-billion airport that would have required buying some of their land. The
airport would have used most of the fields outside the town as buffer zones
but would have left the town untouched.

The autonomous areas in Chiapas refuse to recognize state or federal
authority. They are ruled by voice-vote assemblies instead of elections, and
enforce their own rough form of justice.

Atenco would be the first such rebel government outside Chiapas, where the
rebel townships are not eligible - or often refuse - any kind of federal aid
or public works projects.

But Del Valle also said the protesters wanted special federal or state farm
aid for the town.

The protests against the airport were backed by hundreds of Zapatista
supporters, leftist and anarchist groups, and anti-globalization activists.

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