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Tue, 18 Mar 1997 02:13:54 GMT

*ZAPATISMO NEWS UPDATE* Sender: a-infos-request@tao.ca Precedence: list Reply-To: a-infos-d@tao.ca

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A service of the International Commission of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation.

More information regarding the FZLN and the Zapatista struggle in Mexico can be found at: http://www.peak.org/~joshua/fzln (English) http://spin.com.mx/~floresu/FZLN (Spanish)

This and previous news updates can also be found at: "http://www.peak.org/~joshua/fzln/news.html"

Please send comments to: joshua@peak.org


SPECIAL NEWS UPDATE for MARCH 2-15, 1997 1. Cocopa seeks "another alternative"; EZLN responds 2. Jesuits, Xi'Nich leaders detained, tortured, and released 3. More violence rocks northern Chiapas; Zapatistas reported killed 4. Thousands of Zapatista women demonstrate on International Women's Day ____________________________________________________________________ Cocopa seeks "another alternative"; EZLN responds

It took more than 50 days, but the Commission on Concordance and Pacification (Cocopa) has finally issued its "public position" regarding the crisis of the San Andres Accords, which has intensified since January when the Mexican government implicitly refused to support the constitutional reform proposal drafted by the Cocopa in order to implement the agreements signed between the EZLN and the federal government in February, 1996 on Indigenous Rights and Culture. The Cocopa's proposal was accepted by the EZLN more than three months ago; the government rejected it, however (after having initially signalled its acceptance), and in late December sent a counter-proposal to the Cocopa and the EZLN, which seemed to be an attempt to ignore the San Andres Accords completely and restart the negotiations from scratch. The EZLN flatly rejected the government's counterproposal, as was to be expected, and declared in mid-January that they would "not make any further decisions" until knowing the "public position" of the Cocopa regarding the government's obstinate refusal to accept the San Andres Accords, and the crisis which has since resulted. Now the Cocopa has responded, but their public position--made on March 4th--seems to only confuse matters, and may indeed make matters worse, as it appears to many observers as a near-capitulation to the government. The following, in its entirety, is the statement of the Commission on Concordance and Pacification (Cocopa), as read by its spokesperson, Jaime Martinez Veloz, during a press conference held in Mexico City on March 4th, 1997: "At all times, the actions of the Cocopa have been undertaken with the higher interest of obtaining an Agreement of Concordance and Pacification with Justice and Dignity which would solve the underlying problems that lead to the armed conflict in the state of Chiapas, begun on January 1st, 1994. "The Cocopa, by law, is mandated to facilitate the peace process, without substituting itself for the parts in the negotiations. "The Cocopa, based on the considerations mentioned below, sustains its proposal of constitutional reforms on indigenous matters dated November 29th, 1996, which is the result of an honest and serious effort by all of its members to reconcile the differences between the sides. "The Cocopa, in order to reach an impartial, reasoned, and public position, has met with independent specialists, with experts on constitutional law consulted by the federal government, and with advisors of the EZLN. The majority of these considered that the constitutional reform proposal gathers the essence of the San Andres Accords, but believe the wording of the text is perfectible, for which they suggested that changes of a juridical-technical nature be made so as to avoid imprecisions or confusions about its scope, interpretation, or content. "Taking into account the fact that the procedure implemented by the Cocopa did not reach its objective of having the two sides accept the proposed text, this Commission believes that it can reach consensus with the EZLN and the federal government on another alternative for the resolution of the current differences and the reestablishment of the dialogue and negotiation between the parts, in accordance with the Law for Dialogue, Reconciliation, and a Just Peace in Chiapas. "The Cocopa believes that to unilaterally send the original proposal as an initiative to the Congress of the Union is an option which would not have viability for legislative approval. "Finally, the Cocopa, having contributed toward the resolution of the conditions layed out by the EZLN for the resumption of the dialogue and negotiations, exhorts the government and the EZLN to resolve the situation in which the peace process is embroiled, and asks for a meeting with each of the parts so as to find alternative solutions, including, among others, the reconstruction of direct dialogue between the parts." The Cocopa's statement was quickly criticized by members of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN) and ex-advisors to the EZLN as "contradictory", "ambiguous", and "practically a capitulation" to the government. This is indicated by the Cocopa's apparent decision to "sustain" their original proposal--but also to withdraw it from consideration in the legislature, and to suggest that the government's objections to it are of a "technical" nature, rather than a political one. The federal government, on the other hand, seemed rather pleased with the statement. After months of doing everything possible to condemn the work of the Cocopa, on March 8th government spokesperson Dionisio Perez Jacome lauded the "great political work" of the legislative commission, and stated the government's eagerness to meet with the Cocopa as soon as possible. "I understand that the Cocopa will present us with a proposal or various alternative proposals of which, of course, we have a great interest in commenting on and supporting as much as possible", he said. Individual members of the Cocopa (Heberto Castillo, Jaime Martinez Veloz, Juan Roque Flores, and Jose Narro Cespedes) have meanwhile made statements suggesting that the only possible solution to the crisis is a new direct dialogue between the EZLN and the federal government, without any intemediaries. It is unclear whether they were suggesting the elimination of the Conai (National Intermediating Commission, chaired by Bishop Samuel Ruiz) and the Cocopa for this to take place; nor is it clear if they were suggesting that the five "minimum conditions necessary for a resumption of the dialogue" layed out by the EZLN last September are no longer valid in the eyes of the Cocopa. RESPONSE OF THE EZLN The EZLN made public its response to the Cocopa's statement in a letter published in Mexico City newspapers on March 14th. Dated March 9th and signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, the letter recounts the history of the current crisis (perhaps to refresh the legislators' memories), and reiterates that the EZLN will not negotiate with the federal government as long as the minimum conditions are not met for insuring that the peace process will develop in an atmosphere of seriousness, justice, and dignity. Because of its importance, large excerpts of the EZLN's response are included below: "Your letter is plagued with imprecision, omissions, and half-truths. (...) "What's more, your letter omits the principal question: What is your position with regards to the counterproposal of the federal government? Perhaps it would be worthwhile to know it now, when you have been practically shoved to one side of the process by the federal government. "Your public letter says that you sustain the proposal of November 29th, 1996. But the considerations that you make contradict that statement, because not only do you not carry it forward, you propose to reopen the negotiations. No? Alright, it's true, you don't propose to reopen the negotiations. In reality you propose to start everything over from scratch, that we pretend nothing has happened, as if there has not been war and dialogue and negotiation and treason and harassment and persecution and lies and tricks and blackmail and racism and etcetera. You propose that we go backwards. How far back? All the way to the treason of February 9th, 1995? "You claim that the majority of those consulted believe the text is 'perfectible', that the problem is to 'avoid imprecisions or confusions about its scope, interpretation, or content' (point 4 of your letter). But that's not the case: the public debates have shown that. The majority of those who have made declarations on the subject insist that the problem is political and that it is articulated in terms of one of the three avenues of the government's strategy (that is, if they have a strategy) for the EZLN: a) Not to recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples, b) Not to implement the signed agreements, c) Not to resolve the conflict via peaceful means. "You point out that 'the procedure implemented by the Cocopa did not reach its objective of having the two sides accept the proposed text' (point 5 of your letter). The truth is that the parts did accept the text proposed by the Cocopa, but one of them (the federal government) took back its word, using the alcoholism of the Interior Minister as an excuse. (...) "In your letter, you forget that it is one of the parts, the federal government, which has refused to fulfill that which it signed and, therefore, is making the continuation of the peace process impossible. The Cocopa asks for a meeting, trying to forget that the military conditions have changed, that the persecution against the leadership of the EZLN has increased (details: new military positions which close the tactical circle around the zone of the Aguascalientes of La Realidad; an increase in harassment; large artillery-laden land columns (three times greater in number and three times more frequent) along the route of La Realidad; constant nighttime air patrols; the unmasked alliance of guardias blancas and police in the north of Chiapas; an increase in violent expulsions of campesinos; specialized units of the Army collecting data and looking for the Zapatista leadership; an increase in the number of desertions in the federal ranks based on the certainty of an imminent government offensive), and that confidence has suffered a mortal blow. (...) "You have delayed almost two months before stating your position faced with the government's refusal to carry out the San Andres Accords. You don't respond until now, when the last rains disappear from the jungle, when the government forces have the best climatological conditions for a military attack. (...) "Gentlemen legislators, perhaps you suppose that your position will untangle the dialogue and will make the reinitiation of the peace process possible. You are wrong. This does not untangle the dialogue; it puts it on its final limits before rupture. (...) "We, the indigenous and mestizos of the EZLN, want to be a part of Mexico, of a free, sovereign, and independent country. That is not the Mexico of today, but we will transform it; we will not fragment it. "But that is another issue. We now return to your letter and the crisis of the dialogue. "This is the summary of the situation, gentlemen legislators: "--A constitutional reform was agreed upon. It wasn't carried out. "--It was agreed that the Cocopa would prepare it. It wasn't carried out. "--The acceptance of the Cocopa's proposal was agreed upon. It wasn't carried out. "--It was agreed that the Cocopa would not accept counterproposals, only positions regarding its document. It wasn't carried out. "In none of these cases is the EZLN the one which didn't carry them out. (...) "You say you are looking for alternatives for a solution, 'including, among others, the reconstruction of direct dialogue between the parts' (point 7 of your letter). This attempt to wash one's hands of the National Intermediation Commission, old governmental obsession which you are now echoing--is that one of the characteristics of the neutrality of the Cocopa? Does it have to do with the arrests in Palenque of the two priests of the Diocese of San Cristobal? Is it necessary to burn the houses of poor indigenous families, provoke battles, have policemen kill other policemen, plant little pistols on peaceful priests and repeat like a parrot the lie that 'no one is above the law', all to free oneself from the mediation? All this to accompany the request of the Cocopa to reconstruct the 'direct dialogue between the parts?' "The government says once again that it wants to dialogue. What are we going to talk about? Who or what guarantees that this sad history of deception against indigenous Mexicans will not be repeated time and time again? What is that which will be agreed upon now and not carried out tomorrow? Are we going to risk everything so that everything stays the same? Are we going to allow them to commit treason against us again? Is the government going to try to deceive Mexico and the world one more time by pretending it wants a dialogue and a political solution? "No, the government does not want dialogue. It zealously searches for reasons and arguments that permit it to use a greater amount of force. "Let them do it, let them begin the war again, let them try and see if time will defeat us; let them attempt murder, let them reiterate deceptions and lies, let them distribute all the money they want to the media, let them close mouths and pages, let them lie with social programs which only enrichen the gang of thieves of Ruiz Ferro, Eraclio Zepeda and the band which accompanies them, let them lie, let them forget, let them kill. "Go for it, here we are. We will not let ourselves be deceived, we will not surrender, we will fight, we will die if it is necessary; but there will be democracy, liberty and justice for the indigenous peoples and for all Mexicans. "Gentlemen legislators: "The government's bet is clear, but if they think that misery and political pressure will make us surrender, they are wrong. "If they think that our 'low popularity in public opinion' worries us and will oblige us to accept anything in order to not lose press coverage, they are wrong. "If they think that the fear of death and destruction will oblige us to undertake a sterile dialogue full of lies, they are wrong. "We don't have a political position to watch out for, nor a popularity index to maintain, nor a percentage in the polls to raise, nor an elected post to win, nor a rotting political system to try and save. "We don't have anything, only our dignity. "Someone has to say 'enough!', someone has to have honor, someone has to have a voice, someone has to be consequent. "We, it is understood, have nothing to lose, and therefore we repeat to you, to the government, to the political parties, to Mexico, to the world: !Ya Basta!; and we reiterate our honor, word, and consequence. "We will not dialogue with the federal government as long as the minimum conditions are not carried out which would make something serious, just, and dignified out of the peace process. "Vale. Health, and may the continuing headache serve, as everything, to give birth to the future...." The Cocopa has so far responded only briefly to the criticisms of the EZLN, saying it has not given up its attempts to arrive at a peace with justice and dignity in Chiapas, and that it will continue to seek a meeting with the CCRI-CG of the EZLN as soon as possible. Other organizations have also responded to the recent statements of the Cocopa and the EZLN. The Secretary General of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Jesus Ortega, stated on February 14th that the Cocopa should retract its decision to withdraw its constitutional reform proposal from consideration in the Congress, since "its approval [by the legislature] is the only possible solution" to the current crisis. The Mexican Academy of Human Rights (AMDH), meanwhile, backed up the statements of Subcomandante Marcos, affirming that after more than a thousand hours of dialogue between the government, the Cocopa, and the EZLN, the government has "boycotted" any serious attempt for reaching a just peace in Chiapas which would be favorable to the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center (CDHFFV), for its part, commented that the EZLN has been more than patient in looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict by way of dialogue and negotiation, but that the government seems to be simply using that dialogue in order to buy time, waiting for the Zapatista's popular support to wane. "[The government] is hoping to eliminate the Zapatista movement by way of the electoral process this year", says the human rights group, "taking advantage of the political distractions so that their actions go unnoticed. We believe that they are wrong, because the organizations that have backed up the pacifist posture of the EZLN are watching all of this very closely". _________________________________________________________________


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