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Fri, 09 May 1997 11:15:10 +0000

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1. The fujimorazo: an international blow to the path of dialogue and negotiation, says Marcos

2. Pedro Joaquen Coldwell replaces Marco Antonio Bernal as chief government negotiator

3. Caravan of displaced families from the Northern Zone arrives in Tuxtla

4. COAO denounces continuing intimidation, detentions in Ocosingo; More violence in Sabanilla __________________________________

The fujimorazo in Peru: An International Blow to the Path of Dialogue and Neogtiation, says Marcos

In a short communique dated April 25th and published on April 30th in Mexican newspapers, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos directed his attention to the events in Lima, Peru, where last week 14 Tupac Amaru rebels, two soldiers, and a hostage were killed during a brutal military operation effected by the Peruvian government:

"For months," said Marcos, "the Peruvian government pretended to be negotiating toward a peaceful solution. In reality, it was only looking for the right moment to strike. This is characteristic of the Power and its neoliberal governments; they pretend to be talking and negotiating, while in reality they are only looking for the opportunity to exercise their violence.

"This new, sad episode for Latin America is an international blow against the path of dialogue and negotiation as a form of conflict resolution....And to think that there are those who say we should wait, not for an attack, but for the carrying out of the Accords signed by the government!"

\ Marcos' letter regarding Peru was also accompanied by a much longer letter addressed to Fidel Velazquez, leader of the Mexican Workers' Confederation (CTM) since 1946 and "moribund image of the Mexican political system" (as he is described by Marcos), on the occasion of the labor leader's 97th birthday and the upcoming celebrations of International Worker's Day (May 1st).

In the letter, replete with quotations from the late Mexican anarcho-syndicalist leader Ricardo Flores Magen, Marcos passes through nearly 100 years of the workers' struggle in Mexico (the last fifty of which were marked by the repression of Velazquez and the CTM): "It is said that you are now 97 years old, that you were born with the 20th Century....", writes Marcos. "They are not few, the things you have seen and heard: the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, the murders of my Generals Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa, the Constitutional Convention of 1917, the birth of what would later, today, become organized crime in the form of a political party, that of the Institutional Revolution, and the beginning of official control over the labor movement....

"Mr. Velazquez, how many attempts to rebel against that absurd history which is the Party of State did not pass before your eyes? How many repressions and treasons against those movements did you participate in directly? How many times did you order, in the course of your half-century as leader of the CTM, the beatings, the kidnappings, and the assassinations of those workers who wanted democracy, liberty, and justice?"

The EZLN's spokesperson then goes on to inform Don Fidel of the contemporary situation facing workers in Mexico: "The basic [living] products necessary for one day, which in 1987 were bought with 8 hours and 36 minutes of a day's work, in the month of January of 1997 required 25 hours and 13 minutes of labor. Perhaps you don't remember, Mr. Velazquez, but there are only 24 hours in a day (even with Daylight Savings Time). Since the political system which you represent has been capable of everything, except changing the length of a day, that means that workers today, if they are still employed, must live with less than one-third of the necessary products for subsistance.... "You will forgive me for not being quite sure, but there are between 7 and 9 million workers [in Mexico] affiliated with some 16 thousand unions. Of those workers, nearly all of them (93.6 percent) are part of the Congress of Labor, that giant machine of worker control and repression which you know well, better than anyone else. All this leaves between 16 and 18 million workers without union organization, and more than 9 million workers unemployed or with temporary occupations. Their living and working conditions? Bad, very bad...." Marcos concludes his letter with a reference to the rumors of the labor leader's impending demise: "That gray part of our history as a Nation, that which you and your cohorts protagonized with crime and injustice, is coming to an end. It will not be your death, Mr. Velazquez, which brings it to a final close, but rather that of a new alternative which, regardless, will be born over your ruins. "Your reign is soon to be ended. We will struggle so that what follows is not a new caste, but rather that which is called democracy, liberty, and justice. Your part in history is over....Vale. In spite of it all, health to you. And may history accomodate you all in the place you deserve: that is, in shame and oblivion." _____________________________


On April 27th, the Mexican government officially named Pedro Joaquen Coldwell, a veteran ruling-party politician, as the new chief government negotiator for peace talks with the EZLN. Coldwell, who has previously served as governor of the state of Quintana Roo, minister of tourism, and Secretary- General of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), replaces Marco Antonio Bernal as the head of the government's negotiating team in San Andres. Bernal quit the post earlier this year to run for a national senatorial seat on behalf of the PRI in the upcoming July elections.

Upon naming Joaquen Coldwell to the post, Interior Minister Emilio Chuayffet Chemor said, "The federal government wants the same thing that all Mexicans want in Chiapas: a dialogue with which to achieve a dignified peace with justice", and added that Joaquen Coldwell "possesses all of those attributes...and the political experience with which to achieve that objective". Reaction to the new chief negotiator has so far been mixed. The National Intermediation Commission (CONAI) suggested it is hopeful that Pedro Joaquen will be given a "greater decision-making capacity, in order to carry forward some fundamental and necessary changes with which to restart the peace process", and announced that a delegation of the CONAI would seek a meeting with the new official early this week.

Representatives of the right-wing National Action Party, for their part, signalled that naming a veteran PRI politician to a top government negotiating job could put the peace process in Chiapas at even greater risk, since Joaquen Coldwell would supposedly be functioning as a de-facto representative of the PRI, rather than a nonpartisan negotiator representing the government as a whole. Members of the Commission on Concordance and Pacification (Cocopa), meanwhile, insisted that the naming of a new government negotiator is worthless if it does not lead to a committment on the part of the government to accept the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture.

In related news, the Cocopa on April 28th officially announced the integration of two new members into the legislative body. PRD Senator Hector Sanchez was named as the replacement for Senator Heberto Castillo, also of the PRD, who passed away three weeks ago; and PRD deputy Magno Garcimarrero was named as the replacement for Guillermo del Reo Ortegen, who was expelled from the PRD (and thus from his position representing the PRD in the Cocopa) following an internal party dispute over the upcoming elections in the state of Campeche. _______________________________

DISPLACED CIVILIAN ZAPATISTAS MARCH TO TUXTLA On April 28th, some 300 Chol representatives of exiled communities in the turbulent northern zone of Chiapas arrived in the state capitol of Tuxtla Gutierrez to begin an indefinite campaign of peaceful civil resistance until their demands--including that of being able to return to their communities--are met.

The "Caravan-March for Peace with Justice and Dignity, Wejlel" left the northern municipality of Salto de Agua early last week, holding rallies in Ocosingo and San Cristebal as it approached Tuxtla. Those participating in the march represent members of communities in Tila, Sabanilla, Tumbala, and Salto de Agua who have been forced into exile by the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia for their relationship with the PRD opposition party or the EZLN. The fact that the marchers were able to leave the northern zone to travel to Tuxtla is considered a worthy feat in itself, since the constitutional right of free transit does not exist in the north of Chiapas.

"We have named our march 'the long journey of pain and hope'", said one of the Chol representatives, "and we call it Wejlel, which means free courage. We have now broken the siege, and we are going to keep at it; our stay [in Tuxtla] will depend on the response of the government. It will decide whether we call off the campaign, or if we send commissions to incorporate other companeros into our struggle, because we would prefer to die in front of them [the government] rather than continue living in fear, like animals in the mountains". The demands of the marchers include a guarantee from the government that the nearly 5,000 PRD supporters and civilian Zapatistas in the northern region be allowed to return to their homes; the nullification of arrest warrants against their community leaders; the immediate liberation of their companeros unjustly held in the Cerro Hueco state prison; and the acceptance on the part of the federal government of the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture.



The Coalition of Autonomous Organizations of Ocosingo (COAO) on April 25th denounced what appears to be an intimidation campaign carried out by the Mexican army against communities in that muncipality which sympathize with the EZLN, as well as the apparent detention last week of seven residents of the Nueva Veracruz ejido.

The COAO, which is made up of six indigenous-campesino organizations in the region, called on the army to "stop its military exercises", which include weapons training and shooting practice within earshot of the communities of Jerusalen and San Juanito, as well as the immediate release of the seven indigenous prisoners.

In the last six months, more than a dozen communities within the so-called "conflict zone" of Chiapas have issued formal complaints regarding the actions of the Mexican army, ranging from the rapid logging being carried out by soldiers in the area, to the army's "takeover" of land belonging to villages made up of EZLN sympathizers; violent detentions; shooting in the air; and military incursions into the communities themselves.

Meanwhile, in the municipality of Sabanilla, unconfirmed reports have circulated about a possible "battle" between Public Security forces and displaced Choles near the communities of Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

According to police reports, one policeman and one of the campesinos were killed in the brief fighting on the morning of April 25th, while several others were wounded and one campesino detained by police. The police, as usual, have qualified the fighting as an "ambush" against members of the Public Security forces on the part of "delinquents"; other sources, however, suggest that the fighting broke out when the police attempted to stop a group of campesinos from joining the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by indigenous peoples from the northern zone of Chiapas who had been expelled from their communities by police and paramilitary groups.

_________________________ Primary sources for all news articles: La Jornada, Proceso, El Financiero, and La Crenica. The primary responsibility for the content of this news page lies with its author, Joshua Paulson, and not necessarily with the Special Commission for the Promotion of the FZLN. ___________________________

A service 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:


Please send comments to: joshua@peak.org


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