(en) English version LA OPINION 76, CHIAPAS

Lyn Gerry (linjin@tao.ca)
Fri, 17 Oct 1997 22:13:39 pst

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 20:32:10 -0600 To: (Recipient list suppressed) From: CIACH <ciach@laneta.apc.org> Subject: English version LA OPINION 76, CHIAPAS

LA OPINION BULLETIN NO. 76 published by the Centro de Informacion y Analisis de Chiapas, A.C. (CIACH) 15 October 1997


Political life within the country is thriving. At the national level, intense activity before the 6 July elections took place as the country voted to renew the Congress, elect the mayor of Mexico City, and hold elections for diverse posts in several Mexican states. The loss of the PRI's control (and President Zedillo's) of the Congress, Mexico City and other states threw the official party and our presidentialist system into crisis.

The defections of PRI politicians and members of the military, to join opposition parties, have created an unfavorable climate with the Party. Both the private business sector and Church officials have had harsh criticism recently for government policies, and have put salt in certain wounds by bringing up matters such as the militarization of the country, human rights, the (non) implementation of the San Andres Accords, etc.

As diverse sectors continue to loose confidence and credibility in President Zedillo's long-term plans for the country, the President turns to the use of force and coercion, given his lack of consensus and hegemony. President Zedillo even has strong opposition within the PRI, as the rank-and-file increasingly question his decisions. Business leaders have echoed criticism, as they face companies closing in droves and layoffs of workers who join the millions of unemployed, whose ranks have swelled in the past three years.

Military officials now step into the fray. Within the Mexico City police department, several government agencies and even in the national Congress, military officials are become active in order to exercise political control and demand their share of power.

The question now in the air is: who is controlling the country? Who is guiding the country and is capable of leading the vision for the future of the country? President Zedillo? The military? The PRI? Business leaders? The opposition? The Congress? The San Andres dialogue? The EZLN? Civil society and its organizations?

The San Andres dialogue between the EZLN and the federal government has been suspended since September 1996 and is at an impasse. Nonetheless neither the federal government, nor the EZLN, nor the organizations of civil society have been dormant. Quite the contrary.


Both the federal and state governments have been politically active. President Zedillo continues his political battle with the EZLN, accusing it of "intolerance" when the Zapatistas did not join in the celebrations of the "democratic festivities" at the polls, of the spendthrift disbursement of funds for supposed regional development projects, of Zedillo's jaunt to France and other countries to sell his vision for the Nation, trying to isolate the EZLN politically and mold a consensus of public opinion at home and abroad against the Zapatistas.

In Chiapas the governmental offensive has taken the form of constant attacks against the Dioceses of San Cristobal de las Casas, CONAI, the Fray Bartolomé Human Rights Center, etc. Now the State Commission on Human Rights (CEDH), with Cuauhtemoc Lopez Sanchez at the helm, has come out in favor of legislation to control the activities of NGOs. Years ago, during the governorship of Patricinio Gonzalez Garrido, Mr. Lopez was severely criticized for having drafted some of the most repressive laws in the state, and has been accused of jailing indigenous people on trumped up charges. Not surprisingly, the interests of the state are deposited in a Commission (CEDH) which it controls. But the governmental offensive doesn't stop there: the state government, together with the PRI members in the state Congress, refuse to modify biased laws that will control the 1998 elections in which 111 municipal (county) presidents are to be elected.

In addition, the state government is carrying out one aspect of the San Andres accords, i.e., consultations for the redistricting of the state, but they are doing so unilaterally, with no opposition forces present. Meanwhile, President Zedillo visits Chiapas and hands out generous funding within conflictive areas, and inaugurates the Welfare and Development Program (paraphrasing the title and content of Table 3 at San Andres, which is still awaiting agreement), in an effort to eviscerate the Zapatista demands.

Both the federal and state governments have been militarily active as well. The increase in military personnel throughout the state and in new municipalities, the presence of more personnel from the Public Security Police in communities, and the increase in activity among the paramilitary groups make the Chiapas panorama a mosaic of almost daily violence, especially against rural communities

The government's refusal to implement the Table 1 accords (Indigenous Rights and Culture), and its cornering the EZLN into a military logic through the presence of more security forces leads us to suppose that, not withstanding the EZLN's inability to compete militarily with the Mexican army, the army could be preparing for a possible offensive, awaiting word from the government, which itself is seeking favorable conditions at a political and social level, including a shift in its favor of national and international public opinion.

The federal government's implicit position is clear: 1) no to any legislative bill regarding the agreements signed at Table 1; 2) the EZLN must join the electoral process; 3) recourse to arms is obsolete; 4) the causes that originated the conflict have been solved.


The EZLN has been politically active on a number of fronts: it sent representatives to Spain for the II Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism; another delegation travelled through Italy; 1,111 Zapatistas marched on Mexico City; while there, they inaugurated the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Front for National Liberation (FZLN); the EZLN has encouraged and strengthened the regional autonomous movement and the "rebellious" municipalities, quite independently from the government's inaction on implementing the San Andres accords.

The EZLN has made its position clear: there will be no dialogue as long as the accords agreed to at Table 1 are not implemented and the indigenous regions are not demilitarized.

Given the government's and the EZLN's positions we conclude:

1. Both are active politically and militarily. 2. Both are carrying out aspects of the San Andres accords unilaterally and in a de facto manner. 3. Both have placed irreconcilable conditions for the resumption of talks. 4. Both are hoping that the other side will be worn down; the government hopes that the EZLN will implode; the EZLN hopes that a weakened presidentialist system and PRI, together with a strengthened civil society will help pave the way for a transition to democracy, liberty and justice.


During the past year we have seen many social, campesino and indigenous groups whiter away, which previously had been a social and political counterweight to the ruling groups within the state of Chiapas. Coalitions of organizations that channeled discontent and were interlocutors for social, campesino and indigenous demands were a political, civil, legal and peaceful alternative to military solutions.

Also during the past year we have seen how the paramilitary groups have grown in strength, such as Paz y Justicia in the north of Chiapas; how the Chinchulines have been resurrected, how Alianza San Bartolome de los Llanos and Mascara Roja have been supported by official funds; and how the new MIRA (Indigenous, Revolutionary, Antizapatista Movement) has come into existence. We have also seen how violence in the Northern, Altos, Central Valley and Border Zones has grown. The obvious question: Where are the civil, social and peaceful initiatives? Why do armed groups multiply but not social forces?

Two events occurred on 12 October that give us some hope: in Mexico City the National Indigenous Congress came to a close with new life. An important agreement was reached among delegates from throughout the country to send a letter to President Zedillo demanding the implementation of the San Andres accords, a move that brought support from many sectors.

In Ocosingo, Chiapas, six coalitions of campesino and urban organizations formed a new social and political front: the Coordinator of Autonomous Organizations of the State of Chiapas (COAECH). It is made up by 1) CIOAC (Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos); 2) COAO (Coalition of Autonomous Organizations of Ocosingo), made up in turn by the ARIC-Independent, ARIC-Union of Unions, CNPI (National Coordinator of Indian Peoples), and the Francisco Villa Organization; 3) CNPA (Plan de Ayala National Coordinator); 4) UMOI (Unity of the Movement of Independent Organizations), which brings together several other organizations; 5) RAP (Pluriethnic Autonomous Regions), also made up of various organizations with a presence in several municipalities in the state; and 6) the FAC-MLN (Broad Front for the Construction of a National Liberation Movement). All these coalitions have a sizable presence throughout the state. And the CIOAC, CNPA and FAC-MLN are also linked into national movements.

The COAECH, as a new social and political actor in Chiapas, defined its internal rules and plan of action, emphasizing mobilization as one of the strategies for struggle, within a single political program with four main activities: 1) Implementation of the San Andres accords, 2) Demilitarization, 3) Against paramilitarization, 4) Land reform.

Interestingly, no explicit mention was made of the electoral struggle or of a political coalition in light of the upcoming 1998 municipal elections. Also of note is the fact that, whereas in years past the campesino, indigenous and urban forces tended to coalesce around economic demands, leading to seemingly inevitable division, co-optation on the part of the government and disagreements, now the sole uniting factor is political.

The birth of a new social force within Chiapas is a hopeful sign that common strategies of the social organizations may be able to bring about change in the state.


Note: We sincerely appreciate our readers' suggestions regarding this Bulletin. If you would like to have a map of Chiapas with its municipal and electoral districts, please e-mail a request to CIACH and we will send it to you as "attached mail" in Word for Windows.

INFORMATION: CIACH is a non-governmental organization, created in 1985 with the goal of being an alternative source of training, analysis and investigation for social, campesino and indigenous organizations, NGOs, students and researchers. CIACH also has a newspaper data bank that dates from 1985 to the present, classified by topics pertinent to Chiapas. The Center also undertakes research and analysis regarding current topics in the state, it edits publications and carries out workshops on analysis and on mental health with social organizations. *********************************************************************** Dear Friends: Putting out this Bulletin on a weekly basis generates costs for CIACH. Help us ensure it will continue to reach you by sending your donation to CIACH, checking account no. 1000790-7, branch 437 of BANCOMER in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. If you make a deposit, please let us know the date and the amount. Thank you very much! ************************************************************************ NOTICE ON REPRODUCING THIS BULLETIN This La Opinion Bulletin may be reproduced by other means such as in Internet web pages or in printed matter, as long as the source and our e-mail address are cited. __________________________________________________________ Centro de Información y Análisis de Chiapas, A.C. (CIACH) Flavio A. Paniagua 107 Barrio de Guadalupe 29230 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, MEXICO

Tel/Fax: en México 01 967 86581 fuera de México +52 967 86581 Correo-e: ciach@laneta.apc.org ___________________________________________________________

****** A-Infos News Service ***** News about and of interest to anarchists

Subscribe -> email MAJORDOMO@TAO.CA with the message SUBSCRIBE A-INFOS Info -> http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ Reproduce -> please include this section