(en) 10,000 ZAPATISTAS MARCHED Nov 30

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 15:36:48 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 13:23:33 -0800 (PST) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: 10,000 ZAPATISTAS MARCHED Nov 30 (fwd)

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A march of 10,000 Indians in southern Mexico in support of Zapatista guerrillas demonstrated that rebel support is not wavering, a leading indigenous activist said on Sunday.

Andres Aubry told reporters here in this colonial city of the troubled state of Chiapas that the march on Saturday was meant to underscore that the Zapatistas and their sympathizers had not abandoned their struggle for more rights.

``The Zapatista movement still has pulling power and this march seems to confirm it,'' Aubry said. ``It was the biggest gathering of ski-mask-wearing Indians since the armed uprising in 1994,'' he added.

Rebels of the Zapatista National Liberation Army declared war on the Mexican government on Jan. 1, 1994.

At least 140 died in the initial bloodbath but the guerrillas have not fought in earnest since mid-January 1994 after declaring a cease-fire.

Currently, the rebels are cornered in a relatively small area of the Chiapas jungle by the army. But they still command support among the wider Indian community in the poor state. Peace talks with the government broke down last September, leading many to write the Zapatistas off as a force in the Mexican political arena because of their subdued and non-combative fight against the government.

During Saturday's march, rebels blocked roads leading to this former colonial state capital for more than five hours. Other supporters marched in the city, some carrying aloft cardboard coffins, demanding an end to violence in the state.

Paramilitary and police crackdowns have been stepped up in recent weeks, claiming at least 10 lives and forcing around 4,500 Indians to flee into hiding in the state's wild and inhospitable mountains, community leaders have said. The government has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Zapatistas threatened during the march to return to arms if the alleged killing of Indians did not stop.

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