"What we are going to regulate-Colosio said in 1990-, what we are going to
regulate immediately is the right of the indigenous people to be heard, and be
heard in their own language, so that their forms of justice, medicine and
protection of the environment be known; so that their proposals for what they
understand to be well-being and better forms of democracy be heard".
Chiapas, in a state of siege
President Ernesto Zedillo has repeatedly declined the use of force in
Chiapas. Repeatedly, the Secretary of the Interior, Francisco Labastida has
talked about implementing a peaceful and prosperous strategy for Chiapas.
Obviously, Albores, the governor of Chiapas, has heard neither the President
nor the Secretary. Time and time again, his protection is quickly given to
the Priista groups and denied to the autonomous or Zapatista peoples. Surely,
the governor finds his support, more than in the Central government, in the
local forces, in his alliance to the Chiapan oligarchy with the PRI and in
the alliance of both to the paramilitary groups.
The question that remains is this: Who has ordered the Mexican military to
move? The only one who has the power to do it is the Supreme Chief, the
President of the Republic.
Chiapas is internally in a state of siege by all these powers and
contradictions of power. The governor does not want witnesses. The federal
government, apparently, does not either.
But a Chiapas with no witnesses means the death of Chiapas, extermination
without impunity. Neither Hitler was able to tolerate witnesses in Auschwitz,
nor Stalin at the Gulag, nor Pinochet in Chile. But a Chiapas without
witnesses, a Chiapas handed out to official impunity and to the death of the
poor, means something else: it means the danger of protest uprisings in the
countryside and in the cieties; it means the very serious interruption, if not
the death, of democratic transition in Mexico.
May the emissaries of death not deceive themselves: in Mexico, the dead are
rising and claim justice all the way from Chinameca to Tlatelolco.
May the intermediaries come, by mule or by plane.
Because of this, it is urgent that abandonment and impunity not be the signs
of the violent "pacification" of Chiapas. How to avoid it? By multiplying
the observation and negotiation bodies.
The CONAI has died. May the COCOPA live. This, the Pacification and Consent
Comission, which was created by law, includes representatives from all the
political parties. It has a legitimate voice which needs to be made heard.
To the Government, that all violent activity in Chiapas stop, including the
dismantling of the autonomous municipalities that have been in existence, in
some cases, for more than two years. Why muddy things up with blood and
confussion? People ask themselves, how did a thousand soldiers turn up
instantly to kill six Chiapan indigenous people and there wasn't one damned
well-paid cop to protect my life and property in the cities of this country?
(Translator's note: Just as I was typing this last sentence, I was
interrupted by an email message from my sister in Mexico City telling me that
her station wagon was stolen yesterday from ouside her home in Mexico City's
Colonia del Valle) And before the EZLN, why say anything anymore.
Absence of witnesses in Chiaps means the victory of impunity in Chiapas. It
is urgent to smother the local and federal government with observers and
Besides a resurrected COCOPA, the Red Cross and the Conference of Mexican
Episcopacy must make themselves present.
Given the flow of displaced people, the presence of the United Nations High
Commissioner for refugees, ACNUR or UNHCR, headed by Mary Robinson, is both
necessary and legitimate.
The harmful official policy of expulsion of foreign observers, which has
damaged the fame of the country and has resurrected the cheapest xenophobic
and chauvinistic vocabulary, must be reversed: the government should welcome
observers, and it should turn them into witnesses of the governmental effort
to negotiate peace in Chiapas, it should see the observers as friends, as
protectors of the indigenous people and as de facto allies of the government.
The dangers that a policy of blood and fire in Chiapas represent to Mexico,
to the democratic transition and to the diminishing international position of
the country, requires, finally, a mixed mediating body, which is both
national and international, and who is able to project to the world the
negotiating and pacifying will of the whole country and would help the
government avoid the increase of expenses in the southern border of the
Bernardo Sepulveda, the Chancelor of Contadora is a Mexican mediator with
proved credentials in the Central American conflicts, a diplomat with
experience and acceptable to both sides, can be a high ranking mediator in
this coflict (Translator's note: The Contadora group was created on the 9 of
January, 1983 at a conference that took place at the Island of Contadora for
the purpose of bringing an end to the civil wars in El Salvador, and
Guatemala and the conflict between Nicaragua and the U.S. The group had
representatives from Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, and Colombia and their main
objective was to try to find solutions through dialogue).
He is not the only man with political and diplomatic experience, Jesus Silva
Herzog, former Secretary of the Treasury and ambassador to Washington, or
Enrique Gonzalez Pedrero, senator and ex governor of the state of Tabasco,
also have the importance and wisdom to assume this role.
But the Mexican mediator will require, nevertheless, international support of
the first order. They can give it to him, as was the case of the so called
"friends of the Secretary General of the UN" who were named in an effort to
end the war in El Salvador, men like the former president of Spain, Felipe
Gonzalez; the Nobel Peace Prize winner and ex president of Costa Rica, Oscar
Arias; the English political conservative Tristram Garrel-Jones; or the
Swedish Socialist diplomat Pierre Schori. The latter two, of course, are
Spanish speakers. The point is not to make the conflict in Chiapas
international, but to resort to international solidarity which can serve us
well, additionally, the ever conflictive relationship with the United States
and their unrenouncing interventionist vocation in Mexico, as shown in the
"Casablanca Operation Sting" makes it impossible to resort to them.
But the other factor for dialogue and negotiation is the EZLN. Its silence
is worrisome, it clouds the situation and postpones compromise. It gives
room for innecessary conjectures. Has Marcos died, is he out of the country,
has he been substituted by other Zapatista leaders? The EZLN presents
obstacles to the peace process and damages itself if it does not talk before
the new situation, if it does not unite its voice to that of the national and
international choir that isolates the assassins in Chiapas.
Colosio in Chiapas
"I commit myself to avoid confusion between modernization and the most
advanced showings of injustice. I also commit myself to not confuse the
respect of the indigenous cultures with a justification to continue the
abandonment. I commit myself to promote among the Priistas a reflection
about the injustices and offenses. To avoid the simple sharing of blame or
innocense and to move on to action. We will avoid that the various dramas of
the indigenous people continue to be tragedies to the Nation."(Luis Donaldo
Colosio, speech at La Ventana, Chiapas, March 3, 1990).
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c 1995 - 1998
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