Chiapas - 1998
CHIAPAS Chiapas 1998

Pages: 2000, 1999,
Chiapas Media Project

This is an URGENT APPEAL from the Milwaukee Pledge of Resistance:

Please Ask Your Senators And Representative To Halt All Military Assistance To Mexico Until Government Terrorism Against Mayan Indians Stops!

Call (toll free)1-800-522-6721 to be connected to any representative or senator.

On January 1, 1994, Mexico was surprised by a well organized revolt of indigenous (Mayan Indian) people whose land had been opened to seizure by wealthy ranchers through a constitutional amendment. Moreover, NAFTA would deal a fatal blow to a source of income: raising corn. Their demands were posted in several towns and aired on a captured radio station and the internet. Once they gained world attention, the Zapatistas, as they called themselves, retreated to the jungle but continued to press for a redress of their grievances. After months of negotiating with the world watching, the government signed the 40-page San Andres Accord in February, 1996, conceding certain civil rights and granting some autonomy to 700 mostly indigenous villages. But that was only for public consumption.

Meanwhile, a January 13, 1995, Chase Manhattan Bank, memo had noted:
"While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. THE GOVERNMENT WILL NEED TO ELIMINATE THE ZAPATISTAS to demonstrate their control of the national territory and of security policy."

The Mexican government has been ACTING ON THIS IMPERATIVE EVER SINCE by an extensive, sophisticated, and brutal campaign to do just that: eliminate not just the Zapatistas, but ANY WHO MIGHT EXPRESS SYMPATHY for their demands. All of this is accompanied both by a propaganda war and the EXPULSION OF FOREIGN observers and journalists from the region.

PRESIDENT ZEDILLO REFUSES TO IMPLEMENT The San Andres Accord, while blaming the Zapatista leadership for breakdowns in discussions. When the intermediary commission (CONAI) listed grievances and atrocities, he accused it of favoring the Zapatistas, and blocked its efforts.


In early June, 1998, CONAI's president, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia finally resigned and the commission dissolved.

IN OBVIOUS FRAUD, indigenous villages often report 100% (or more!) votes for the PRI, Zedillo's party. But, IN KEEPING WITH THE SAN ANDRES ACCORD, 32 villages sympathetic to the Zapatistas have now installed autonomous "shadow governments". THESE VILLAGES ARE PRIME TARGETS for a two-pronged repressive effort.

Much of the dirty work is done by CONSCRIPTED PARAMILITARIES, armed and directed by PRIistas and the regular army to MURDER POTENTIAL Zapatista sympathizers. After an attack, hundreds of Mexican SOLDIERS WITH GUNS BLAZING, will enter a village "TO PROTECT THE INDIANS from each other" and to "regain law and order." Homes are ransacked and burned, "looking for weapons," the occupants fleeing in terror into the jungle with only what they can carry.

The soldiers bring with them prostitutes, drug peddlers, and other camp followers.

14,000 to 19,000 INDIGENOUS ARE REFUGEES, 9,000 from Chenalho alone, according to the Associated Press on June 22, 1998. 1,500 had died even before the December 22 massacre at Acteal in which paramilitaries murdered 45 men, women and children. Many of those had fled other villages to take refuge in Acteal's church.

There have been almost NO EXCHANGES BETWEEN ZAPATISTA GUERRILLAS and the army since January, 1994.

THE PLIGHT OF THE REFUGEES IS HORRIBLE. Most lack adequate shelter, food, water, and sanitation facilities. Babies, the ill, the handicapped, and the elderly are the worse off. Latrines are often no more than a fallen tree trunk. ONE CAMP HAD ONLY ONE LATRINE PER 50-60 PEOPLE. Diarrhea is common and feces are everywhere. Water is scarce even for drinking, not to mention washing or bathing. The Red Cross has been unable to keep up with the demands. Babies are being born in these conditions. In some camps over half the people are ill.


PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO MAKE YOUR PHONE CALLS. Please ask at least one other person to do the same.


Senator Russell D. Feingold (D)
502 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4904
202-224-5323 (fax=202-224-2725)
email: OR
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Senator Herbert Kohl (D)
330 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-5653 (fax=202-224-9787)
email: OR
310 West Wisconsin Avenue #950
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Hon. Mark Neumann (R-1st)
415 Cannon House office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-3393 (fax=202-225-3393)
email: OR
1 Parker Place Room 710
Janesville, WI 53545

Hon. Scott Klug (R-2nd)
2331 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2906 (fax=202-225-6942)
email: OR
16 N. Carroll St. Room 600
Madison, WI 53703

Hon. Ron Kind (D-3rd)
1713 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20515
202-225-5506 (fax=202-225-5739) OR
Black River Falls, WI

Hon. Gerald D. Kleczka (D-4th)
2301 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-4572 (fax=202-225-8135)
email: OR
5032 W. Forest Home Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53219

Hon. Tom Barrett (D-5th)
1224 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-3571 (fax=202-225-2185)
email: OR
135 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Hon. Thomas E. Petri (R-6th)
2262 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2446 (fax=202-225-2356)
email: OR
845 S. Main St.
Fond du lac, WI 54935

Hon. David R. Obey (D-7th)
2462 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-3365 (fax= -3240) OR
Federal Building
317 1st Street
Wausau, WI 54401

Hon. Jay W. Johnson (D-8th)
202-225-5665 (fax=-5729)
1313 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515 OR
2672 Sandra Rose Lane
New Franken, WI 54229

Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-9th)
2332 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-5101 (fax=202-225-31290)
email: OR
120 Bishop's Way
Elm Grove, WI 53122

President Bill Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
No answers but he 'samples' email

Hon. Madeleine K. Albright
Secretary of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
202-647-4000 OR -6575 (comments)


18 Mar 1998




Since the massacre at Acteal, the war in Chiapas has intensified. Throughout December, January and February the specter of war which arrived on December 22nd was met with a continual manifestation. Despite the power of these combined global resistances, the Mexican government's war continues. The constant harassment of the communities is unabated. The list of those assassinated grows. The suffering of the refugees continues. Human rights workers and priests are expelled from the country, and more stringent immigration requirements are placed upon visitors to Chiapas. The spokesperson for the 200-member International Civilian Human Rights Observation Commission, Ignacio Garcia Garcia, stated "there are elements and conditions, in accordance with international legislation, to accuse the Mexican government of genocide. In Chiapas, the will exists to exterminate a population group for ethnic, religious, and political reasons. The signs we have seen in Chiapas indicate to us that a violent, rather than a peaceful, solution to the conflict is in the making."

Zedillo signs his own version of a law on indigenous rights and culture and sends it to Congress. He ignores the Congress, and the Cocopa, the body of legislators who had already presented him a version of the legal initiative acceptable to the Zapatistas. In the words of Indian leader Adelfo Regino of the National Indigenous Congress, Zedillo and the PAN's initiative constitute "a true offense against the individual and collective dignity of our peoples." The initiative, patched together by the PRI and the PAN will be signed into law once the Mexican Congress [which has a PRI majority] approves it. The package of reforms essentially denies any right to self-determination, reduces normative systems to "uses and customs", and excludes basic territorial rights as acknowledged in the ILO Treaty 169. If the Mexican federal government had made the San Andres agreements a legal reality, it would have been the first time that a constitutional reform did not come from those in power but from society. The implementation of San Andres would have legalized a process of social organization; one which is completely outside the control of State mechanisms. Millions of members of a social group would be outside State control in an autonomous and independent form.

To the demagoguery and repression of the Mexican government, the EZLN responded with the establishment of indigenous autonomous bases. In almost 40 regions of Chiapas, indigenous communities, decreed the formation of autonomous municipalities, based on the concepts within the San Andres agreements. It is difficult to appreciate the importance and complexity, of this incredible process of self-organization. The government understood better than others the significance and the importance of indigenous autonomy. If this process were to flower, if it were to be emulated by a majority of Mexican civil society and by fundamental sectors of peoples all over the world, it would rip to shreds the well-worn mantra that the world's media has been repeating in every nation, language, form and image, "Resistance is futile. Conform and practice passivity."

President Zedillo's response to the Indigenous peoples has been state sanctioned terror and increased levels of militarization. Daily surveillance flights have increased dramatically. La Jornada reported on March 17th that PC7s, Condors, and ARVA airplanes were reportedly spotted conducting practice bombing runs near Teheran airport around Tuxtla Guitterez. It was also reported that there is increased activity of Bell 206 helicopters, used to transport equipment and troops near the conflict zone. At the same time, in an interview with the Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, Zedillo states that "what occurred in Acteal was a massacre committed by a group of assassins who were taking revenge," repeating, in an international medium, the racist, ignorant position of the PGR (Justice Department). His true position regarding Acteal, despite damaging evidence and international outcry, is reflected in the fact that the paramilitaries still operate openly, under the auspices of the Mexican Federal Army.

Meanwhile a prominent Mexican journal, Proceso, reveals that an Israeli security company, Tandu Technologies and Security Systems Ltd, has an office in the state of Campeche. Tandu and its two subsidiaries, engage in intelligence-gathering and employ experts in special operations. The American Embassy smugly affirms that there has been U.S. military presence in Chiapas at least once in 1997 and several times before. U.S. military sales to Mexico rose to $28 million in 1997 from $4.8 million the year before, an increase of 60 %. Arms sales are a bloody insurance policy for the massive U.S. investment which is 67% of the total foreign investment in Mexico.

In Chiapas, a war which has foreign sanction, sponsorship and active participation of several industrialized countries in the world, takes hold. On behalf of the monster called the "global market" are the Swiss planes, the Israeli intelligence and U.S. military officers. In response to this extremely volatile situation which is quickly evolving, and in solidarity with various Mexican organizations we call your attention to the following;

  1. The 100 hour march called by dozens of Independent Mexican organizations in response to the evolving crisis.
  2. The call by Enlace Civil for Mexican nationals to travel to Chiapas to exert a constant and organized presence in indigenous communities suffering military and paramilitary pressure.
  3. The pronouncement of a civil committee of Dialogue of the FZLN, "San Patricio" Batallion, for the "utilization of all forms of demonstration and peaceful and civil expression to demonstrate to the government and all those who, together with it, promote the war...that there are more than thousands of Zapatistas and that they are everywhere."
  4. The call from Conai to all "movements and organizations of civil society so that they reactivate their invaluable efforts in this crucial hour their strength and presence are irreplaceable."

The Coordinating Committee of the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico will be holding an emergency meeting this coming weekend to evaluate potential strategies so a powerful message of opposition can be sent to both the U.S. and Mexican which appear to be hell-bent on their war of extermination of the Zapatistas. It is necessary for all people of conscience to begin to prepare an appropriate strategy for their voice to be heard - and to respond to the suffering in Southern Mexico. We welcome your comments and recommendations. The situation is urgent. If this is our last chance to act, let us demonstrate to both governments that indeed, there are Zapatistas everywhere, and it is impossible to eliminate them all.

For more information please contact the NCDLJ at: (213) 254-9550 or (800) 405-7770



22 January 1998


Sisters, Brothers our Friends and Supporters:
    The Congreso Nacional Indigena has provided the following report which we now have translated into English. NCDM will also be announcing official global actions very soon.

    I have been asked by many of you to provide a form letter that can be used on this situation. We will contact Congreso Nacional Indigena to assist us with one for your use.

    Besides the new Chiapas`98 network forming (let me know if you want copy) there is another cyber action organizing which is impressive. They have selected five financial institutions in Mexico which they will occupy through an online sit-in on the 29th. Request copy if you would like more info. We will be monitoring this action to explore the ramification potential.

    The following report from CNI is articulate and speaks to: self-determination, collective rights, indigenous media rights, new expressions of autonomy etc and more insight on the situation with a call for increase, alert and continuation of solidarity & organizational efforts.

    Ku`E (resist) ~k



January 11, 1998

National and International Journey of Struggle and
Mobilization in Maximum Alert

Mexico is currently living a war.

Indigenous peoples and member organizations of the National Congress of Indigenous Peoples, declare that the only way to make progress in building a true and lasting peace and dignity, is by respecting the process of dialogue and negotiation within the existing legal framework, with the goal of reestablishing the 'State of Rights' in our country.

We declare that the present Law of Concordance and Pacification, promulgated by the Union Congress on March 11, 1995, must not be disputed. Thanks to this Law under mandatory observance by the Federal Government and all Mexicans in general, it was possible to open spaces for dialogue and negotiation. This law defines the legal framework of the EZLN and the objective of the process of dialogue between the government and the EZLN: Resolve the original causes of the uprising and to facilitate the consolidation of a true and lasting peace and dignity for all Mexicans. Based on the March 11, 1995 Law, the Federal government is obliged to respect the members of the EZLN, as persons, as well as their properties, and not victimize them in any form during the process of negotiation.

In this context and with this legal foundation, the San Andres Accords were signed on February 16, 1996. These accords are the result of a wider national process for democratic transformation. They include all indigenous peoples and diverse sectors of the country. As a way to complete these accords, President Zedillo must withdraw his proposal to obstruct Constitutional Reform. Zedillo's action has only provoked the social fragmentation and isolation in which many Mexican people live today. The Union Congress must also receive the proposal-initiative to reform the constitution in matters pertaining to indigenous rights and cultures (in its original version introduced on November 29, 1996), and implement such reforms without altering the spirit of the San Andres Accords.

The San Andres Accords and the proposal for Constitutional Reform elaborated by COCOPA, take into consideration the creation of a legal framework to establish a new relationship between the Indigenous Peoples, the Mexican State, and the national society. These efforts will help us accomplish a true and lasting democratic transformation in the country. They also recognize the Collective Rights of Peoples and Communities that have given form and substance to the nation as a whole throughout history. Therefore, it is imperative to send a wide and open call for the participation of all sectors of society. We must all understand the transcendence of ethnocidal policies by resolving peacefully (within the legal framework) the conflict one day. Throughout history, governors have used ethnocidal policies against our peoples.

We must block the roads to the institutional and paramilitary escalation of violence. The worst manifestation of the violence is against the poorest of the poor in the country. In Chiapas as in other places of Mexico, the most reactionary sectors follow the same strategies of counterinsurgency exercised by the Federal Army and paramilitary bands. The government of Ernesto Zedillo practices a double standard that we must all denounce. As the maximum chief of the arm forces, he has the responsibility to stop militarization and to stop the harassment of indigenous peoples and organizations around the country, like the recent incidents at Acteal Chenalhó, Chiapas. The discourse of assistantship utilized by the government to mask the massive presence of soldiers in Chiapas, in fact has provoked actions by "white guards" groups in power that with impunity make use of paramilitaries to stop the peaceful transition to democracy in our country. The vicious cycle of extreme poverty amongst indigenous communities, their social fragmentation and isolation, the obstruction of their wishes, and the arms supply to the regions in conflict all encourages confrontations between indigenous peoples; they are crowned, ironically, with accusations against the victims in the killings, or against those who take refuge in the mountains. We must not allow the continuing imposition of this same strategy in Chiapas nor anywhere else.

In this context, the international community has a fundamental role. The ethnocide and ecocide against indigenous peoples, have encouraged crimes against humanity that must be disavowed by governments, international agencies, and all the peoples of the world. It is most important to send a call to the international community: to remain vigilant to the actions of the federal government, and to denounce such actions whenever it is necessary by utilizing the media at hand, and thus helping to forge a peaceful transition to democracy in Mexico.

Indigenous peoples autonomy in the framework of the Mexican Nation-State.

The autonomy of indigenous peoples is not an obstacle for building a better nation for all Mexican people. A society that is in violent confrontation like Mexico, with severe delays in social justice, can not provide a fertile ground for concord and peace. Indigenous autonomy must be understood as an instrument of reconciliation and plurality, one that acknowledges the diversity and collective rights of our peoples, such as Covenant 169 of the ILO adopted by our country.

Evidently, we can not achieve autonomy with the level of poverty and injustice found in many sectors of society. For these reasons, it is necessary to create a real change in the economic neoliberal model, considering that our people suffer and continuously pay the cost and risks of the power of money.

Autonomy is also inscribed in the new relation between indigenous peoples, the State, and the national society. It is an angular rock for the construction of a new national project, a truly democratic country that a great number of Mexicans are presently demanding. Autonomy is a universal value of indigenous peoples, and not a private one. It is necessary to explore new expressions of autonomy for the multiple communities and collective groups integrating our nation.

Mobilization as a fundamental instrument.

The mobilization of indigenous peoples and organizations represents a deadbolt to the actions of the government and to the powerful groups represented and protected by the Mexican government. We must stop the escalation of violence in all indigenous communities of Mexico, stop the kidnappings, unjust imprisonments, and impunity, by articulating indigenous struggles and resistance. We must do it by building unity in each of the constituencies, and by opening new spaces for action. Unity is fundamental in order to create a democratic transformation for profound changes in the country. We must reject the continuation of the system of "cacicazgos" (corrupt landownership), impunities, intolerance, racism and discrimination, and thus help liberate our indigenous political prisoners. Such government policies are aimed to exterminate indigenous peoples and are the same indigenista policies embraced by the government in turn.

Criteria for a united mobilization

Indigenous peoples and organizations that form part of the National Congress of Indigenous Peoples, must take, internally, coordinated actions with the civil society and international constituencies in order to achieve their objectives.

Each action must include appropriate media-coverage to give power to the results.

We must promote the creation of indigenous channels of communication and provisions, in accordance with the proposals elaborated by the Working Group of Economic Development, Social Welfare, and in tune with the teachings of our Mother Earth.

All initiatives must articulate local and specific demands, with the main goal of completing the San Andres Accords.

If there are any difficulties and/or confrontations in our communities, it will be because indigenous peoples rights are still not recognized in the framework of the Constitution.

The extended Continuation Committee of the National Congress of Indigenous Peoples makes a call to all indigenous peoples and organizations, to remain in:

    Maximum Alert for Civil Indigenous Emergency
    Therefore, we declare ourselves in permanent session to:
      stop the war of extermination against indigenous peoples,
      stop the increasing militarization in all regions of the country,
      stop the effects of war amongst the most unprotected indigenous populations.
      confront police and violence by the government.

The mobilization of our peoples and organizations must be construed as a permanent stand for action, allowing us to confront the complex violent nexus that affects us all, as well as building wider perspectives of the indigenous movement, and in favor of the process for national democratization.

In order to accomplish this, we must reinforce communication channels, based in unity, tolerance, plurality, and respect to the diversity of our own organizations.

We must promote a wide campaign to broadcast to our communities, and to all sectors of the national and international society. It is particularly important to consolidate bridges of collaboration and understanding with other indigenous peoples, institutions, and international organizations to put international law into effect.

We must consolidate strong alliances with social, political, and productive organizations, and with democratic governments, as a mechanism to build better alternatives for struggle and solutions to the complex situation that we are facing.


May all people rise up, may all unite, let there be no one among us behind the rest. Maya Prophecy from the Pop Wuj or Book of Councils.


    January 12-25: Distribute information and the Accords to communities and organizations.
    January 18: Women's meeting in Mexico City.
    January 25: Simultaneous indigenous press conferences everywhere.
    January 31: Evaluation meeting in San Cristobal de las Casas. Possible place of meeting: Oventic. To confirm in agreement with the conditions.
    February 5:
    1. Local mobilizations to strengthen local action, with national coordination.
    2. Establish an Indigenous Camp in in the UN site in Mexico City.
    3. International indigenous tour and transferring of indigenous contingencies to particular embassies. (European Community, Parliaments and members, NGOs working for Human Rights, International Tribunals of HAYA, among others).
    4. Broadcasting and information.
    5. Establishing the foundation for a new relationship between Indigenous peoples and the international community. Lastly, combine actions and network.

    February 15: Public forums (community and urban).
    February 16: anniversary of the San Andres Accords.
    February 24: Marches and sit-ins (in public buildings) in the capital cities.
    March 1: Beginning of the indigenous national walk that will end on
    April 10: date of the Second National Congress of Indigenous Peoples.
    March 8: Women's caravan.
    April 10: Second Congress of Indigenous Peoples.

NetWarriors Translation provided by Manuel Aparicio

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