Chiapas: Zapatistas host national meetings

As the paramilitaries in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas are re-asserting their reign of terror, their Zapatista enemies, in contrast, are disavowing a return to arms and trying to draw support for their national political mobilization, announced last month. At an Aug. 6 meeting with Mexican left organizations at the jungle settlement of San Rafael, Subcommander Marcos announced what he called the “Other Campaign,” implying an end to armed struggle and a call for dialogue on a national program.

“If the workers, campesinos, students and whatever are anarchists, it doesn’t matter, we want to talk with them. If they are Trotskyites, it doesn’t matter, we want to speak with them. Maoists, Stalinists, whatever they are, as long as they have a project and a proposal along the lines of this great anti-capitalist band.” However, he reiterated his criticisms of Mexico’s principal left opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), accusing its likely 2006 presidential candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador of selling out. “I am telling you clearly that we are going to listen with respect, but any argument regarding supporting Lopez Obrador’s candidacy or the PRD is doomed to failure with us… If anyone says there are bases inside the PRD which should be rescued, rescue them. Not us.” (Transcript online at Chiapas95)

The meeting was shortly followed by another, at the jungle village of Carmen Patate—this one on the question of rights for Mexico’s indigenous peoples, and attended by representatives of some 60 indigenous organizations from across the country. (AP, Aug. 13; AP, Aug. 15)

The Subcomandante also responded to media barbs about the paunch he displayed when he emerged from the jungle for his first press conference in four years before the San Rafael meeting opened. In a self-depreciating message published in La Jornada, he lamented: “No more of that ‘sex symbol’ now. I tell you, now I don’t even heat up the coffee.” According to the government, Marcos turned 48 last month. (El Universal, Aug. 12, via Chiapas95)

European Union representative Kurt Leiseder, in Chiapas for a meeting on indigenous rights called by the state government in the highland city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, said “we are very happy that [the Zapatistas] want to seek a political path to pursue their objectives,” and pledged the EU’s support for a peaceful solution to the Chiapas conflict. (EFE, Aug 8, via Chiapas95)

In other Chiapas news, the state oil monopoly Pemex acceded to the demands of the state’s Gov. Pablo Salazar and shut the oil well at Santa Cruz, in the northwest of the state. Salazar’s demand came in response to safety concerns following a wave of industrial accidents at Pemex sites in the neighboring states of Tabasco and Veracruz. Greenpeace Mexico’s Alejandro Calvillo said that an average of two environmental emergencies a week now occur in the country’s 30,000-mile pipeline network, calling it “a disaster on a national level.” But Mexico’s energy minister, Fernando Elizondo, blasted Salazar’s action, saying that the well conformed with “all the national and international norms of security” and that there was “no justification for a state authority to intervene in this fashion.” (LAT, Aug. 6)

See our last post on Chiapas.