Mexico-Bolivia tensions as Evo invites Zapatistas

From AP via Mexico’s El Universal, Jan. 12, via Chiapas95:

Mexico’s foreign secretary on Wednesday criticized Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales for inviting Zapatista rebels to his inauguration. “There should be one invitation to the Mexican government, which represents the Mexican state,” Luis Ernesto Derbez said, “and not to specific groups.”

Morales, who was elected the first Indian president in Bolivia’s history in December, has said he will invite leaders from various Latin American leftist organizations, such as the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil and Mexico’s Zapatistas, to his Jan. 22 inauguration ceremony.

Latin American presidents and a spattering of celebrities such as prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez will also be invited, Morales has said. Fox’s chief spokesman, Rube’n Aguilar, said Wednesday that the Mexican president will not attend Morales’ inauguration, even though he was invited.

Fox’s office has stated its policy is to not attend presidential inaugurations in other countries.

Mexico’s ambassador to Bolivia, Jose’ Antonio Zabalgoitia, will be attending the ceremony.

It is unclear, however, whether Fox will attend the upcoming inauguration of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras.

Derbez’s comments came amid a war of words between the conservative administration of President Vicente Fox and the leftist Morales, a former coca grower who has threatened to expropriate Bolivia’s rich natural gas resources.

Last week, Fox said that if the incoming Bolivian government doesn’t want to export the nation’s gas, it should eat it.

“The new government apparently has said that Bolivia’s gas will not be exported,” Fox said. “Either they are going to consume it or they are going to eat it. They have a lot of gas to export.”

Morales responded Wednesday by asking Mexico’s president to show more respect.

“He should not try to humiliate me and my people,” Morales said during a visit to South Africa.

The Zapatistas, who support Indian rights, launched an armed uprising against the Mexican government in 1994 but have been largely peaceful since. On Jan. 1, rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos began a six-month tour of Mexico aimed at building a national leftist movement ahead of the country’s July 2 presidential elections.

See our last posts on Bolivia and Mexico.