Mexico: Zapatistas deny link to Fernández de Cevallos kidnapping

After seven months in captivity, Mexican politician Diego Fernández de Cevallos was released last month, saying after his reappearance that he was well but giving no indication of who his captors were. During his captivity, his apparent abductors issued three statements, calling themselves “The Mysterious Kidnappers” and later the “Network for Global Transformation,” demanding money in exchange for the release of the former senator. A week after his release, on Jan. 1—anniversary of the 1994 uprising by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in southern Chiapas state—a fourth statement was issued purporting to be from the abductors. Entitled “The ex-Mysterious Kidnappers: The truth comes to light,” the communique was signed by “el Guerrero Balam,” a “faithful member of the insurgent forces of the EZLN,” subordinated to “Subcomandante Marcos and the wise Mayan Zapatistas.” The writer said that Fernández de Cevallos is “one of the main enemies of our project,” an apparent reference to the EZLN’s demand for indigenous autonomy.

The following day, the EZLN’s civilian wing, Enlace Zapatista, issued a statement signed by spokespersons Javier Elorriaga and Sergio Rodríguez Lascano, denying the authenticity of the “Guerrero Balam” communique. The Enlace Zapatista statement rejected the notion that the EZLN had any role in the kidnapping, and charged that the author of the bogus communique “is only looking to be center stage, causing confusion and serving the interests of power.” It warned that indigenous communities in Chiapas could suffer repression as a result of the prank.

Figures in Mexico’s political establishment also weighed in to deny a Zapatista role in the abduction. Federal deputy José Narro Céspedes (PRD-Zacatecas), president of the congressional peace commission for Chiapas (known by its Spanish acronym COCOPA), rejected an EZLN link to the crime and demanded an “exhaustive investigation” to uncover the true authors of the four “infamous pamphlets.” Chiapas Gov. Juan Sabines said on Twitter: “If the EZLN has sent a message to the country in these times of violence, it has been that of prudence, peace and political responsibility.”

The Zapatista Army itself, while still in control of remote areas of Chiapas, has maintained an uncharacteristic silence for the past several months, issuing no media communiques in 2010. (SIPAZ blog, Jan. 7; InSight, Jan. 5; Mexico Today, Jan. 4; Latin America News Dispatch, Dec. 21)

See our last post on Mexico’s narco wars

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