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)
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Mexico extradites ex-guerrilla to Chile
A former Chilean guerilla convicted of kidnappings in Mexico has been extradited to his homeland to face murder charges in the death of a right-wing senator.
Raúl Julio Escobar Poblete AKA “Comandante Emilio” lived in relative obscurity in Mexico for years before his 2017 arrest in San Miguel de Allende. He has been serving a 60-year sentence in Mexico for kidnapping a French-American woman, Nancy Michelle Kendall, who was held captive for two months. Authorities say he will be sent back to Mexico to finish that sentence after any legal process in Chile.
Mexican prosecutors say he ran a ring also blamed for kidnapping former presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos.
Escobar was a member of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, a guerilla group that fought the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990.
A year after Pinochet left power, the group was blamed for the assassination of Sen. Jaime Guzman, an ally of the former dictator who had been arguing against a measure that would allow amnesty for people convicted under anti-terrorism laws. (AP)