#. 60. Nov. 18, 2002
STATE TERROR IN PALESTINE, GUJARAT, CHIAPAS
ISRAELI AUTHOR PRO-TRANSFER?
HINDU CHAUVINIST SHADOW PLAY
ZAPATISTAS PROTEST PUEBLA-PANAMA PLAN
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Amira Hass' Challenge: Speak out Against "Transfer"
2. Moledet Ads in Palestinian Papers: We'll Help You Move
3. Far Right Joins Forces, Adopts "Transfer" Platform
1. Head of Hindu Militia Out on Bail
THE MEXICO FRONT
1. 600 Soldiers Arrested on Drug Charges in Sinaloa
2. Zapatistas Protest Free-Trade Corridor
3. Chiapas Rainforest Up for Corporate Grabs
4. Supreme Court Rules on Zapatista Peace Plan
5. Setbacks for Chiapas Paras...
6. ...As Anti-Zapatista Terror Escalates
7. Partial Justice in Acteal Massacre
8. U.S. State Department Warns of Religious Violence in Chiapas
9. Family Slain in Chiapas Witch-Hunt
10. Violent Squatter Camp Eviction in Mexico City
11. "Autonomous Municipality" Declared in Mexico State
12. "Dirty War" Investigator: Secret Graves in Acapulco
13. Human Rights Ombudsman: Impunity Continues
14. Mexico Withdraws from Hemispheric Security Treaty
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. AMIRA HASS' CHALLENGE: SPEAK OUT AGAINST "TRANSFER"
In a Nov. 6 Ha'aretz op-ed piece, Ha'aretz editor Amira Hass, who currently lives in Ramallah, asks the question, " Will you just stand on the sidelines?"
"The question," Hass writes, "must be directed to the Labor Party, Meretz and even Shinui and to some of the more balanced social elements that still exist in Shas and the Likud: Do you intend to stand on the sidelines, encouraging with your inaction the transferists, who more than ever are motivated by divine messianic delusions?
"Will you prevent including moral objection to transfer in your election campaign materials, because it will drive some voters away? Will the military people in your ranks warn the soldiers among the transferists that any attempt to conduct a transfer operation will be met with active resistance?
"Will your field activists make do with lighting candles and inviting rock bands to Rabin memorials and forever be afraid to confront the transferists, to avoid civil war? Will law professors and historians, members of those parties and movements that support centrist governments, remain silent until after the ethnic cleansing has taken place?
"Will the religious among you, forsaking their Judaism for the mounting brutal propaganda, join other 'mitzvah-abiding' people, who sanctify the land and scorn human beings?
"Will the authors who picked olives with the Palestinians make do with that, and not demand that the law enforcement authorities in Israel make clear their position? Is transfer an inseparable part of the founding ideology of the State of Israel, or a twisted mutation, which should not be allowed to rise up against its creator?" (Ha'aretz, Nov. 6)
TThe authors Hass refers to are Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, Meir Shalev and David
Grossman, who toured Palestinian villages in the West Bank on Oct. 30 and
harvested olives for the beleagured olive farmers. The Palestinian olive
harvest has been hampered by Israeli settlers, who have attacked harvesters,
and stolen their crops. (Deutsche-Presse Agentur, Oct. 31) A.B. Yehoshua, best known for the novel "Five Seasons," was asked by
writer Avi Raz in an April 16 1993 interview in the magazine Tel Aviv Time
(Zman Tel Aviv): "What do we do if the Palestinians continue the terror?" Yehoshua replied, "And then, if this day comes, that the Palestinians break the agreements we've made with them, then I, as a dove and as a man of the left, say: Then we have to act against them in a drastic manner, the hardest way possible, that is we turn to them and say to them: If after giving you the opportunity to establish your own state, and to be free and manage your own lives [affairs], and with this you are not content - then leave here. We'll take them and transfer them across the Jordan. In an orderly manner. Transfer.
"I say in summary: If they haven't the ability, after they've been given independence, to live as good neighbors - then they should leave here. If it becomes clear after all that has been done that they are not inclined to govern themselves, on the powers that they have been vested with, we'll transfer them across the Jordan and let them be there."
2. MOLEDET ADS IN PALESTINIAN PAPERS: WE'LL HELP YOU MOVE
The Moledet (Homeland) party has been taking out advertisements in Palestinian newspapers offering free assistance and advice to any Palestinians wishing to emigrate from the West Bank or Gaza. Moledet, headed by "transfer" evangelist MK Benny Elon, advocates removing Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza by choice or by force. One who answered the ad is Ahmani, mother of six, currently living in Ramallah. Her husband is in an Israeli jail and she finds it hard to make ends meet. She answered Moledet's ad she saw in a Palestinian paper, knowing full well what the party stands for. "I don't feel uncomfortable because they will give us a good life," she says. "This is what I am looking for as a mother. I am looking for peace, and work, good education for my kids and also for food." (BBC, Oct. 30)(David Bloom)
3. FAR RIGHT JOINS FORCES, ADOPTS "TRANSFER" PLATFORM
The far right-wing parties Yisrael Beiteinu, Moledet and Tekuma joined forces Nov. 12 to form a single rightist bloc in the upcoming Jan. 28 elections. Yisrael Beiteinu and Tekuma have agreed to adopt Moledet's "transfer" platform, calling for the removal of Palestinians from the occupied territories. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 12)(David Bloom)
1. HEAD OF HINDU MILITIA OUT ON BAIL
On Nov. 13 the Election Commission of India (EC) banned a yatra, or religious march, planned by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council--a militant Hindu organization--to be held in Godhra and end in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat on Dec 6, the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu militants. The EC felt that the march was likely to fuel communal tensions and result in more violence in a state already suffering the brunt of gruesome riots, and prevent free and fair state elections from taking place Dec 12. The Commission directed the Gujarat government to take "all such measures under existing laws at its disposal to prevent such a yatra, procession, etc, and [any] display and use of such images, etc, as may incite communal tension and passions and disrupt law and order." (The Times of India, Nov. 13)
Godhra was the site of the train-burning of the Sabarmati Express carrying Hindu worshippers returning from Ayodhya that killed 57 passangers on Febuary 27, 2002. The VHP, with the help of the Gujarat state
government, run by India's ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP, meticulously orchestrated a pre-planned violent Hindu progrom across Gujarat that cost the lives of 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, and displaced 100,000 others, according to human rights organizations.
See also: Fascist Legacy Behind Gujarat Massacre
Defying the EC's ban on his organization's yatra, VHP leader Pravin Togadia called on supporters to converge at Godhra Nov. 17. Fifty-six people evaded police checkpoints and reached Godhra where they swung saffron flags in the air before being arrested by riot police and detained for several hours. Pravin Togadia and
Acharya Dharmendra, leaders of the VHP, were arrested along with 45 supporters; however, they were released the same day by a court on a nominal bail of Rs.1,000 ($20 USD).
At Godhra, the VHP had set up a dias outside the Somnath Mahadev Temple where they performed a religious ceremony in honor of the wooden sandals of Sant Ramdas, religious advisor of Shivaji, a Hindu king known for killing Muslim invaders. The temple premises was plastered with banners proclaiming, "The answer to Godhra--today Gandhinagar, tomorrow Delhi and then Islamabad" which alluded to the possibility of future Hindu militant attacks in those cities. Togadia mentioned to the crowd that Dec. 12, the day Gujarat state elections are expected to be held, is also his birthday, asking the people of Gujarat the "gift of voting in a government that will establish Hindu Rashtra [Nation]." (TOI, Nov. 17)
On Nov. 11 VHP President Ashok Singhal said that "what happened in Gujarat will happen in the whole country," making a second public statement about repeating the masscres of Gujarat in other parts of India. His first statement referred to the killing of thousands of Muslims as the "Gujarat experiment." (The Hindu, Nov. 12)
BJP hardliner and Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani said to the Lok Sabha, a house of the Parliament, Nov. 18 that the Godhra massacre would not be an issue for the BJP in the Gujarat elections, echoing a statement made by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee last week. Advani made empty reassurances that India would not be converted into a Hindu nation and that the BJP would run a clean campaign in Gujarat focusing on development-related issues. Opposition members demanded that VHP International Secretary Pravin Togadia be detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). (Hindustan Times, Nov. 18)
The BJP stance must be understood with a grain of salt: as the New York Times noted, "Mr. Togadia's arrest is nonetheless a potential watershed for the Bhartiya Janata Party, which has benefited politically from his appeals to Hindu pride even while trying to distance itself from his more extreme positions." (NYT, Nov. 18)(Subuhi Jiwani)
THE MEXICO FRONT
1. 600 SOLDIERS ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES IN SINALOA
Mexican Defense Secretary Ricardo Clemente Vega announced the dismantling of the 65th Infantry Battallion, based at Guamuchil, Sinaloa, following revelations that several members were collaborating with local drug gangs, and that at least 30 had used cocaine and marijuana. National human rights ombudsman Jose Luis Soberanes called for removing the military from Mexico's War on Drugs. "The armed forces should not investigate this or any other crime," he said. "The police should be prepared and trained to confront a problem that is their responsibility." But Sinaloa Gov. Juan Millan, whose state is a major heroin and marijuana producer and the site of violent cartel wars, said the military should reamin in narcotics enforcement. "There are risks, but the best results in combating drug trafficking have been achieved by the army," he said. "They have made the most important arrests, the most important seizures. In my opinion, their work should continue." (EFE, Oct. 17)
Meanwhile, the Mexican Human Rights Front protested that the detained troops were being held incommunicado and facing torture. 11 days after their arrest, Human Rights Front president Benjamin Laureano Luna told the press: "They have been confined to the barracks, cut off from communication and subjected to torture and cruel and degrading treatment." He said a group of women were finally allowed into the Guamuchil base to visit the detained soldiers after holding a vigil outside. "The women discovered that they had kept the soldiers on their knees, with their hands behind their heads, that some had been hit or lost teeth and others had torture marks." (AP, Oct. 15)
Gov. Millan said 80% of the 270 homicides in Sinaloa in the first five months of the year were drug-related. (AP, Oct. 15)
2. ZAPATISTAS PROTEST FREE-TRADE CORRIDOR
Hundreds of Zapatista sympathizers marked Dia de la Raza (Oct. 12) by blocking the entrance to the main Chiapas military base, Rancho Nuevo, to demand demilitarization of the conflicted southern state and protest President Vicente Fox's "Puebla-Panama Plan" (PPP), which calls for a series of new super-highways, ocean-to-ocean pipelines and hydro-electric dams across southern Mexico and Central America as arteries for global trade and development. "These lands belong to the people and we will not abandon them," said one protest leader. "The riches belong to those of us who have lived here for centuries and we will oppose their globalization." (EFE, Oct. 13)
Zapatista sympathizers also filled Mexico City's central plaza, the Zocalo, to protest the PPP--many with their faces hidden by the signature red bandana of the Zapatista rebels. Led by an elderly couple carrying a Mexican flag, the marchers stopped along the Paseo de la Reforma to pay homage to the statue of Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor. "Although the infamous invaders burned his feet, the heroic Cuauhtemoc never turned over the gold, as we won't turn over the country!" shouted Efran Capiz, leader of the Emiliano Zapata Union of Communities. (The News, Mexico City, Oct. 13)
Mixtec and Zapotec Indians also blocked highways in Oaxaca to protest Fox's plans for a new hydro-elecrtric dam and a new super-highway linking the southern state's capital to the Pacific coast. "The people who live here are campesinos. These projects will take away their livelihoods," said Gabriela Rangel Faz of the Mexican Action Network Against Free Trade, which helped coordinate the protests. "Look at what happened with other dams they built in the south. The government said the people would have nice homes, good land, schools and roads when their land was taken. They got only low-quality land and tiny shacks." The government announced in July that $4 billion has been slated for 60 new highway projects in southern Mexico. In conjunction with the protests, activists formally petitioned the International Labor Organization (ILO) to censure Mexico for non-compliance with ILO-69, a treaty stating that indigenous peoples must be consulted on development projects that will affect their lands. (The News, Mexico City, Oct. 12)
3. CHIAPAS RAINFOREST UP FOR CORPORATE GRABS
Mega-development plans for the Chiapas rainforest, the Lacandon Selva, put on hold when the Zapatista rebels seized the jungle in 1994, are now back on track. At the forefront are long-stalled plans for a giant hydro-electric complex on the Usumacinta River which cuts through the heart of the forest and forms the border with Guatemala. Officials with Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) say there are two plans--one for a 132-foot dam, which would create a floodplain 22 miles long, and 330-foot-dam, which could flood a much larger area. Archeologists are concerned that numerous Classic Maya sites in the area could be flooded. The larger proposal could even threaten the major Piedras Negras site, 30 miles upstream on the Guatemalan bank of the river. "This is a disaster," said Stephen D. Houston, an archeologist with Brigham Young University. "And if Piedras Negras is flooded, it would be the worst disaster ever to be visited on a Classic Maya site." CFE projects coordinator Julio Acosta Rodriguez said a 132-foot dam near the village of Boca de Cerro could generate 500 megawatts. "That won't solve the country's problems, but it's part of the solution," he said. If the dam threatened "a jewel of Mayan culture that must surely be preserved, we'll rethink things," Acosta said. "If a site can be rescued, we'll figure out how." But he also added: "This is Mexico's mightiest river," running though "an underdeveloped, impoverished part of the country. If we work together responsibly, we can help the region, not hurt it." Both the Environment Secretariat and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) must sign off on the project. "If we say no, the project won't happen," said Alberto Lopez Wario, INAH's director of archeological preservation. (NYT, Sept. 22)
The Inter-American Development Bank has reportedly pledged $240 million for hydro-electric development on the Usumacinta, and Union Fenosa of Spain and Alstom of France are said to be seeking construction contracts. While Mexico's federal government is leading the development effort, privatization of the CFE and its assets is currently pending--and has been the subject of much protest by electricity-sector workers. Privatization of the oil sector, long centralized under the state monopoly Pemex, is also the subject of hot debate. While Pemex exploration in the Lacandon Selva ended with the 1994 Zapatista revolt, it has recently resumed--this time under the auspices of private companies, including Seine River of Canada and General Geophysics of France [presumably under contract to Pemex]. Amidst these development plans, comparatively little attention has been paid to the current Maya Indian inhabitants of the rainforest. The government says it is preparing to evict 28 "illegal squatter settlements" from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the heart of Lacandon Selva. Protested one Montes Azules resident: "We have been accused of destroying the jungle. But we as indigenous people are the true guardians of the environment, we live together with the jungle. If the jungle dies, we die with it." Meanwhile, the DC-based Conservation International and the Mexican biotech giant Grupo Pulsar have established numerous research station in Montes Azules to map its genetic wealth--which local indigenous residents protest as another resouce grab. Said a recent statement by ARIC-ID, a local campesino group: "Yesterday's theft was gold and jade, our land, our precious timber. Today, they rob us of 'green gold': biodiversity." Noting that these plans are only moving ahead because the Mexican amry has been able to restore control over most of the Lacandon Selva from the Zapatista rebels, Ryan Zinn of Global Exchange protests Conservation International's strategy for the rainforest as "militarized conservation." (Ryan Zinn for CorpWatch, Sept. 26)
4. SUPREME COURT RULES ON ZAPATISTA PEACE PLAN
On Sept. 6, Mexico's Supreme Court upheld a package of constitutional reforms on indigenous rights aimed at ending the conflict in Chiapas, which began with the 1994 uprising of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). The original reform package had been hashed out by EZLN negotiators with federal legislators as a minimum demand for peace, but when the package went before Mexico's congress it was gutted of all binding provisions on control of land and natural resources. When congress approved the gutted package in April 2001, the EZLN broke off all contact with the government in protest. Indian communities across the country filed 330 legal challenges to the package, arguing that they were not adequately consulted over the final draft. But the Supreme Court ruled it had no jurisdiction to overturn the so-called Indian Rights Law. On Sept. 10, hundreds of Zapatista supporters marched in the Chiapas city of San Cristobal de las Casas in protest of the ruling. The march turned violent when protesters hurled rocks at the office of the government peace negotiator and overturned a vehicle of the federal secret police agency CISEN. Blanca Martinez of the local Fray Bartoleme Human Rights Center said the Indians of Chiapas feel the federal government has ignored their demands. "Whenever you feel excluded in this way, violence can't be ruled out." Mexican and international media originally reported that the EZLN's Subcommander Marcos had broken his silence with a communique accusing the federal government of "turning [its] back on Zapatista efforts to search for a peaceful and negotiated end to war." But the EZLN web site responded with a statement pointing out that the communique had been issued 18 months ago, and said that the EZLN has not broken its silence. (The News, Mexico City, Sept. 12)
However, a statement was issued by leaders of the protest march in San Cristobal, representing several Chiapas Indian and campesino groups, including the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization, the National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples, and Civil Society in Resistance. The statement said the Supreme Court decision "definitevely closes the doors to a dialogue necessary to construct peace in the state of Chiapas and all Mexico... The 'indigenous law' traitorously imposed by the Congress of the Union and by Vicente Fox, and now ratified by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, only serves the great multinational companies that seek to plunder the strategic resources of Mexico through the Puebla-Panama Plan and the Free Trade Area of the Americas." (Chiapas IMC, Sept. 11)
5. SETBACKS FOR CHIAPAS PARAS...
Nearly a thousand members of the notorious Chiapas paramilitary group Peace and Justice publicly broke with the organization, which human rights advocates say is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Zapatista sympathizers. Dissident leader Carlos Solis accused the Peace and Justice leadership of a "radical and belligerent attitude." He said the deserters would form a new organization, the Regional Union of Indigenous Communities, whose activities would be entirely peaceful. Solis said the violence "has created division and uncertainty in our communities," adding, "Now we want a new life, remaking the social thread." (The News, Mexico City, Sept. 29)
The desertions come two weeks after state and federal police arrested over 20 Peace and Justice members in the northern Chiapas town of Tila on charges of homicide, armed robbery and cattle-rustling. The reputed leader of the organization, Sabelino Torres, was among the arrested. Rifles and ammunition were also confiscated. (Reuters, Sept. 13)
6. ...AS ANTI-ZAPATISTA TERROR ESCALATES
A violent struggle to destabilize the the Zapatista "autonomous municipalities," independently-run indigenous communities declared by rebel supporters in Chiapas, left three dead in a single week in late August.
On August 25, Zapatista supporter Antonio Mejia was gunned down in a hamlet outside Chilon village, and local Zapatista authorities blamed a local paramilitary group known as Los Aguilares, reportedly linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) political machine, which controls Chilon's official government. (AP, Aug. 30) On Aug. 27, unidentified gunmen burst into a community meeting at the schoolhouse in the "autonomous municipality" of Ricardo Flores Magon, in the "official" municipality of Ocosingo. The gunmen opened fire, leaving two Flores Magon leaders dead--Lorenzo Martinez and Jacinto Hernandez. PRI leaders in Ocosingo denied involvement, saying the violence was the result of a "family fued." (AP, The News [Mexico City], Aug. 28)
A local priest, Gonzalo Ituarte, blamed the "incredible deterioration" in the situation in Chiapas on the closing of any possibility of a negotiated solution. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of the local diocese warned: "The seed of hate and violence has been sown in many hearts, which makes us fear that, at any moment, we could see the repetition of such terrible events as that of Acteal," the mountain hamlet where 45 unarmed Indians were slain by paramilitary gunmen in December 1997. (AFP, Aug. 30)
7. PARTIAL JUSTICE IN ACTEAL MASSACRE
On Nov. 13, a federal judge upheld 36-year prison terms for 18 gunmen convicted in the 1997 Acteal massacre. But Acteal residents and human rights groups protested that masterminds of the atrocity were still at large--including some in the Mexican army. Silvia Aguilera, director of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, said her group was pleased by the judge's decision, but that prosecutors should have brought charges against army commanders. "It leaves out the criminal responsibility of members of the army who had a base very near Acteal," Aguilera said. Human rights groups in Mexico City and Chiapas agreed that army officers may have aided the gunmen. "They had army weapons," Aguilera said. "Everything seems to indicate they were aided by military officials." (AP, Nov. 13)
See also WW3 REPORT #s 59 , 42
8. U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT WARNS OF RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN CHIAPAS
A new US State Department report on religious freedom in Mexico, while applauding a generally tolerant atmosphere elsewhere in the country, stated that Evangelical converts in Chiapas face "potential political and economic threats." The Evangelical Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Chiapas estimates that 30,000 converts have been expelled from their homes by Catholic village political bosses over the past 40 years. (Milenio, Oct. 11)
9. FAMILY SLAIN IN CHIAPAS WITCH-HUNT
On Sept. 15, four were killed and five wounded when unidentified gunmen burst into the home of a sleeping family in the conflicted Chiapas village of San Juan Chamula. The head of the household, Diego Hernandez Lopez, killed in the attack, was accused by local residents of practicing witchcraft. Among the wounded, listed in critical condition at the hospital in nearby San Cristobal de Las Casas, were a seven-month-old baby and a two-year-old girl. San Cristobal Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, whose diocese includes Chamula, condemned the attack, warning that "taking justice into one's own hands could spark a spiral of violence that nobody can stop." Authorities say 12 men were hacked to death with machetes in Chiapas for practicing witchcraft in the 1990s. (AP, Sept. 17)
See also WW3 REPORT #59
10. VIOLENT SQUATTER CAMP EVICTION IN MEXICO CITY
Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz says he will investigate the violent police eviction of a squatter camp in the Xochimilco nature reserve, and that Police Chief Marcelo Ebrard may be called to testify. Over 700 police destroyed some 80 dwellings and arrested scores in the Oct. 4 raid on the squatter camp of Amalacachico, and met strong resistance from residents. Police said residents hurled Molotov cocktails and even set up a makeshift electric fence that wounded several officers. After the raid, Amalacachico residents marched on Mexico City's central plaza, the Zocalo, to demand the release of arrested family members, as well as the return of their lands. "We are not going to accept being moved somewhere else," said Amalacachico resident Martinez Olivo. "This is our land and we have a right to stay here." Authorities are investigating corrupt real estate agents who fraudulently sold land within the nature reserve. The Xochimilco reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique "chinampas" or floating gardens, a surviving horticultural relic of Aztec times. Over a thousand families are said to be living illegally within the park. Mexico City Mayor Manuel Lopez Obrador of the left-populist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) defended the police action. "Every day the invasion of the ecological reserve becomes more worrisome," he said. "It would be irresponsible to close our eyes and say, 'Let Xochimilco go, let it be urbanized and its waters polluted.'" (The News, Mexico City, Oct. 6, 9, 10)
According to official statistics, over 42,000 families live in Mexico City's "informal" communities, and an estimated 300,000 families in the capital lack decent housing. Every year 45,000 new families arrive in the federal district and its suburbs--mostly in poverty. (The News, Mexico City, Oct. 10)
11. "AUTONOMOUS MUNICIPALITY" DECLARED IN MEXICO STATE
In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the indigenous rights law which had been rejected by the Zapatistas, campesinos in San Salvador Atenco, just outside Mexico City, announced that their town would be declared a Zapatista-style "autonomous municipality"--one of the first outside the state of Chiapas. "We are aware that the government will not recognize this action by the people, but they have no choice but to respect our decision," said the new 14-member People's Council in a statement at the swearing-in ceremony. The council said the decision had been approved by voice vote in neighborhood assemblies. Atenco was the scene of a popular uprising last year when the government announced the seizure of much of the town's communal agricultural lands for a new Mexico City airport. In July, residents clashed with police and took 15 hostages in a five-day stand-off that forced the government to abandon the airport plans. "What they have done is frankly illegal," said former mayor Margarito Yanez, who was forced from office in the anti-airport uprising. (AP, Sept. 11)
See also WW3 REPORT #42
12. "DIRTY WAR" INVESTIGATOR: SECRET GRAVES IN ACAPULCO
President Vicente Fox has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the wave of political assassinations and "disappearances" of left-wing activists during Mexico's "Dirty War" of the late 1960s and '70s. The special prosecutor, Ignacio Carrillo, has met with the families of the missing, and says he believes there was a "well-planned strategy" by "a group of combined security forces" to elminiate the leftist opposition. "I do believe the number of the disappeared could run to between 1,500 and 3,000," he said, adding that he is seeking search warrants to investigate possible clandestine graves in Taxco and Acapulco--both in the southern state of Guerrero, which saw the emergence of small guerilla movements in the late '60s. "There are signs of secret graves, but no exact number," he said. Carrillo did succeed in securing an interview with one former president, Luis Echeverria (1970-6), but said he came away frustrated. "It was his chance to clarify everything and defend himself, if the accusations were just red herrings. His refusal to say anything leads one to believe there may be something behid his silence." Carrillo is now seeking an interview with Echeverria's sucessor, Jose Lopez Portillo. (EFE, Sept. 23)
13. HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN: IMPUNITY CONTINUES
Jose Luis Soberanes, head of Mexico's new National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) told a Mexican senate panel on human rights that the CNDH is virtually powerless, and authorities routinely ignore its recommendations. Of the CNDH's 33 recommendations to federal agencies and state and municipal governments so far this year, none have been fully carried out, Soberanes said. (The News, Mexico City, Sept. 21)
14. MEXICO WITHDRAWS FROM HEMISPHERIC SECURITY TREATY
US Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow criticized the Mexican government for withdrawing from the 1947 Rio Treaty, officially the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (IATRA). Invoking the one-year anniversary of 9-11 as evidence of continuing hemispheric security threats, and acknowledging Mexico's close cooperation with the US on counter-terrorism, Davidow insisted Mexico should not withdraw from IATRA before an alternative is in place. Mexico's withdrawal was announced by the Foriegn Secretariat just one year after President Vicente Fox ordered a review of the treaty. (EFE, Sept. 11)
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