Marcos on Fox (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at
Fri Dec 1 18:49:03 MST 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Washington Post - December 1, 2000
> Rebel Steals Mexican's Spotlight
> By Kevin Sullivan
> MEXICO CITY, Nov. 30 -- The Mexican guerrilla leader known as
> Subcommander Marcos has surfaced on the eve of President-elect
> Vicente Fox's inauguration, blasting outgoing President Ernesto
> Zedillo as a "nightmare" and threatening to provide Fox with the
> first major challenge of his presidency.
> In an open letter to Zedillo written from Marcos's hideout in "the
> mountains of southeast Mexico," the ski-masked rebel leader accused
> Zedillo of aggravating the six-year-old rebel uprising in Chiapas,
> Mexico's southernmost state on the border with Guatemala.
> Marcos said Zedillo waged war rather than negotiating with the
> rebels, specifically blaming Zedillo for the massacre of 45
> indigenous women and children by paramilitary units in the town of
> Acteal in December 1997.
> "You did everything you could to destroy us, and we resisted," wrote
> Marcos, who had made no public statements since Fox was elected July
> 2. "You will go into exile, and we are still here."
> Marcos has reappeared on the public scene at a delicate time for Fox,
> as heads of state and business leaders from around the world arrive
> for his inauguration Friday.
> Fox has pledged to resolve the Chiapas conflict. Immediately after
> his swearing-in, he is expected to announce a partial withdrawal of
> army troops from the conflict area, as well as economic aid for
> Chiapas's impoverished Indians. Fox also intends to announce
> government support for a 1994 peace accord with the rebels that
> Zedillo's government failed to ratify.
> But while Marcos offered no criticism of Fox in his letter, he
> offered no support either, despite Fox's repeated pledges to
> negotiate with his Zapatista rebels. "For us, the nightmare ends
> today," Marcos said of Zedillo's term. "Another could follow, or it
> could be a new dawn."
> Fox has been criticized for raising public expectations
> unrealistically with promises on a broad range of issues, including
> Chiapas. A rebuke by Marcos could add to Fox's problems in his first
> days in office.
> "It's really going to be the first challenge to his campaign
> promises," said Beatriz Mariscal Hay, a professor at Colegio de
> Mexico.
> On a weekend when Fox will be crisscrossing the country celebrating
> his inauguration, Marcos, who has a flair for the dramatic, has
> stolen some of Fox's thunder by inviting the media to a news
> conference in the Chiapas jungle on Saturday afternoon.
> Fox will use part of his inaugural address to respond to Marcos's
> letter, said Luis H. Alvarez, Fox's adviser on the Chiapas conflict.
> Alvarez praised Marcos and the Zapatistas for keeping the plight of
> Mexico's indigenous people in the public eye. "We have to keep in
> mind our obligation to lighten the load for millions of our Mexican
> brothers," he said.
> The rebels have lost considerable public support since they began
> their movement with an armed uprising in Chiapas on New Year's Day
> 1994. While many Mexicans remain sympathetic to the issues that led
> to the uprising--particularly the extreme poverty in much of the
> state--Marcos and his rebels have lost much of the romantic luster
> they once had. Many Mexicans simply want the conflict resolved.
> Still, human rights groups say violence in Chiapas has worsened since
> the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was toppled in the
> July elections. Fox is the first non-PRI president in 71 years, and
> Chiapas also elected its first non-PRI governor in decades, Pablo
> Salazar, who takes office Dec. 8.
> "There is clear evidence that the situation in Chiapas is rapidly
> deteriorating," Amnesty International said recently. "Entire
> communities have been displaced, and many people within the region
> have seen their loved ones face violent death, arbitrary detention,
> torture, disappearance and death threats."
> Human rights activist Sylvia Aguilera Garcia said that many of the
> paramilitary groups responsible for the worst violence in the Chiapas
> conflict have been controlled by the PRI. Now that the party is no
> longer in power, "We are afraid there will be no control over
> paramilitary groups," she said.

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