'Zapatista Tour' Ends in Surrender/ Fox Delivers on CampaignPromise

Tony Abdo aabdo at SPAMwebtv.net
Sat Mar 31 11:16:32 MST 2001

The acceptance of becoming a 'political movement' represents a historic
and deadly defeat for the EZLN.       Their authority had rested on much
more than feathery rhetoric, but also on the idea of armed resistance to
a dictatorship.

News reports show that the Zapatista leadership has decided to abandon
armed struggle, because it had become much more difficult to maintain
after the marginalization of the PRD, and Cardenas, in the federal
election last July.

At that time Fox was handed the presidency on a golden platter,  through
the combined efforts of the US government, the dominant wing of the PRI,
and the Mexican ruling class in their efforts to legitimize their rule
in international eyes.      In this, they have been successful.

The integration of the PRD into accepting its role as being a Social
Democratic short term adminstrator of the Distrito Federal, has now been
followed by the EZLN agreement to exchange a self-declared 'trumphal
march (or tour) to the capital, in exchange for any really solid success
in changing the political situation in Mexico.

Any verbal agreements between Fox and Marcos, lack any ability of the
EZLN to back up actual enforcement.     This surrender by the Zapatistas
was negociated from out of political weakness, and not strength.

Further, it helps the ruling elite consolidate its new dictatorshp of 2
political parties, the PAN and the PRI.      Misleadership in both the
PRD and the EZLN has led to a historic defeat for the Mexican people, in
their struggle to throw off imperialist directed tyranny.       It helps
create the appearance of a legitimacy in the new Mexican government..

Tony Abdo
__________________________________  Two news items follow.....
Commanders of Mexico's Zapatista rebel movement have made an
unprecedented appearance in the country's parliament.

Screened live on TV, 23 of the Zapatistas, wearing their trademark
masks, said that they would continue their campaign for equal rights for
Mexico's Indians with political means. Conspicuously absent was their
self-styled leader 'Subcomandante Marcos', who's led the armed Zapatista
insurgency from the start.

With this call for a dialogue, the guerrilla war appears to have come to
an end. A bill giving limited autonomy to the indigenous Indians now
lies before Congress.

The Zapatistas' long-expected appearance in Mexico's parliament is of
great significance. For the first time since 1994, when the Zapatista
National Liberation Front (EZLN) launched its uprising, lawmakers
listened to the arguments of what has become the mouthpiece of the
country's indigenous population.

One of the main Zapatista speakers was Commander Esther. She called for
recognition of the Indian language and respect for their culture. She
told lawmakers about the suffering of Mexico's Indians as a result of
social inequality and suppression. In their southern state of Chiapas,
she said, Indians don't even have access to clean drinking water,
electricity, health care or education.

Shown live on national television, the special session of parliament
attracted wide interest from Mexican viewers and the media. But a number
of lawmakers, including several member
 The Zapatistas marched unarmed to the capital from their jungle
hide-out in southern Chiapas to the capital Mexico City.

Members from President Fox's National Action Party, did not attend. They
refused to listen to the representatives of the indigenous people, let
alone talk to masked insurgents.

Conspicuously absent on the part of the Zapatistas was 'Subcomandante
Marcos', the Mexican indigenous movement's intellectual standard bearer.
The Zapatistas chose to let their elected political leader, Comandante
Esther, address parliament. The EZLN clearly want to present itself as a
political movement, distinct from its military wing, which
'Subcommander' Marcos represents.

Positive Response
Reactions to the special Congressional session were mainly positive.
President Vicente Fox called it a major step towards peace. For his
part, Subcommander Marcos said the Zapatistas would not leave the
Federal District empty-handed.

The President was quick to embark on a political dialogue with the
Zapatistas, ordering the release of all imprisoned rebels. In addition,
he's pulling out a large part of the army from state of Chiapas, the
main Zapatista stronghold.

With their appearance in parliament, the main Zapatista demand has been
honoured, and now they are returning to Chiapas. The rebels have made a
mjaor move towards peace. Now it's up to congress to make another move
and pass the indigenous rights bill.

Friday March 30, 6:33 AM
Zapatistas join Mexican government in saying peace is in sight.
MEXICO CITY, March 29 (AFP) -
Fresh from a widely hailed appearance before the Mexican Congress,
Zapatista rebels Thursday joined President Vicente Fox in saying peace
is in sight now that talks are under way.

"Peace is on its way, dialogue has formally restarted," said "comandante
German," the founder of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN)
who was named Wednesday as the insurgency's point man in the peace

German made the comments after holding informal talks with presidential
adviser Fernando Elizondo only a day after the masked rebels set the
markers for the peace process during their historic appearance before

"The weapons have been set aside and almost forgotten now that dialogue
with the government has started," said German, whose real name is
Fernando Yanez, and who is the only EZLN leader not to hide his identity
behind a black mask.

German already had held preliminary talks Wednesday night with the
government's peace commissioner for the Chiapas conflict, Luis Alvarez.
The insurgents received praise from across the political spectrum for
setting the peace process on track by agreeing to hold talks with the
government for the first time since 1996.

Fox himself welcomed the overtures. "We are firmly on the way toward
peace agreements," he said on Wednesday, shortly after the rebels
addressed lawmakers in the lower House.
For the first time, the leftist rebels also recognized the president's
peace overtures.

Fox has come out in support of an indigenous rights bill, has ordered
the closure of seven military bases in Chiapas and has liberated dozens
of prisoners in partial compliance with the EZLN's three conditions for

The president earlier had come under sharp attack from his conservative
National Action Party (PAN) for giving in to the rebels' demands and for
backing their request to address Congress.

Most PAN lawmakers boycotted Wednesday's session, but later conceded it
had opened the way for peace talks.
"One must recognize without reservations that the session was positive,"
Felipe Calderon, the leader of the PAN faction in the lower House, told
the Reforma daily.

His counterpart in the Senate, Diego Fernandez, said the Zapatistas'
recognition of Fox's overtures "can be considered as a positive gesture
to restart dialogue and the search for peace."

Peace talks stalled in September 1996 after the insurgents accused the
government of failing to act on the San Andres Accords reached at the
negotiating table a few months earlier.

The accords form the basis for the bill currently before Congress, which
would give a certain degree of autonomy to Mexico's 10 million
indigenous people.

Wednesday's unprecedented congressional session marked the culmination
of a major public relations drive by the Zapatistas to promote the bill.

The Zapatista leaders had traveled to Mexico City earlier in the month
in an attention-getting road tour from Chiapas joined by hundreds of
The charismatic Marcos, who was widely seen as the star of the caravan,
stayed away from Wednesday's session. Zapatistas said the absence of
Marcos, the movement's military leader, underlined the Zapatistas'
commitment to peace.

The insurgents also appeared keen to demonstrate the EZLN is an
indigenous-led movement. Marcos is among the few non-indigenous leaders
of the insurgency.

Addressing a rally after the session, the media-savvy Marcos said the
rebels had completed their mission in the capital and were preparing to
head home.

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