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Dialogue as the means for a solution to the conflicts
is one of the most important losses


Mexico, 1998

Above and below: masks and silence

Part V. The seven victims of the new government strategy in Chiapas

Communique from Subcommander Marcos
Chiapas, Mexico

Translated from the Spanish by Irlandesa for Nuevo Amanecer Press.
Original communique published in Mexico in La Jornada.

V. The seven victims of the new government strategy in Chiapas

Comandante Zedillo's military campaign has been brilliant. Accompanying him in this bellicose enterprise have been Senor Labastida as chief of his Great State, Senor Rabasa is it that Senor Rabasa does?, good, Senora Rosario Green in the service of not very simultaneous (nor very reliable) translation, and the senor? Albores Guillen as Field Marshall.

Besides filling the Chiapas jails (having been previously emptied of the paramilitaries) with zapatista indigenous and members of civil society, besides promoting the use of the indigenous' huts as target practice for the federal Army, besides practicing summary executions which do not require envy from those practiced by military dictatorships around the world (an advantage of globalization?), besides having tied the name of "Mexico" to the blood-stained "Acteal":, "Chavajeval,' and "Union Progreso," besides having brought terror, misery and the lie to the Indian lands of Mexico, Comandante Zedillo and his team are wearing seven medals for the other victims they claimed.

Yes, there are seven victims of their war: peace, dialogue as the means for solution of the conflicts, the indigenous, national and international civil society, the movement towards democracy, the Commission of Concordance and Peace and the National Commission of Intermediation.

Continuing his personal fight against the zapatista rebels, Zedillo doesn't just take peace prisoner of war, which was there for the taking, he also attacked the hope for any future peace.

The dialogue as the means for a solution to the conflicts is one of the most important losses of the war in southeastern Mexico. By failing to carry out the Accords which he signed, Zedillo shattered confidence in his government. Without confidence, it is impossible to reach accords. And if it is not possible to reach accords, why have dialogue?

For their part, the indigenous have been converted into the primary share of "triumphs" of Zedillo in Chiapas: no other regime has been responsible, directly and indirectly, for so many deaths, prisoners, tortures, expulsions, displacements and disappearances of chiapeneco indigenous as the current one.

Government warfare claimed another victim in national and international civil soviety, by ignoring its calls for dialogue and peace.

One more victim is the transition to democracy, which finds itself halted by a political system disposed for a bloodbath, so that it will not lose its privileges.

Only a nostalgic memory remains of national sovereignty. In its place are foreign military advisors, foreign arms, foreign combat tactics, foreign MRE's, foreign combat equipment. In the war in Chiapas the only thing that is national is the blood that is spilled.

Two other victims merit special mention: one was dragged away dying, the other lies irredeemably dead.

The first is the Commission of Concordance and Peace, formed by federal legislators of all the political parties with representation in the Congress of the Union. The Cocopa has beem avoided, mocked, used, despised, humiliated and forgotten by the government. In his perverse and lethal game, Ernesto Zedillo feigned to the Cocopa his willingness to accept the legislators' offices to achieve, efficiently and rapidly, peace in southeastern Mexico. By withdrawing his acceptance of the initiative for the indigenous law, prepared by the Cocopa, the government made a fool of the legislators and robbed them of all moral authority to appear in front of the zapatista leadership. Afterwards, Zedillo set about battering the "cocopos" who did not align themselves with his war plans (that is, almost all of them), only to then ignore the commission for the long period during which he planned and executed the massive assassination of indigenous perpetrated in Acteal in December of 1997. In short, the government has treated the Cocopa with ridicule, traps, blows and sabotage.

The EZLN will not do the same.

Simultaneous with the sabotages against the Cocopa, Government busied itself with assassinating and incarcerating more indigenous, and in fighting a total war against the National Commission of Intermediation (Conai) and, especially, against its President, the Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia. Ultimately, words and contradictions. Labastida says what Rabasa retracts, Zedillo corrects both of them. Rabasa clarifies Zedillo, Labastida scolds Rabasa, in short, a confusion of masks and roles which would make one laugh if it weren't that it hides a brutal and uneven war.

After suffering a long and intense campaign of attacks and lies, the National Commission of Intermediation (recognized by the parties, EZLN and the federal government, as the mechanism for mediation in the peace dialogue) was dissolved.

Take note of these names: Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Dona Concepcion Calvillo Viuda de Nava, Doctor Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Doctor Raymundo Sanchez Barraza, poet Juan Banuelos, poet Oscar Oliva (these six as members), and Pedro Nava, Salvador Reyes, Gonzalo Ituarte and Miguel Alvarez as secretaries. The 10 formed the National Commission of Intermediation, one of the primary objectives for destruction by the government's war strategy.

Their crimes? All of them unpardonable: fight for peace with justice and dignity, represent national civil society as mediator in the conflict, believe firmly in dialogue as the solution to disputes, not submit to the government's orders, maintain autonomy and independence with respect to the parties, think that peace in Mexico must necessarily pass through the transition to democracy, commit oneself to the side of the Indians in their peaceful struggles and (the worst of all their crimes) make themselves into an obstacle to war.

For months these persons were the victims of attacks of all kinds, including attempts on their lives, property and liberty. For months they suffered the pressures of all the apparatus of the Mexican state; federal, state and municipal governments; the Army, police and paramilitaries; the two television monopolies and the local press; businesses; federal and local deputies; the high hierarchies of the Catholic and evangelical churches. Millions and millions of pesos wasted in smear campaigns against them.

All the political, economic, ecclesiastical and military power against these 10 persons and, particularly, against Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, the bishop of the diocese of San Cristobal.

On June 7, 1998, the seventh victim fell in front of the advance of the Zedillo war machine. Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia resigned from the CONA,I and it was dissolved. With the disappearance of the Conai, a fierce resistance against authoritarianism, crime and intolerance was ended, but the search for peace has not ended for them.

But the machine did not stop with the resignation of the president of the Conai. Senor Ernesto Zedillo was not satisfied with seeing Bishop Ruiz Garcia out of mediation in the conflict. No, he wanted to see him disappeared, erased, dead. With malice he nurtured the opportunity to get him completely out of his sight, if the attempt had failed once, there would still be other opportunities. After all, if a cardinal could be assassinated (Posadas Ocampo) with no punishment for the crime, it would be easy to take care of an inconvenient bishop and one could continue without problems. And this is not one of those bad jokes that Zedillo likes to torture his cabinet with, no, the bitterness had beeen converted in this man into a truly personal style of government. And as for personal revenge, "he knows how to do it."

Time and again, in each of his conjugal visits made to the next former interim Governor Albores Guillen, Senor Zedillo attacked, viciously and cowardly, the man who took peace and justice as flags, and who spared neither effort nor pain to complete his work with honesty, and which is, at the end of the day, the work of all human beings who respect themselves: to struggle for justice, respect and dignity.

This country owes these persons not a little. Although a chapter has ended in southeastern Mexico, national history reserves them a place alongside the best. Long afterwards, when Zedillo is forgotten or in jail for his innumerable crimes, the names of these persons will still hold a very special place in the hearts of all those Mexicans who are now from below, especially the indigenous.

Although outside this stage of the struggle, the "conaitas" have left it clear that they will continue struggling in different forms and in different places for the same thing: for justice for the Mexican indigenous, for the transition to democracy and for peace.

However, the seven victims of the government's war are multiplied in other combatants who are resisting. They remember yesterdays histories in the today, like that which speaks of...

Forward to Stories of the Little Horse of the Sea

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