Call for massive mobilization in support of indigenous rights

vieuxcmaq, Miércoles, Diciembre 6, 2000 - 12:00

George Salzman (

Dramatic developments in Mexico since December 1 call for world-wide support for the Zapatistas, and for the new president to continue acting as he has pledged to do and as the Mexican people want him to do.

A call for mass mobilization

Wednesday, December 6, 2000

We have a unique opportunity to add our voices, our solidarity, our dreams, to the great popular movement emerging in Mexico. On Friday, December 1, Vicente Fox Quesada became president, and immediately began to make those changes that the overwhelming majority of Mexican people clearly wanted when they threw out the long-ruling corrupt and dictatorial PRI in the federal election last July 2. One short day after Fox's inauguration, on Saturday the 2nd, the Zapatistas issued four communiques setting forth their conditions for resumption of the dialogue for peace, which Ernesto Zedillo, Fox's predecessor, had sabotaged. Brief, direct, and forceful with the moral authority they have well earned, the Zapatistas "laid it on the line." And Fox responded positively, saying his government would comply. The Zapatista communiques, well worth reading, are available in English. The four communiques are at:





Two days from now, on Friday the 8th, in what is at least as stunning a victory as that at the federal level, opposition candidate Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía will assume the governorship of the State of Chiapas, long a stronghold of murderous PRI power, until the people voted them out last August 20. Like Fox, Pablo Salazar seems truly committed to work for peace with dignity.


EZLN Communique 1 reads in part:

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
Brothers and sisters:

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation [EZLN] . . . calls on the National Indigenous Congress, on national and international civil society, on political and social organizations and on everyone in general, to a great mobilization for the purpose of obtaining the Mexican Congress of the Union's constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture, according to the Cocopa proposal. . . .

. . . we are calling on the National Indigenous Congress, and on all the Indian peoples of Mexico - independent of their political affiliation -to organize themselves, mobilize and come together with our delegation, in order to demand the recognition of indigenous rights and culture from the Congress of the Union.

. . . we are calling on Mexican civil society to organize themselves and to mobilize in order to support this demand.

. . . we are calling on solidarity committees, groups and individuals throughout the world to speak out regarding this demand.

I sent the following e-mail, which explains a little more fully, why I believe we should act now.

Subject: Call for a massive mobilization

Sunday morning, December 3, 2000, Oaxaca

Friday and Saturday have been absolutely fantastic here in Mexico. The enormous press of civil society, expressed forcefully in the July 2nd vote that ousted the PRI from the presidency after 71 years, is beginning to bear fruit. The air is electric with hope. Fox is acting decisively and -- so far -- flawlessly, to do what the Mexican people want, beginning with cessation of military harrassment of the Zapatista base support communities in Chiapas. And the EZLN high command, wise with experience of governmental deceit and its knowledge of Mexican history, is ready to give the Fox government a chance to prove itself. Marcos is planning to make a trip to Mexico City. The overwhelming majority of Mexican people want the indigenous peoples to live with dignity, and Fox has committed himself repeatedly to achieve this possibility, starting with implementation of the San Andréas Accords. It will not be easy for him to reverse himself, in the face of his clear mandate.

So far, so far, Vicente Fox appears to be an honest man. I believe he deserves full support for his effort to change the course of Mexican history. But he is, like Nader, an avowed capitalist. He seems to believe it possible to respect human rights in a capitalist-dominated society. Whether he (and his advisors) are very shrewd, as Harry Cleaver's statement on the global site yesterday tended to suggest, and will try to replace brutal military and paramilitary force with economic coercion, or whether he simply does not understand the dynamics of global capitalism, remains to be seen.

This is a key moment for organized civil society, not just in Mexico but in the rest of the world as well, to applaud and support every positive iniciative of the Fox administration, and, at the same time, to attempt to persuade him, and more importantly, the vast majority of all people, that it will not be possible to achieve lives of health and dignity, in an ecologically stable world, for Mexicans or anyone else, unless capitalism is replaced by systems of mutual aid.

In an effort to help mobilize civil society (and to try to persuade Fox), I wrote an open letter that gives my understanding of the reality facing Mexico. It is posted (in English) at

and (in Spanish) at

Anyone who wishes to use it as is, or modified, can easily do so.

In the struggle,

Finally, to help give a sense of the vital, dynamic changes in these last days, here is La Jornada's Monday editorial (my translation).

Dynamics of Peace

La Jornada, lunes 4 de diciembre de 2000

In the last three days the circumstances of the Chiapas conflict have been marked by more advances towards peace than in the last four years.

On taking office as President the first of December, Vicente Fox announced that he would send to Congress the document drawn up by the first Commission of Agreement and Pacification (COCOPA) in order to convert the accords of San Andrés Larráinzar into constitutional and legal reforms.

That announcement, as well as the withdrawal of military check points from the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, which began that same Friday, were responded to one day later by the leadership of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), which, through Marcos, communicated its conditions for returning to the dialogue --converting the San Andrés accords into law, withdrawing the Army from the conflict zones, freeing the Zapatista prisoners and annulling the expropriation decree signed by Ernesto Zedillo for converting land of the Amador Hernández community into a military zone-- and announced its determination to send an important delegation to Mexico City, next February, in order to press for Congressional adoption of the COCOPA iniciative. Yesterday Fox celebrated the response of the indigenous rebels and expressed his government's intention to fulfill the conditions put forward by the Zapatistas for returning to the dialogue.

To those positive and encouraging signs must be added other indications of the easing of tension: the inclination of the members of COCOPA to support dialogue between members of the Legislature and representatives of the rebels, as well as the announcement of the Governor-elect of Chiapas, Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía, to the effect that he is studying, right now, the files of the Zapatistas imprisoned in Cerro Hueco in order to free them as soon as possible, once he assumes the governorship next December 8th.

This favorable dynamic, which makes the realization of peace with justice in Chiapas appear possible, and which opens prospects of a new relationship of the Mexican State with the indigenous communities, must not remain restricted to an exchange among Zapatistas, federal and local Executives and Legislatures, but deserves the backing and participation of society, which with its mobilizations prevented at various times in the conflict a warlike escalation that would have had terrible consequences for the country.

Finally, the encouraging signs of peace and lessening of tension offered at the moment contrast with the indifference and official provocation that characterized the Zedillo policy towards Chiapas during the entire past six-year term. It is relevant to keep in mind those and other expressions of presidential self-centeredness and arrogance, to guarantee that similar attitudes are never repeated in any social drama like that of the indigenous Chiapanecos.

The Spanish original of the editorial is at:

We should never give up hope of making the world a better place for everyone, and never give up thinking about how to do it. --George

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