Letter campaign re conditions in Chiapas

From: Gini Conroy

Thu, 15 Feb 2001

On Feb. 8th I sent e-mail and faxed letters to President Bush, Representative Dick Gephardt (who incidentally opposed NAFTA from the beginning) and freshman Senator Jean Carahan. At that time I promised to assail via e-mail our "dinasour" Republican Senator Christopher (Kit) Bond on behalf of our vision and our cause in assisting the Zapatistas and the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Here is a copy of that e-mail"

Dear Senator Bond -

I opposed NAFTA. I have visited Mexico 16 times in my life -- staying there up to 3 months at a time. I have "covered" the country
from the Pacific to the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, with trips to the high remote mountains of the Sierra Mazateca travelling on public buses with the PEOPLE. Staying in the homes of the PEOPLE. I love the people -- THE ORDINARY PEOPLE! The workers, the shopkeepers, the campesinos, the companeros on the public buses that travel the mountain highways through the night -- THE PEOPLE!

I have been following the struggle in the Mexican Southwest (Chiapas and the Zapatista movement) since 1994. I was in Mexico in June of '94 shortly after the start of the movement on 1 Jan 94 and spoke to the ordinary PEOPLE about their feelings. I was there in August of 1996 and watched the Zapatistas "march"; walking and drivimg their old battered cars and trucks in silence and in dignity through the centre of Mexico City, their banners held high! They deserve a voice. They deserve to live in decency and freedom. They deserve to be heard!

I have spoken with these ordinary people and, In short, they felt in '94 and in '96 that NAFTA would be good for US big business and very very bad for the Mexican PEOPLE! I feel that way too. The Zapatistas are against what they call Neo-liberalism. They feel that "globalization" is not creating one big happy world but to the contrary, it is contributing to fragmentation of peoples and nations.

Now, President Fox is proposing the "Puebla-Panama" treaty or pact or whatever it is "named"... which in effect would raise the border of the "Banana Republics" to Puebla and lower the U.S. border to the bottom of Chihuahua State! This is completely unacceptable.

Below I have included a pre-composed letter from people, who like me, have been following the state of affairs in Chiapas from the beginning. From a University in Texas, they monitor the conditions and happenings in Southwest Mexico via the World Wide Web and broadcast messages from there to people all over the world. Ordinary people from all over the world. These people have been to Chiapas and Realidad! Through a website at a University in Texas, they are connecting with ordinary people like me all over the world. This is a groundswell! This is solidarity! This is the true global village! THE PEOPLE!

Please read and heed and do all you can to help! Speak to President Bush about his "relationship" with President Fox and what he intends to do in Mexico! Here is the letter:

"The indigenous communities of Chiapas have been at the forefront of thedemocratization process, but at a great cost. The armed uprising of January1994 lasted only two weeks, but the Mexican government's military response continues, with more than 200 military posts in the state. In addition, state supported paramilitary groups have been given free rein to attack pro-Zapatista communities, resulting in thousands of internal refugees, murders, and outright massacres, such as happened at Acteal in December of 1997, where 45 persons, mostly women and children, were butchered by pro-government paramilitary forces.

The election of President Fox was a turning point, not only in the political history of Mexico, but in the nation's approach to the conflict in Chiapas. The door to peace has been opened, but the conflict is being prolonged by the Mexican government's lack of a clear and full commitment to the peace process.

After years of silence, the Zapatistas have offered to reopen peace negotiations if the government will give them three "signals" of its willingness to dialogue. They have asked for the withdrawal of seven military positions that control access to their centers, the release of persons illegally arrested for supporting the Zapatista movement, and for the implementation of the agreements signed at San Andres on February 16th, 1996, between them and the Mexican government.

These demands are well within the government's reach, and are indispensable to the revival of the peace process. They are not a threat to the security or national integrity of Mexico, as some allege, but rather a first step toward rectifying centuries of discrimination against the indigenouspeople of Mexico.

We urge President Bush to communicate to President Fox the importance of ending the conflict in Chiapas through a civil, negotiated process. The U.S. role of support for the Mexican governmental strategy of low-intensity war must also end. The continuation of U.S. military aid and Mexican military intervention in the area not only undermine efforts toward peace, but weaken the fabric of civil society and incites confrontations. The democratic civil avenues that have only just begun to function must be encouraged and supported, not undermined."

As your constituent, I ask that you intercede with our President on behalf of the people of Mexico and particularly the indigenous communities of Chiapas.

Sincerely,

Virginia L. Conroy
2616 So. Kingshighway
Saint Louis, MO 63139
giniconroy@wildmail.com

READ MORE ABOUT IT
Conflict in Chiapas: Understanding the Modern Mayan World
by Worth H. Weller, Ben Weller (Photographer), Julia Weller (Photographer)
$16.95, Paperback, March 1, 2000
Rebellion in Chiapas : An Historical Reader
by John Womack (Editor)
$14.36, Paperback , March 1999
Voices from Exile : Violence and Survival in Modern Maya History
by Victor Montejo
$18.17, Hardcover, October 1999
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