EZLN statement on press conference

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Summary of the March 13, 2001 Press Conference, Held by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos at 8:10 PM.

- Yesterday, March 12, 2001, the zapatista delegation in the March of Indigenous Dignity held a meeting with legislators from the Commission of Concordance and Peace.

- At this meeting the COCOPA delivered to the EZLN a document which said, verbatim: "The political coordinating committees of the Chamber of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies invite the EZLN to an initial audience with the joint committees of constitutional issues, indigenous matters and legislative matters from both chambers, represented by 10 Senators and 10 Federal Deputies, accompanied by the legislative members of the COCOPA. The attendance of other legislators will be up to them."

- In a clear lack of respect, the document which was delivered was not on any letterhead nor did it have any signatures, as if it were anonymous or could leave open the possibility of its authenticity being denied.

- In the case that the document is authentic, the EZLN rejects the proposed format. This demonstrates that the legislators are not listening to the cries of the people of Mexico and of national and international public opinion, and that there is an attempt to reduce the historical dimension of the national and international mobilization.

- The proposal reflects a victory for the most "hard-line" groups in the Congress, who are trying to torpedo the dialogue process even before it has begun, to shoot it down before it reaches the Congress, and to corner the EZLN in an intransigent position, putting off what cannot be postponed: the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.

The proposal is very low profile, and it is unacceptable. The proposal is humiliating and unworthy. It relegates an historic demand to the level of appearances by second level officials. It ignores the conditions of the country. Faced with a national consensus, it is hardly serious for the Congress to come out with a proposal for meetings in the dark.

- We do not accept a humiliating dialogue with the legislative branch, limited to a corner and with a reduced group of legislators whose function will be to prevent the CNI and the zapatistas from engaging in dialogue with the entire legislative branch. Because it must be remembered that laws are made by the full houses, and not just by 10 Deputies and 10 Senators.

- The EZLN demands to engage in dialogue with all the legislators, even with those who have openly expressed themselves against the COCOPA law and who have threatened us in various ways, and with the committees entrusted with reporting. Dialogue with the legislators must take place. That is why the EZLN is demanding to be able to speak at the full session of the Congress of the Union. The EZLN has carried out relevant consultations with specialists in jurisprudence, and no legal impediment exists.

1) There are precedents in which non-legislators have made use of the platform. Foreign dignitaries as well as Mexicans have done so. Among them, Gregorio "Goyo" Ca'rdenas.
2) The key is a parliamentary agreement. 3) There is no article which prohibits it.

- We know that there is the fear in the Congress that, if the EZLN makes use of the platform, it will speak against the Congress, or it will call for insurrection. The EZLN is going to explain the good of the COCOPA law to the legislators and resolve their doubts and listen to their comments. The EZLN is not going to replace the Congress in its work.

- The EZLN exhorts the federal legislative branch to behave responsibly and to not shy away from its commitment to the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture and to the peace process.

The Congress should decide whether it views the demand for the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture as a priority matter, or whether is deciding to put it off as if it were something of secondary importance. The proposal which we received demonstrates that there is no interest and no willingness.

- If the Congress does not see what the country is demanding, then who will do so? It will mean the total divorce between the power and the nation.

- Regarding Fox, the trap of his purported "goodwill" is being revealed. Conditioning military withdrawal on the results of dialogue with the Congress is a violation of the separation of powers and it is an open threat against the EZLN.

- We are telling the COCOPA that we consider it appropriate for them to remain on the sidelines, because it can be seen that they are trying to destroy it, using it as an errand boy for insulting and anonymous messages, instead of according it the position, as we indeed do, of coadvisor in the peace process.

- The EZLN will maintain contacts with the COCOPA through its liaison, the architect Fernando Ya~ez, and it will seek new avenues for engaging in dialogue with the Congress of the Union.

After this, a question and answer period followed.

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