Local non-aggression pact signed in Chenalho, Chiapas

November 21, 2000, Tuesday

by Estefania Cundapi

published by Mexican newspaper 'El Economista' web site on 17th November

Chenalho, Chiapas: Sixty-nine municipal policemen [Spanish: agentes], representatives of religious organizations and political party leaders have signed a pact pledging not to attack members of the Catholic group "Las Abejas" [The Bees] or the Zapatist National Liberation Army (EZLN). At the meeting, called by Mayor Antonio Perez Arias, the Indians analysed the report on the operation conducted last Sunday [12th November] and reaffirmed their commitments to respect each other.

The municipal policemen expressed their opinions of the statement by the representative of Los Chorros, Agustin Gomez Perez, concerning the Judicial Police action in this community, in particular the entering of homes.

At the meeting community representatives said that they opposed the way in which the operation was conducted and then addressed the issues of defence of municipal autonomy and reaffirmation of the agreement on non-aggression and the return of displaced persons.

The general coordinator for the Highlands and Jungle of Chiapas of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH), Alejandro Souza Bravo, said that he was pleased by the reaffirmation of the commitments because this, in his opinion, will unquestionably further peace.

He emphasized that this action would lead to the sort of protection and security measures that are needed so that all residents of the municipality can live in peace and tranquillity.

He said that the CNDH is ready 24 hours a day to receive complaints about violations of the individual liberties of Indians, regardless of party affiliation. "Our commitment is to everyone," he went on to say.

Perez Arias, in turn, said that, although there have been clashes between supporters of various parties in the region, the appropriate investigations are under way at present in order to solve the cases.

He felt that unity and reconciliation were needed in order to achieve definitive peace, adding that "the policemen have said that it makes no sense for us as Indian brothers to be enemies", a stance that the people at the gathering backed.

In a subsequent interview, the mayor deplored the incident last Sunday and reaffirmed that at no time were the resources provided by the federal and state governments used to purchase weapons, as the displaced persons are saying.

"I am not aware that there are paramilitary groups in this municipality nor do I really know whether they exist in Chiapas. We are doing our job and the proof of this is the meeting, where we reaffirmed our non-aggression commitment in response to the provocation of the displaced persons," he said.

Separately, the coordinator for the Highlands and Jungle of Chiapas of the National Commission for Human Rights expressed confidence that the accord that was signed would further an easing of tensions among local Indians and bring hope of reconciliation. He stressed that a reconciliation process could take place through talks between the two sides and he acknowledged that the latest development is another step towards peace in the state of Chiapas.

In Tuxtla Gutierrez, the representative of the Chiapas Congress to the Harmony and Pacification Commission (Cocopa), Fernando Correa Suarez, said that the lack of dialogue in Chiapas has limited what the commission is able to do. In an interview he ruled out the possibility that the members of the commission would visit the state at any time in the near future to evaluate the situation there, because it will not be officially established and its chairman will not be named until 23rd November.

The state deputy said that the EZLN, by refusing to resume the peace talks, is trying to maintain the current "status quo" in Chiapas.

Source: 'El Economista' web site, Mexico City, in Spanish 17 Nov 00

Conflict in Chiapas: Understanding the Modern Mayan World
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Voices from Exile : Violence and Survival in Modern Maya History
by Victor Montejo
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