The Financial Connection

"While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy."
Mexico Political Update, January 13, 1995, Chase Manhattan's Emerging Markets Group Memo, by Riordan Roett

"Investors appear to have been willing to take huge sums of money belonging to clients who may not have fully understood what is at stake, and to use those sums not just to bet on emerging markets but to leverage governments into potentially disastrous policies because those policies would maximize short-term profits. But when the bubble bursts at least in part because of those policies, we find them expressing their "expert" judgment that the United States should come to the rescue."
Douglas Payne, New Republic, "How Investment Bankers Ruined Mexico," March 13, 1995

Monday, February 9th will mark the third anniversary of the assault of the Mexican military against Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. The offensive came just days after President Clinton, by means of an Executive order, expedited a $50 billion bailout package in order to stave off the collapse of the Mexican economy and to protect increasing US financial interests. The CIA assisted Mexican authorities in gathering intelligence to develop the rationale for the arrest of EZLN leadership. Zedillo announced the arrests which justified the penetration of many Zapatista villages during a press conference. The timing of the infamous Chase Manhattan memo, the US bailout and the February offensive against the Zapatistas began to expose the very real connections that the US and its financial interests have in maintaining "social and political stability" in Mexico. The stranglehold began; the tanks rolled in, and terror and instability came with them. The full year of self-governance which the Zapatistas had used to carry out such "radical" measures as the "elimination of drug and alcohol use" and the election of their own authorities came to an end with the military presence. A destructive siege began to form a river of blood.

During the reign of interim governor Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro from February 14, 1995 to January 7th 1998, more than 1,500 indigenous campesinos were assassinated, an average of 15 per week. In just the highlands region of Chiapas (including the municipalities of San Andres and Chenalho), more than 800 people have now fallen victim to the paramilitary groups supported by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the federal and state governments. (Joshua Paulson, *ZAPATISMO NEWS UPDATE*--Special Report on the Massacre of Chenalho).

In a weekly news magazine Proceso, journalist Carlos Marin printed excerpts from a Mexican Army document that lays out a government strategy for the creation of paramilitary "self-defense" forces in Chiapas in order to undermine the civilian support base for the EZLN. Yet in a statement made by the Secretary of National Defense on January 21st , Mexican General Enrique Cervantes Aguirre, clearly denies finding evidence of any armed paramilitary group stating that "their existence is one existing version". The Army is proceeding to enter Zapatista communities in a search for weapons because, Aguirre says they will "continue to apply the Firearms and Explosives Law without exception". . The Law for Dialogue which provides for the disarmament of the EZLN as a result of the negotiation process is again nullified .

At the same time a leader of an identified paramilitary group "Peace and Justice" which issued at least 50 death threats before carrying out the attempt on Bishop Samuel Ruiz's life holds a press conference claiming they are neither armed nor a paramilitary group. Zedillo and his Foreign Relations Minister denounce any "foreign intervention" in reaction to the international outcry about the massacre.

"Intervention" does not appear to include the $60.2 billion of US investment in Mexico, NAFTA or U.S. military assistance given under the guise of the "war on drugs." Chillingly, this type of U.S. intervention designed the destruction suffered by Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador. U.S. military resources prop up brutal dictatorships, protect U.S. investments and sustain counter-insurgency efforts. As one commentator from MSNBC noted in reference to the massacre and continuing violence in Chiapas, "the CIA has left its footprints-again allying itself with questionable elements within a foreign country's military." ("Planning the CIA's Next Secret War," Michael Moran, MSNBC)

The implication of all these facts are lost in the orchestrations of spin-doctors. This is a war which follows the pattern of Guatemala where more than 150,000 people lost their lives. All evidence signals that this pattern of war will continue as far as its conductors are concerned.

National Commission for Democracy in Mexico
moonlight@igc.apc.org

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