The open letter to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) issued yesterday by the Secretary of Government, Diodoro Carrasco, and presented as "a proposal for one more step to solve the conflict in Chiapas" - marks an important change in the tone the Secretary has been using in addressing the chiapaneco indigenous rebels, and in speaking of them. The document released yesterday contrasts - through its positive style, and for its recognition of the EZLN - with the many invectives, sharp remarks and surly words expressed by Carrasco's predecessors, Emilio Chuayfett and Francisco Labastida, against that organization. The statement by the current head of the Department of Government admits - it is a good start - "the sensitivity that prevails" in the conflict zone and the need for "restoring confidence between the parties," as a first step in the renewal of dialogue.
It is unlikely, unfortunately, that the official document will be able to achieve those objectives, since it is lacking in proposals to counteract the two central causes of the loss of confidence and the stalemate in the dialogue: the military and police harassment launched by the government in February 1995 against the zapatista communities - and maintained, with varying intensity, up to this time - and the failure of the federal Executive to carry out its word given in the San Andres Accords.
Carrasco's proposal makes no mention whatsoever of the serious militarization in the conflict zone, of the multiple attacks against various rebel indigenous towns by military and police forces (federal and state), nor of the proliferation and strengthening of paramilitary groups, nor of the continuous narrowing of the military encirclement, which has represented - for quite some time - the primary factor in the tension and mistrust, in addition to the fact that it has damaged and profoundly distorted the social fabric in the region. This ominous deployment has not served to prevent incidents such as the Acteal massacre, and it has provoked bloody attacks such as those in El Bosque, and, very recently, in Nueva Esperanza.
Regarding the San Andres Accords, it is worth remembering that they were signed by the government's representatives, and the the Secretary of Government at that time, Emilio Chuayfett, later accepted the proposal for legal reforms in matters of indigenous rights and culture drawn up by the Commission of Concordance and Peace (Cocopa) based on those accords. Days later, however, the Executive refused to recognize that document. They then began preparing, unilaterally, a new proposal for legal reforms that represents a distorted version of the San Andres text.
If the government truly wants to reestablish lost confidence, to express their willingness to reactivate the peace process and to fully carry out the Law of Concordance and Peace, it will have to change its attitude towards the issues mentioned above. From this perspective, the initiative presented yesterday - independently of the good will it may contain and its undeniably positive aspects - appears insufficient to affect the building of a just and dignified peace for Chiapas.
Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada ___________________________ Translated by irlandesa