Press Release of the Advisory Group of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

To the People of Mexico
To the Mass Media

The advisory group of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), a body integrated by persons representing a wide variety of viewpoints, coming from indian communities and a vast spectrum of social and non-governmental organizations, declares its support and understanding of the EZLN's decision to withdraw from the talks in San Andres Sacamch'en de los Pobres until conditions guaranteeing a meaningful and constructive negotiating process are established.

Since October 1995 we have been present in the talks of San Andres,invited by the EZLN within the framework of the Law for Peace and Concord. The central objective of this law is the solution of the problems behind the armed conflict of January 1994. We consider the Federal Government has violated both, the spirit and the explicit terms of this law, attempting to transform the talks of San Andres into a simulation and, in fact, a front that enables the Government to pursue preparations for a military solution to the conflict.

During these months, we have witnessed the responsibility and seriousness with which the EZLN has approached all of the phases of the peace process in San Andres. We are also aware of the fact that the Zapatistas have opened a new nationwide space of negotiations and political participation. Their principle "everything for everyone, nothing for us" has meant, in this case, integrating a wide spectrum of voices of civil society into the efforts to build the proposals that the Zapatistas have valiantly defended in the negotiating table. The voices of Mexico's civil society have expressed themselves, in complete freedom, in the different phases of the talks, as well as in the special events convened by the EZLN within the framework of the negotiations.

The central problems of this country are being debated in the talks of San Andres: the relations between Indian peoples and the rest of the Nation, democracy and justice. In the second round of talks devoted to the themes Democracy and Justice, the proposal which the EZLN upholds seeks to create the mechanisms required to open in Mexico the transition to democracy and enable all Mexicans to live in liberty and justice.

Since the beginning, the Federal Government sought to endanger the talks, and encourage the destruction of the peace process in general. During the first round of talks, devoted to the theme of Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Culture, it was possible to hammer out a series of accords in spite of an atmosphere hostile to the peace-seeking dialogue. However, these accords have not been implemented, and the Government has systematically opposed the integration of the Verification and Monitoring Commission, as established by the Law for Peace and Concorde. The accords of the first round are for all practical and legal purposes, words on a piece of paper.

In the second round of talks (focused on Democracy and Justice) the government's delegation carefully built a scenario which made any agreement impossible. A strategy of silence, the refusal to listen, the poverty of the government delegation's documents and the unwillingness to engage in a meaningful debate on the different proposals submitted by the EZLN made it impossible to secure a true dialogue.

As if this were not enough, the government's delegation systematically blocked the preparation of a diagnose which would help identify the deep causes of this conflict, transforming into a banning all references to the State party, corporativism, neoliberalism, impunity, sovereignty and human rights. In the end, no accords emerge from the second round of talks because the official delegation never submitted a serious proposal dealing with the Nation's real problems. In the imaginary Mexico inhabited by the members of the government's delegation, it would only be necessary to perfect the democratic and just regime which already exists in the country.

The lack of serious-mindedness on the part of the government's delegation reached a climax in its attempts to establish as the ceiling for the negotiations the limited electoral reform already approved by the Mexican Congress. Its persistent arrogance and racism are well expressed in its efforts to exclude the Indians of the EZLN from the debate on the national agenda. In its extreme version, this attitude led the government delegation to suggest that the presence of the EZLN was unnecessary given that they could discuss matters with EZLN advisors. Finally, the talks have encountered another serious obstacle in the ignorance of the government's delegation on the items in the agenda; this ignorance became manifest as the government delegation bracketed as unacceptable entire paragraphs of the Constitution which were included as part of the Zapatista's arguments.

This strategy to in fact sabotage the negotiations has been accompanied by a relentless climate of hostility and provocation. The list of "incidents" which have accompanied the different stages of this process is a long one. It includes the growing militarization of the entire country, the relentless encirclement of the Zapatista communities by the army, the deployment and multiple actions of paramilitary and armed groups, the violent actions against peasants struggling for land in Chiapas, the arrest of Fernando Yeeez, the sentence against Elorriaga and Entzin, the judgment and sentence of the alleged zapatistas in Yanga and Coatzacoalcos, the illegal detention of members of the zapatista bases in northern Chiapas and the brutal massacre of landless peasants in Nicoles Ruez are but a few examples.

Under these circumstances, we confirm that the possibility of reaching meaningful agreements is blocked by what goes on inside the official conference room, as well as by the military offensive in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico. The lack of progress affects the first round on Indian Rights and Cultures because its accords are simple pieces of paper, as well as the second round, where the dialogue has not even started. The government insists in obstructing a peaceful and ordered transition to democracy in Mexico. In view of the regime's disintegration, the government is committed, instead, to a military and authoritarian conclusion seriously endangering the liberties and rights of all Mexicans. This can only result in a tense exciting aggravation of the crisis already affecting this country.

In a national situation in which the drums of war sound an ominous foreboding, we demand that the federal Government comply with its legal obligation (as established under the Law for Peace and Concord), and that it proceed immediately to reestablish the minimum basic conditions needed to make this dialogue the instrument to build a just and honorable peace.

Today we appeal to all Mexican men and women to mobilize for the fulfillment of conditions that may enable the talks to become a fruitful process closing the authoritarian option and arresting the militarisation of politics in Mexico. We will accompany the mobilization that society and its diverse organizations decide to carry out in this nationwide struggle for the dialogues of San Andres, for democracy and justice.

Advisory Group and Invited Members of the EZLN

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