"One More Step To Solve the Conflict in Chiapas"

- Open Letter To the EZLN

(from the Mexican governement)

September 7, 1999.

The Mexican Government has been continuously striving to find the political means to channel the differences between Mexicans through dialogue, reason and the law. Renewing the effort to end the conflict in Chiapas is an inescapable and pressing necessity, which the Mexican Government recognizes under the terms of the Law for Dialogue, Conciliation and a Dignified Peace in Chiapas, unanimously approved by the Congress of the Union in March of 1995, and which mandates:

1. The maintenance of peace - just, dignified and lasting - in Chiapas. 2. Addressing the causes which gave rise to the conflict. 3. Propitiating the incorporation of the EZLN in its exercising of politics through peaceful channels, and with absolute respect for their dignities and guarantees as Mexican citizens. 4. Reconciliation of the legitimate demands and interests of the different sectors of chiapaneco society. 5. Promotion of social well-being and sustainable development in the state. 6. Proposal of the structure for amnesty, to be, in turn, approved by the Congress of the Union.

In carrying out the part that corresponds to them, the Federal Government has mounted an intense social and economic program against poverty, of humanitarian aid to the displaced, and of support to the marginalized communities in the state, insisting on the renewal of dialogue with the EZLN.

President Zedillo has reiterated that "legality, never authoritarianism; tolerance, never violent confrontation; and social responsibility, never insensitivity or indifference" will be the measures used in order to continue addressing the conflicts that concern Mexicans. Today, the President of the Republic has instructed the Secretary of Government to take one more step, firmly, and in good faith, towards the solution of the conflict in Chiapas.

Accordingly, the Federal Government proposes the following:

First: The Government of the Republic has always been convinced of the necessity of carrying out the San Andres Accords, which it signed with the EZLN in February of 1996. In order to honor its commitment, it sent to the Congress of the Union a proposal for constitutional reform on indigenous rights and culture. The EZLN, for their part, expressed their approval of the COCOPA's proposal.

In order to progress towards a solution to the conflict, the Government is calling on the Senate of the Republic to determine the mechanism for which the committees can incorporate other legislation and information on indigenous rights and culture into their analysis, in the light of the San Andres Accords. These documents can be sent jointly, by the Government and the EZLN. It also calls on the legislative committees to establish the means by which they can listen to new points of view, from the EZLN and from other organizations and interested parties.

With these completely new elements, we will be able to call on the Senate of the Republic to consider writing the constitutional reforms on indigenous rights and culture during the current regular session.

Second: The EZLN is called on to assemble an agenda in order to fully carry out the other commitments agreed to at San Andres, especially those concerning the social development of the indigenous communities in the state of Chiapas.

Third: The Department of Government, in accordance with the Law, is calling on the proper bodies for the release from prison of EZLN members or sympathizers who are not involved in violent acts or rapes.

In order to complete this process, we believe it is necessary to examine, with the EZLN, the cases of those persons it recognizes as their support bases, and who have been accused of infractions of the law, in order to review the complaints against them.

Fourth: The Government will carefully review the complaints of harassment and other illicit acts noted by various human rights organizations, by the communities themselves or by the persons affected. The PGR will establish a special program in order to learn about and to review these cases, providing the witnesses with the necessary protection through the office it will establish in the state of Chiapas.

At the same time, measures will be taken in order to ensure that no groups or persons who have committed an offense will go unpunished.

Under the current conditions existing in the state of Chiapas, this action demands the maximizing of measures in order to avoid that the prosecution of the offenders serve as an excuse for new injustices or irregularities. It is appropriate to examine, jointly, the actions that should be taken by the Federal Government, the communities and the EZLN, independently of political affiliation or social sympathies.

Fifth: The Federal Government is especially interested in guaranteeing the efficacy of dialogue, and it agrees to the establishment of a new intermediation body, civil and nonpartisan, made up of Mexicans of recognized impartiality, endowed with sufficient ability to convene, to function as interlocutors and to make decisions, in order to hold constructive meetings between, and with, the parties. It also endorses the importance of the COCOPA's coadvisory work, and it has invited it to intensify the important charge conferred upon it by the Law for Dialogue. We will proceed to reconstruct the government delegation in the Commission of Monitoring and Verification, and to request the resumption of its work.

Sixth: The government representation that will be able to meet with the EZLN will have sufficient decision making capacity and will to negotiate. It will be open to creating a negotiation agenda jointly with the EZLN, that will include various measures in order to give immediate and urgent attention to the communities who have been most affected by the conflict, such as the return of the displaced to their communities of origin and a mechanism for permanent communication between the parties.

The conflict will be resolved through dialogue, reason and the law. The Government of the Republic is determined to continue along this political path, and to take one more step, with openness, seriousness, and in good faith, for the good of Mexico and of Chiapas.

Diodoro Carrasco
Altamirano Secretary of Government

Mexico, D.F. September 7, 1999

[I would like, in conclusion, to inform you that, over the course of the next few days and weeks, we will begin carrying out these actions immediately.

We will be alert to the possibility of establishing contact with the EZLN. I reiterate, in order to accomplish that, my willingness to participate in the reinitiating of dialogue at the time and place necessary - dca].

Originally published in Spanish by the Department of Government of the Republic of Mexico _________________________ Translated by irlandesa

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