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News > Latin America

The Zapatista Army Rejects Possible Meeting With AMLO

  • Members of the EZLN in Oventik, during the tour of the Government Indigenous Council in Zapatista territory. October 17, 2017.

    Members of the EZLN in Oventik, during the tour of the Government Indigenous Council in Zapatista territory. October 17, 2017. | Photo: instagram.com/raulfernandopl

Published 17 July 2018

Priest Alejandro Solalinde suggested a meeting between the EZLN and the future government of Mexico on Tuesday.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has denied any possible encounter with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the center-left candidate elected as the future president of Mexico, as priest Alejandro Solalinde had suggested.


Zapatistas Won't Back Any Mexican Presidential Candidate

“If we're 'sectarian,' 'marginal' and 'radical;' if we're 'isolated' and 'alone;' if we´re not 'in vogue;' if we don't represent anything nor anyone; then, why don't you leave us alone and keep celebrating your 'victory'? Why don't you prepare yourselves, without lies, for the five years and ten months you will be at the federal government?” says a statement by the EZLN answering to multiple accusations from Solalinde and sectors of the left supportive of Lopez Obrador.

After AMLO's landslide victory on July 1 presidential elections, many have called the EZLN for a possible dialogue with the future government. On Monday, Solalinde said the Zapatistas had agreed to a meeting with him and that he would deliver a letter Lopez Obrador wrote for them.

But according to the EZLN itself, there's no way such thing will happen.

“The EZLN has not received anything but lies, insults, slanders and racist, sexist comments from Mr. Solalinde who -as it was said during the times of Salinas and Zedillo- thinks that we're poor, ignorant indigenous people manipulated by 'Caxlanes [white people] managing Zapatismo,' using his own words, and that prevents us from putting our heads down and bow before the one that Mr. Solalinde considers the new savior,” the EZLN said in a statement.

“I call on the ideological advisors of the Zapatista brothers and sisters to allow the encounter, dialogue and construction of the Mexico we want. We can walk together and united.”

Solalinde is close to Lopez Obrador and has called the EZLN multiple times for a dialogue. He recently turned out his offer to head the national human rights commission.

“We already have an appointment with the EZLN to hand over the letter,” said Solalinde, whose words were quickly picked up by national and international media. He was supposed to deliver the letter on Tuesday morning, but the EZLN published an open letter instead, denying any possible encounter.

“It's of public knowledge that for the last 16 years, after the indigenous counter-reform, the EZLN has not dialogued with the federal governments, either with Fox after 2001, nor with Calderon or Peña Nieto. Our willingness to dialogue has always been answered with lies, slanders and treason. If you're so kind, please give Mr. Solalinde newspaper cutouts and books detailing this, because he's doing the same thing,” they said.

The open letter is signed by the EZLN's spokesperson Subcomandante Moises, who describes himself as “100 percent Mexican, 100 percent original people of the Tzeltal language and 100 percent Zapatista,” in response to Solalinde's remarks that the indigenous army is manipulated by “mestizos.”

The Mexican priest Alejandro Solalinde is a human rights defender close to the future president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. New York, May 23, 2013. Photo | EFE

The Zapatista army has dialogued with Mexico's federal government in the past, resulting in a set of failures that have made them wary of any deal or encounter. After their uprising on January 1, 1994, the army agreed to a dialogue with Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, who later officially became president-elect, who the Zapatistas blame of betraying them.

At that time, one of Zedillo's chief negotiators was Esteban Moctezuma Barragan, regarded by the Zapatistas as the mastermind behind the assassination attempts against the leadership of the EZLN.

Now, Moctezuma Barragan has been appointed by AMLO as the education minister, and the EZLN is not willing to forgive him or give a chance to Solalinde.

“We are unaware if now Mr. Solalinde aspires to replace Mr. Moctezuma Barragan in the role he had with Zedillo,” says the statement.

Recently, Lopez Obrador's future head of indigenous affairs Adelfo Regino Montes declared the future government will promote a constitutional reform to implement and respect the long-delayed San Andres Agreements


AMLO to Implement San Andres Agreements Signed With Zapatistas

The agreements are a set of commitments and proposals reached between the federal government and the EZLN in 1996, in order to restructure the relationship between the Indigenous peoples of Mexico, society in general and the state.

The joint proposals main objective was to end the asymmetrical relationship between the government and Indigenous people, as well as ending inequality, discrimination, poverty, exploitation and political exclusion.

However, the government of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon later proposed a different reform instead, arguing the original agreements threatened the country's integrity, failing to recognize the negotiations. The EZLN rejected the new proposal and the process was halted.

In 2000 and shortly after being sworn in, Vicente Fox also proposed a new law based on the San Andres Agreements with the important exemption that it didn't recognize the right to autonomy and self-determination of Indigenous peoples, which was also rejected by the EZLN.

At the end of their statement, the EZLN pledged to keep doing what they have been doing for almost 25 years, because “freedom is not granted as charity, neither as a human or divine favor, it's conquered in struggle.”

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