bility of liberation theology to a level never before experienced in Mexico. On January 12, 100,000 Mexico City marchers filled the Zocalo the largest demonstration held in the huge central plaza since protests following the fraudriddled 1988 election to hear human rights worker and Dominican priest Miguel Concha deliver a stinging rebuke of Salinas government policies. In his speech, Father Concha quoted the Gospel of Saint Luke and asked Mexico’s rich to return four-fold what they have stolen from the poor. Ironically, the Dominican’s appearance would not have been tolerated if Salinas had not opted for the legalization of church-state relations two years ago. “The Church of the Poor is in the ascendency in Mexico at last,” exclaims Jose Alvarez Icaza, a prominent writer on liberation theology. “Mexico will never be the same.” The conversion of Samuel Ruiz \(and the an object of public vilification to near sainthood has one rocky test ahead of it. In 1994, Bishop Ruiz must pay his fiveyear Ad Limina visit to Rome where the work of the diocese will be evaluated before a Holy Father who has been particularly harsh with those who champion the Church of the Poor. Guerrillas and the NAFTA Coverup Despite professed astonishment at the New Year’s Day Mayan Indian uprising in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, both the outgoing administration of President Carlos Salinas and the Clinton White House had access to ample intelligence indicating that the Zapatista Army of for armed conflict. Both governments apparently chose to ignore verified reports because public knowledge would have endangered passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. “It is my impression that if Congress had known about the guerrillas before November 17th, NAFTA would have been dead,” said the highest-ranking United States diplomat on the ground in Chiapas, discussing, two weeks after the New Year’s uprising, the State Department’s reluctance to make public civil and military accounts of armed confrontations and sophisticated training camps deep within the Lacandon jungle. As early as last March, when two army officers were ambushed in a village 25 kilometers from San Cristobal de las Casas, the Mexican military claimed there were armed guerrillas in Chiapas. After a May 2 firefight between what the Mexican army characterized as “40 armed men” and troops performing “social services” in Ocosingo municipality, in which two soldiers were killed and two others wounded, the military seized 13 Tzetal Indian villagers in the town of Patate Viejo and charged them with treason and armed insurrection. The subsequent discovery of a training camp, complete with mockups of military vehicles, was substantiated in a civil report prepared by Public Ministry investigators in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez and reportedly reviewed by interim governor Elmar Setzer. It was passed on to then-Interior Secretary Patrocinio Gonzalez, Setzer’s predecessor as Chiapas’ governor, but was not made public until the document was leaked by the weekly Proceso in midAugust. At that time, Gonzalez characterized the May events as “rumors” designed to derail passage of NAFTA in the U.S. Congress. Both Setzer and Gonzalez have been replaced since the January 1 uprising. A report prepared by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, a Mineapolis-based lawyers group that had observers present in Ocosingo during the early May roundup and firefight, concluded that charges of a resurgent guerrilla movement in the area were being circulated by forces opposed to the work of San Cristobal Bishop Samuel Ruiz. According to the ranking U.S. official sent to Chiapas to oversee U.S. interests in that region, the Minnesota report was one reason the State Department lent little credence to reports that guerrillas were preparing an offensive. The embassy official justified reliance on the Minnesota Advocates’ findings, explaining that State Department assets in the area are limited to a consular officer in Merida, Yucatan, several hundred miles northeast. Moreover, the May 24 assassination of Guadalajara Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas diverted press attentions from the confrontations in the Lacandon. “We read of the fighting but the Cardinal’s killing was the news. We all rushed to Guadalajara and no one checked out what was going on in Chiapas,” says one longtime U.S. correspondent here. “We just blew it. …” Nonetheless, reports of a possible resurgence of guerrilla activity were published in the United States in at least one California alternative weekly. The Anderson Valley Advertiser on October 13 ran a front page story, largely culled from Proceso articles, detailing the confrontations with the rebels in Chiapas. But the apparent cover-up of a developing guerrilla army in southern Mexico appears to be more than journalistic oversight. Prior to the hotly-contested November 17 U.S.House of Representatives’ vote on NAFTA, embassy officials frequently responded to anti-NAFTA Congressional representatives’ questions social and political problems in Mexico. “No one ever asked us about the guerrillas,” the aforementioned embassy official said last week in San Cristobal, reflecting the Clinton Administrations continuing “don’t ask, don’t tell” orientation. “Ross Perot didn’t do his homework,” added the official. “If he had, it is my impression that NAFTA would have been dead” when it came up for the November vote. The official underscored that the Clinton Administration was deeply committed to NAFTA passage, a commercial arrangement he describes as being “a good thing for both countries.” But press and human rights delegation reports were not the only sources of intelligence concerning events in the Lacandon jungle. As revealed at a January 7 press conference here in the wake of the Zapatista offensive, the Mexican military has been keeping close tabs on the guerrillas for some time. One week after the uprising began, the Secretary where and when and even at what hours the EZLN held training maneuvers. The 28-page report listed the types of weapons held by the rebels, their communication systems \(including hours of transitary structure and the social base from which they drew their recruits. Whether this, information gathered in the months preceding the uprising, was shared with U.S. military intelligence is unclear. Although the U.S. embassy in Mexico City refused to respond to a query about intelligence sharing because of security considerations, a study prepared by Dr. Sergio Aguayo, lead researcher at the prestigious Colegio de Mexico, and published last July in the national daily La Jornada, indicates that joint narcotics enforcement by Mexican and U.S. authorities has led to an integration of military intelligence assets. Even if the Mexican military did not share its information with its U.S. counterparts, the Drug Enforcement Administration has focused increasing attention on the MexicanGuatemalan border in the last year, tracking ground and air movement in the Lacandon jun THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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