Fox Moves Closer to San Andrés Accord Implementation

LA REALIDAD, Mexico – The leader of Mexico’s Zapatista rebels said
Saturday that he would come out of the southern jungle and travel
to Mexico City to restart peace talks that have been stalled since 1996.

The ski-masked Subcomandante Marcos made the statement a day after Mexico’s
new president ordered a push for peace, pulling back some troops from
Zapatista strongholds and sending a rebel-backed Indian-rights bill to
Congress.

LA REALIDAD, Mexico – The leader of Mexico’s Zapatista rebels said
Saturday that he would come out of the southern jungle and travel
to Mexico City to restart peace talks that have been stalled since 1996.

The ski-masked Subcomandante Marcos made the statement a day after Mexico’s
new president ordered a push for peace, pulling back some troops from
Zapatista strongholds and sending a rebel-backed Indian-rights bill to
Congress.

In a news conference deep in the southern Lacandon Jungle, Marcos said he
was encouraged by the actions of President Vicente Fox, whose inauguration
Friday ended a 71-year string of presidents from the same party.

Marcos said he would travel in February to the capital with his top
commanders – in what he said would be his first trip out of the jungle in 15
years – in an effort to ensure that Congress approves the Indian-rights
bill.

"We will go and we will see what happens," he said. "We are leaving to do
the work our companions are counting on us to do: to bring this war to an
end."

The Zapatistas walked out of talks with the government of outgoing President
Ernesto Zedillo four years ago when he balked at the language of the
Indian-rights bill proposed by a Congressional committee.

The bill was supposed to implement the only substantive agreement so far
between the two sides, which have maintained a wary cease-fire since January
1994.

The Zapatistas also have repeatedly demanded a pullback of the tens of
thousands of troops in the areas where the rebels are influential.

Fox, in his first action as president, sent the rejected Indian-rights bill
to Congress for approval, and ordered troops to withdraw from sensitive
spots in Chiapas and to dismantle roadblocks.

"The new dialogue begins with deeds, not words. The new dialogue speaks with
the sincerity of actions," said a communique signed by Fox’s interior
secretary, Santiago Creel, and Chiapas peace negotiator Luis H. Alvarez.

In La Realidad, Marcos said he approved of Alvarez as a negotiator. As a
federal senator in 1996, Alvarez had helped negotiate the Indian rights
bill.

Marcos also said Fox’s actions showed good will, though he complained that
the troops were being pulled back from positions – but not all the way out
of Chiapas.

Military and immigration officials have used the checkpoints to restrict support for the rebels. Foreign backers of the rebels
were sometimes deported on grounds of interfering in local politics after
being stopped at the checkpoints.

Author: Will Weissert

News Service: Associated Press

URL: http://www.nandotimes.com

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