Mexican Indians March Against Revised Rights Bill

OCSINGO, Mexico- More than 2,000 Indians in Mexico’s restive southern state of Chiapas marched Monday to protest a watered-down Indian rights bill passed recently by Congress.

OCSINGO, Mexico- More than 2,000 Indians in Mexico’s restive southern state of Chiapas marched Monday to protest a watered-down Indian rights bill passed recently by Congress.

The protesters marched down the same streets where the Zapatista rebels clashed with federal troops during the January 1994 revolt in the name of Indian rights.

Passage of a bill granting Mexico’s Indians broad new rights was one of the three conditions established by the Zapatistas as a condition to renewing peace talks with the government.

But the Senate made significant revisions in the bill before both houses of Congress passed it last month. The Zapatistas broke off all contacts with
the government and called on Indian groups across the country to march against the bill, which they said was gutted by the Senate changes.

"We will continue fighting for a real Indian law which takes into account our rights and the autonomy of our natural resources," said Maria Nunez, a Chol Indian woman marching Monday.

"Legislators betrayed their duty, which is to legislate as the people say and not how they (the legislators) want," she said.

The Zapatistas want regional autonomy for Indian areas on issues like native languages, as well as traditional government and law based on councils of elders or village assemblies rather than federal standards.

Congress’ version would weaken the proposed autonomy and subject laws based on Indian customs to approval by state legislatures.

Many of the protesters came from Zapatista rebel strongholds in the Lacandon and Las Canadas jungle areas.

[ see also related article:

EZLN Rejects Mexican Indigenous Reform Law ]

Author:

News Service: AP

URL: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html