ricardo dominguez on Mon, 9 Sep 2002 04:16:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Mexican Supreme Court Rejects Challenges to Indian Rights Law + Letter

"La Jornada" (9-7-002) has a much more detailed coverage of this disastrous

Mexican Supreme Court Rejects Challenges to Indian Rights Law

September 7, 2002

MEXICO CITY, Sept. 6 (AP) - In a ruling that dashes the
hopes of leftist Zapatista rebels, Mexico's Supreme Court
announced today that it was rejecting constitutional
challenges to an Indian rights law that the guerrillas said
did not meet minimum international requirements on
protecting indigenous peoples.

The 8-to-3 ruling is likely to ignite the protests of rebel
sympathizers, who had suspended dialogue and peace contacts
with the government for the last year, apparently in the
hopes that they would be in a better bargaining position if
the court threw out the law.

Enrique Avela, a spokesman for the Zapatista Front here,
called the high court's decision "a tragedy."

"Our communities are not pleased," he said.

The Law on
Indian Rights and Culture, which went into effect in August
2001, was approved by both houses of Mexico's Congress and
a majority of the 31 state legislatures.

But about 320 pro-rebel town councils and other
organizations challenged it, saying that it did not meet
minimum standards in international treaties on indigenous
rights, and that Indian groups had not been adequately
consulted on the law.

In rejecting the challenges, all the justices said the law
was both constitutional and properly approved.

"The political will to treat Indians as valuable human
beings and as a legitimate social group does not exist in
this country," said He'ctor Sa'nchez, head of Congress's
Indian Affairs Commission.

As approved, the measure left it up to state legislatures
to determine exactly how the limited Indian autonomy would
be implemented. The rebels had wanted all such decisions to
be made exclusively by townships where Indians are a



Since mid-August paramilitary attacks against Zapatista
communities have taken the lives of four Zapatista
leaders, wounded twenty supporters and displaced hundreds
from their homes. The Zapatistas have issued a call for
their international supporters to, once again, stand with
them to resist the violence and demand justice.

The following letter is addressed to the Chiapas Governor
Pablo Salazar and Mexican President Vicente Fox. It
carefully outlines some of the most alarming cases of
recent weeks and urges specific actions.

Sign-on letters are but one form of protest, but they send
an strong message to authorities that people around the
world still stand with our indigenous sisters and brothers
in Chiapas. Letters are also a great educational tool on
local level in the US.

1) Sign on your school, church, community group, or union
local. Please contact msn@mexicosolidarity.org or call
773-583-7728 to confirm and provide organizational contact
2) Sign on yourself. Please provide us with name, address,
and e-mail.
3) Format the following letter to paper and collect
signitures in your community, in your church, at the food
co-op, etc. Become an agent for change by educating people
about paramilitary violence through action to STOP it.
We'll send on all signitures to the authorities.
4) Click on
to learn more, join an emergency delegation or take other


To Governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía
To President Vicente Fox
To International Civil Society

We, the undersigned members of international civil
society, express our deep concern for the recent
resurgence in paramilitary violence in Chiapas,
particularly in the autonomous communities and
municipalities which are Zapatista support bases. We also
wish to express our outrage that the recent violence has
served as a pretext to re-militarize the autonomous zones
of the state while the perpetrators of these violent acts
live in impunity.

The following are a few cases that have been brought to
our attention:

On July 31, forty armed men affiliated with the
paramilitary group
Organization for Defense of Indigenous and Campesino
Rights (OPDIC) entered
the Culebra Ejido in the autonomous municipality of
Ricardo Flores Magon and
seriously wounded seven Zapatista supporters who were
building a school.
While the wounded were able to identify their attackers,
no official
investigation has been opened.

On August 7, Jose Lopez Santis, an autonomous authority,
was assassinated in
front of his children. The children identified the
killers, but no official
action has been taken.

On August 19, 200 people affiliated with OPDIC attacked a
checkpoint set up to intercept illegally felled trees and
stolen vehicles.
Four Zapatista supporters suffered gunshots wounds and one
was kidnapped.
No official investigation has been opened.

On August 25, Lorenzo Martinez Espinosa, a spokesman for
the Ricardo Flores
Magon autonomous community, and Jacinto Hernandez
Gutierrez, an autonomous
agrarian expert, were killed by paramilitaries.
Authorities have not
arrested anyone.

On August 26, paramilitaries from with the PRI-affiliated
?Los Aguilares?
(the Eagles) murdered Antonio Mejia, identified as a
Zapatista leader.
While his wife was able to identify the killers, none have
been arrested.

We demand:

Prosecution of paramilitary groups and members for the
above-listed attacks and murders.

Respect for autonomous municipalities, communities,
ejidos, ranches and the elected authorities that represent

Passage of an Indigenous Law that reflects the original
spirit of the San Andres Accords and respects
international norms with regard to the national treatment
of indigenous groups.

Immediate removal of Mexican army troops from autonomous
municipalities and the rest of Chiapas.

Respectfully submitted,
Mexico Solidarity Network

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