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Full text of "Mexico : the uprising in Chiapas and democratization in Mexico : hearings before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, February 2, 1994"

OO MEXICO: THE UPRISING IN CHIAPAS AND 
^ ' DEMOCRATIZATION IN MEXICO 



Y4.F76/1:M 57/18 



tlexico: The Uprising in Chiapas and... 

HEARINGS 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON 
THE \VESTERN HEMISPHERE 

OF Till-: 

COMMITTEE (3N FOREIGN AFFAIRS 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS 

SECOND SESSION 



FEHRUARY 2. 1994 



Printed for ihe use of ihc Commiltee on Foreign Affairs 







U.S. COVKKXMKXT PUINTINC OFFICE 
81-474 CC WASHINGTON' : 1994 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-044760-7 



OO MEXICO: THE UPRISING IN CHIAPAS AND 
"^ ' DEMOCRATIZATION IN MEXICO 



Y4.F 76/1 :f1 57/18 

ilexico: The Uprising in Chiapas and... 

HEARINGS 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON 
THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE 

OF TIIK 

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATHHES 

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS 

SKCOND SESSION 



FEBRUARY 2. 1994 



Prinled for ihe use of ihe Committee on Foreign Affairs 




OCM 1934 



U.S. COVKK.V.MK.NT PUI.Vn.VG OFKICE 
81-474 CC \VASllI.\C'r().\ : 1994 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing OtTice 
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-044760-7 



COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAmS 



LEE H. HAMII. 

SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut 

TOM LANTOS, California 

ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey 

HOWARD L. HERMAN, California 

GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York 

HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida 

ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York 

ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, Amencan 

Samoa 
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota 
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York 
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, Calilbrnia 
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania 
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey 
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey 
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey 
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio 
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georfpa 
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington 
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Flonda 
ERIC FINGERHUT, Ohio 
PETER DEUTSCH, Florida 
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNX, Maryland 
DON EDWARDS, California 
FRANK McCLOSKEY, Indiana 
THOMAS C. SAWYER, Ohio 
LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois 



TON, Indiana, Chairman 

BENJAMIN A. OILMAN, New York 
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania 
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa 
TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin 
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine 
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois 
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska 
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey 
DAN BURTON, Indiana 
JAN MEYERS, Kansas 
ELTON GALLEGLY, California 
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida 
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina 
DANA ROHRABACHER, California 
DAVID A. LEVY, New York 
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois 
LINCOLN DIAZBALART, Florida 
EDWARD K ROYCE, California 



Michael H. Van Duskn, Chief of Staff 

DKliOKAll HaUGKK, ProfcHHional Staff Member 

MiLAGKOS MaJ{TINK7,, Staff Associate 



SUBCOMMnTKh: ON TIIK WkSTKUN HMMISPHKRE 



ROBERT G. TORRICEL 
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey 
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota 
CYNTHIA A. MCKINTVEY, Georgia 
PETER DEUTSCH, Florida 
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland 



1, New Jersey, Chairman 
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey 
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida 
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina 
EI/rON GALLE(]LY, California 



Ron HkNKKN, Staff Director 

DonOTirv TahT, Republican Professional Staff Member 

Alan FlEISCHMANN, Professional Staff Member 



(II) 



CONTENTS 



WITNESSES 



Page 

Hon. Joseph P. Kennedy II, a Representative in Congress from the State 

of Massachusetts 4 

Ambassador Alexander F. Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter- 
American Affairs, Department of State 11 

John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humani- 
tarian Affairs, Department of State 16 

Fernando Hernandez and Maria del Rosario Hernandez, Tzotzil Mayans from 
San Cristobal de las casas, Chiapas, Mexico through Alexander Ewen, 
interpreter, a Tarcascan Indian 35 

Juan Mendez, executive director, Human Rights Watch/Americas Watch 41 

Carlos M. Salinas, government program officer, Latin America & the Carib- 
bean, Amnesty International 44 

Chris L. Woehr, executive editor. News Network International 47 

APPENDIX 

Prepared statements: 

Hon. Robert G. Torricelli 55 

Hon. Joseph P. Kennedy II 58 

Ambassador Alexander F. Watson 61 

John Shattuck 71 

Fernando Hernandez 76 

Juan Mendez 77 

Carlos M. Salinas 90 

Chris L. Woehr '. 96 

Additional Material Submitted for the Record 

Questions submitted by Chairman ToiTicelli to the Department of State along 

with answers submitted by Assistant Secretary Alexander Watson 100 

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, "Minnesota Advocates on Human 
Rights Urges End to Human Rights Violations in Chiapas: Reports on 
Human Rights Investigation" 107 

George Vickers, Washington Office on Latin America, "The Elections in Yuca- 
tan, Mexico: Summary and Conclusions of Citizen Observers" 112 

Center for Human Rights Legal Action, "Petition Against the Government 
of Mexico and Request for Precautionary Measures and On-Site Visit by 
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights," submitted to the 
Organiation of American states, Inter-American Commission on Human 
Rights 119 

Statement submitted by Mr. Martin Edwin Anderson, former member of 

the professional staff of the U.S. senate Committee on Foreign Relations 135 

Statement by Hon. Nancy Pelosi and a letter to President Carlos Salinas 
de Gortari from Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Hon. Howard Berman, Hon. Tom Saw- 
yer, Hon. George Brown, Hon John Porter, and Hon. Sam Farr 144 

Ms. Rachel A. Joseph, interim executive director, National Congress of Amer- 
ican Indians, prepared statement 148 



(III) 



MEXICO: THE UPRISING IN CHIAPAS AND 
DEMOCRATIZATION IN MEXICO 



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1994 

House of Representatives, 
Committee on Foreign Affairs, 
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:09 p.m. in room 
2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Robert G. Torricelli 
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. 

Mr. Torricelli. The subcommittee will please come to order. 

The violence that erupted in Chiapas, Mexico on New Years Day 
has raised several pressing questions about U.S. policy and our re- 
lationship with Mexico, as well as larger issues about the treat- 
ment of indigenous peoples by the Mexican Government. Today this 
subcommittee will consider testimony from a variety of people with 
different perspectives on each of those issues. 

Events in Mexico would always be important to the U.S.. History 
and geography require that they always be central to our attention. 
The North American Free Trade Agreement has significantly al- 
tered what was always an important relationship. The United 
States, by entering into this agreement with Mexico, has encour- 
aged our people, our companies, our investors to have confidence in 
Mexico, not simply as a location for economic growth, but also of 
political stability. 

What happened in Chiapas raises questions about whether, when 
Mexico City and Washington were planning on economic union, the 
people of Mexico did not feel that they were left behind. Indeed it 
begs the question, which has not been answered for a long time in 
Mexico City and in Washington as economic reform continued in 
Mexico, when would political reform begin? 

There are those who will wonder about the rights of the United 
States to be asking questions about political reform in Mexico. In- 
deed in this time, all peoples, I trust, have come to understand that 
basic issues of human rights now transcend all national borders, 
that it is the right, indeed the responsibility of all free peoples to 
ask basic questions about the recognition of rights of others in dif- 
ferent political entities. 

But indeed, even if some resist in recognizing that right, when 
the North American Free Trade Agreement was agreed upon, clear- 
ly we entered into a different relationship. We have not simply that 
right but, more importantly, the responsibility for the interests of 
our investors and indeed of our larger national concerns to inquire 
about the political stability of our new partner. 

(1) 



If this uprising is a precursor to a long period of instability, then 
it will have an impact on the United States in economic and larger 
security terms. American businesses need to know and the U.S. 
Government must understand the nature of this uprising and what 
it holds for the future. 

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal about this rebellion in 
Chiapas that we do not know. We know that a group of approxi- 
mately 2,000 armed rebels declared war on the Government of 
Mexico itself. They claim their aim is to address human rights 
abuses, discrimination, and an appalling lack of opportunity for the 
indigenous peoples who constitute 30 percent of Mexicans's popu- 
lation. 

The initial attack, not coincidentally, occurred on the official date 
of entry of Mexico into the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
We also know that in Chiapas, these people are astonishingly poor. 
Only 67 percent of the households in Chiapas have electricity. Only 
41 percent have access to sewers and only 58 percent have access 
to running water. 

Among the states in Mexico, Chiapas is last in several categories 
of educational opportunity and achievement. Only 71 percent of 
children under the age of 14 attend school at all and only 70 per- 
cent of the people over 14 can read. We know that Chiapas has a 
dismal history of human rights abuses. In 1993 alone, there were 
at least three documented cases of arbitrary arrests and torture in 
Indian villages. 

We know the indigenous peoples in Chiapas have suffered as 
ranches in the region have expanded, often stealing the land of 
local indigenous people. These things occurred with the tacit sup- 
port of the Mexico Government and largely without the appeal of 
additional opportunity. 

The central questions we will be asking today are how bad these 
conditions in Mexico continue to be, how widespread the unrest is 
at this moment, and what the U.S. Government should be doing to 
encourage the process of reform and reconciliation. We will at the 
outset be asking these questions of two representatives of the Clin- 
ton administration, two residents of Chiapas, a panel of human 
rights investigators and Congressman Joseph Kennedy, who re- 
cently traveled to Chiapas. We will also have a particular focus on 
human rights. 

Amnesty International and America's Watch recently sent teams 
to Chiapas to investigate human rights abuses. They will both be 
with us today. They will, I trust, be reporting to us on what are 
now confirmed reports that entire villages were rounded up, many 
people beaten and many others tortured. While gross violations of 
human rights appear to have subsided, investigations continue. We 
hope to learn something about those investigations today. 

For all the things, therefore, that this hearing represents and 
that which we do Know, there is one thing that it does not rep- 
resent and one thing that we do not know. This does not represent 
an attempt by some of us who oppose the North American Free 
Trade Agreement to renew the debate about its enactment. 

The United States has entered into this agreement. We all have 
a responsibility to make it work. It is a judgment that has been 
made. The treaty, however, in its provisions provides that either 



nation can leave. While I trust that this country will remain in the 
North American Free Trade Agreement and find it in our economic 
and political interests to do so, I think the record is clear that the 
United States as a defender of human rights and a believer in plu- 
ralist government will not allow its good name or reputation to be 
used in a relationship with other governments that do not recog- 
nize some basic level of human rights and permit an evolving sys- 
tem of political pluralism, and basic democratic government. 

All of us hope and trust that that standard will not be violated 
because of our entry in the North American Free Trade Agreement. 
We all hope and trust the agreement can go forward and the de- 
bate can be closed. But indeed, as events in Chiapas have shaken 
confidence in Mexico City, they have gotten more than a little at- 
tention in Washington as well. This hearing is a beginning of that 
debate, not a debate about entry into NAFTA, but the beginning 
of a long and continuing debate, for as long as there is a North 
American Free Trade Agreement, about whether or not it is con- 
sistent with our basic values and continues to serve our national 
interest. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Torricelli appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. Smith, would you like to make an opening comment? 

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee and distin- 
guished panel members, 1 month ago, the newspaper, television 
and radio stories were aglow and filled with stories about the vio- 
lence in southern Mexico, in Chiapas. 

As we watched, it became evident that the events would demand 
a response by the Mexican Government. Sadly, the military re- 
sponse chosen by the Mexican authorities was harsh, deadly, over- 
whelming and inappropriate. The violent reaction by the thousands 
of troops left an unknown death toll. Whether the violence was per- 
petrated by the guerrillas or the army, the reported torture and 
executions must be vigorously investigated. 

The stain of bloodshed will not fade easily, but represents the 
grim consequence of neglect by authorities in recent decades. The 
State of Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico and tens of 
thousands have been denied the constitutional and legal rights 
they deserve. 

Mr. Chairman, while in no way condoning the violence that has 
been used by the guerrillas, there are legitimate grievances under- 
lying the uprising. Several years ago, it was first bought to my at- 
tention that human rights abuses and discrimination due to reli- 
gious beliefs had led to the expulsion of thousands of families. 

I met with Jorge Carpizo, then head of the National Commission 
for Human Rights, and brought to his attention my deep concerns 
about these expulsions and a plea for justice and fairness. 

In response to additional information that we provided to the 
commission and to the President last September, we received an in- 
teresting response from the commission dated December 14, 1993. 
The commission acknowledges that "during the investigation [of 
the complaints about violation of human rights, particularly of reli- 
gious freedom], we discovered our limited competence . . . There 
exists a conviction to maintain an open and participative discussion 



through which we can find pertinent solutions for the problem." ' 
Talk and dialog, but very little action. 

Unfortunately, violence had to serve, it seems, as the catalyst for 
the highest levels of the Mexico Government to commit publicly to i 
true reform in Chiapas. 

I have read with interest the variety of political appointments 
made to help mediate the issues which came to light by the ' 
Chiapas uprising. I hope and pray that such political changes re- 
flect a new-found political will to implement the promises that have 
been made. Many grievances can be accommodated through the en- 
forcement of the law as it is currently written. 

Opening the political space in these critical months prior to the 
August election would indicate the government's resolve to reform. 
Finally, I agree, Mr. Chairman, with the statement made recently 
by the Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation, Manuel 
Camacho. He said, "We either settle the problem in Chiapas cor- 
rectly, promptly, seriously, and honestly, or a conflict bringing only 
destruction, greater poverty, and isolation will take root. There are 
no middle-of-the-road points here." 

This hearing will let us gain insights into the problem, Mr. I 
Chairman. I thank you for calling the hearing to decide what our 
course ought to be, to try to lay out the facts as they exist, and 
then move on from there. 

Thank you. I look forward to our distinguished witnesses. 

Mr. ToRRiCELLi. Mr. Menendez, do you have an opening com- , 
ment? 

Mr. Menendez. No, thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Kennedy, welcome. Thank you for being 
with us today. The subcommittee would like to receive your testi- 
mony about your visit to Chiapas, your thoughts and impressions. 

STATEMENT OF HON. JOSEPH P. KENNEDY H, A REPRESENTA- 
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS 

Mr. Kennedy. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank 
other members of the subcommittee for the opportunity to come i 
and testify before you on a very, very important issue to the people 
of Mexico and for all those who are concerned about human rights 
and the democratic process. ' 

I particularly want to say what a delight it is to be here with I 
Secretary Watson and my good friend, John Shattuck, who has j 
done yeoman's work in the promotion of human rights throughout 
the world. I also want to thank Juan Mendez and others who have 
been involved in this process, and I want to thank the members of 
the subcommittee for their willingness to listen to my thoughts 
after returning from Chiapas just about 10 days ago. 

I had an opportunity while visiting Mexico on a mission to in- ; 
volve many of the high tech companies from our country in the en- i 
vironmental cleanup that Mexico has committed itselr to, and to 
meet with President Salinas as well as the Foreign Minister 
Manuel Tello to discuss with them the events that had taken place 
and obviously had gripped the entii'e nation of Mexico as a result 
of the unrest in Chiapas. 

I was struck, Mr. Chairman — I might ask that my entire state- 
ment be put into the record. 



Mr. TORRICELLI. Without objection. 

Mr. Kennedy. I will just talk to you about what some of my ob- 
servations were. First and foremost, in the meetings I had with 
both President Salinas and the Foreign Minister, I was struck by 
the fact that this was one of the first instances that I had ever seen 
a head of State as well as the Foreign Minister of a nation not go 
into a period of denial about the kind of circumstances that led to 
the unrest in Chiapas. There was no attempt by President Salinas 
or the Foreign Minister to in any way sweep the importance of the 
issues under the rug. 

There was a great deal of questioning as to what brought on the 
sort of catalytic event that must have taken place to bring on the 
unrest. There was a recognition that this was a very, very poor 
part of Mexico, that there were many people, particularly the indig- 
enous people of the area, who had been denied many of the basic 
human rights over a period of many, many years going back to 
even hundreds of years. This was an area that the President indi- 
cated he had personally ordered about $50 million, I believe was 
the figure he used, in additional aid to be pumped into Chiapas, 
but had indicated as well that there were very serious problems in 
making sure that that aid got out to the poorest people, that in fact 
much of the aid that had been pumped into that region had per- 
haps been utilized by those that had been functionaries, maybe, of 
the party or perhaps of the government, but not the poorest people 
in the region that desperately needed the help. 

I was encouraged by both the President and the Foreign Minister 
as well as Jorge Madrazo, who is the head of the National Human 
Rights Commission, to go ahead and make the visit, unrestricted, 
to meet with whomever I chose and to try and get a sense of what 
brought these events to take place. 

I had an opportunity to visit a very small village in the middle 
of the state of Chiapas, a village called Altamirano, where there 
was a great deal of military activity and Zapatista activity that had 
taken place in the conflict. In that hospital, nuns had taken care 
of both government troops as well as Zapatistas. 

By the time I got there, the wounded troops had been removed, 
but there was a great deal of military activity in the town. What 
was more striking than any other event was visiting with two 
young Indian girls, perhaps 18 or 20 years of age, that were being 
fed intravenously. 

I asked the nun who was taking care of them what the problem 
was. She indicated that they were extremely malnourished. It gives 
you a sense of the kinds of poverty that exists in that State, that 
a part of Mexico that is extremely beautiful, has a wonderful agri- 
cultural base, that throughout the entire many, many hours of 
driving through the region saw literally thousands upon thousands 
of farms that anybody in such a rich agricultural region could be 
suffering from malnutrition was completely counterintuitive to the 
kinds of conditions that we saw. 

I met later in the day at a refugee camp with a gentleman per- 
haps 40 or 45 years of age and his two sons. He had been beaten 
very severely by government troops in an area that the U.S. Gov- 
ernment Embassy officials had told me there had been no fighting. 



The fact is that this fellow had lost his home, had lost his store, 
had lost his life savings, was beaten severely, held in prison for 4 
days, and felt that his only crime was that he was a participant 
in a group that was organized by the Catholic Church that some- 
one had designated in some way of being subversive. 

I must say, he had been interviewed extensively by the many 
human rights nongovernmental organization within the Chiapas 
State a week or so after the events took place, many of which were 
in fact doing a tremendous amount of work and trying to find the 
particular cases of human rights abuses, that there was some sus- 
picion might have been covered up. 

A word about the Human Rights Commission itself: I was critical 
of the Human Rights Commission that is charged with the issue 
of looking into any human rights abuses. The Human Rights Com- 
mission is paid for with government funds. It has restrictions in 
terms of its ability to prosecute members of the armed forces. 

It can only look at cases that are brought to it. If it hears about 
a case, it cannot go out and find out about a new case that they 
might have heard about, only complaints where someone actually 
comes forward. So the whole question of intimidation and the like 
is certainly one that needs to be looked at. 

What I will say is that this is a very, very rich part of the Mexi- 
can country. It is an area very wealthy in natural resources. I am 
told that it is a land that is thought to be rich in oil and other min- 
erals and yet the lack of economic development that is taking place 
in that part of the country is truly astounding. 

The sense that we have — and I will finish right up, Mr. Chair- 
man — the sense that we have or that I gained after visiting the re- 
gion is that there really is a second-class citizenship for the indige- 
nous people. 

To tell you the truth, Mr. Chairman, it reminded me much of 
what takes place with our Indians in American. Anyone who takes 
the time to visit at Indian resei-vation and see the squalor and pov- 
erty and lack of attention our own Indians get here can identify 
very readily with the kinds of circumstances that the people of the 
Chiapas state are suffering from. 

Again, I don't feel in any way this is a circumstance that can be 
equated with China or South Africa of a couple of years ago and 
other circumstances where there are gross human rights abuses 
that are sanctioned by the government. I think that this is a gov- 
ernment that has made a very strong commitment to try to under- 
stand what went wrong, to try to deal with the underlying prob- 
lems that pertain to human rights abuses, inadequacy of the judi- 
cial system, and most fundamental is the fact that the democratic 
process simply is not working. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Kennedy appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you very much for your statement. More 
than that, thank you for taking the initiative to go to Chiapas and 
get there so quickly. That is not only a service to the institution, 
but in fact the country. 

At this point, you are the only eyes and ears that shared this ex- 
perience, and for that, we are very grateful. 

Mr. Kennedy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 



Mr. TORRICELLI. The abuse of an individual through torture or 
false imprisonment and the denial of the opportunity of self-govern- 
ance may be human rights abuses of a different magnitude, but 
they are both human rights abuses. 

You spoke to the former in your own belief that I share, that 
President Salinas would not sanction or be a part of the abuse of 
an individual, but indeed the reality is that there has been precious 
little progress in providing pluralist democracy to many people in 
Mexico and most especially to the poor and the indigenous peoples. 

The relationship between Members of this Congress and the Sali- 
nas government for the last 4 years have been almost a continuing 
lecture on our perceived inability to have genuine economic 
progress without some similar at least minimalist political progress 
at the same time. The Mexican Government has clearly resisted 
that notion. 

Did you, from your conversations, get any impression that the 
sacrifice of this fighting and loss of these lives has at least made 
an impression upon the government in Mexico City that the time 
has come to make some concurrent political reforms? 

Mr. Kennedy. I think there is no question in my mind, Mr. 
Chairman, that this is a very different set of circumstances. This 
is a very different Mexico. I have visited Mexico many, many times 
over the course of the last 20 to 25 years. I have seen small revolu- 
tions take place in Mexico 20 or 25 years ago that had in no way 
the same resonance that the Chiapas uprising struck across that 
nation. I think that there was, as a result of the NAFTA debate, 
a general sense that Mexico had come of age economically. 

The reason why this situation has so shaken that nation is be- 
cause there is a recognition that the one-party system has fallen 
short of the notion that every vote counts and that every individual 
makes a difference. So I have a sense that this is a moment of real 
challenge for the Mexican Government as to whether or not the 
kind of reform, particularly for the indigenous people not just in 
Chiapas but throughout the country, are going to be able to come 
forward. 

I do think that we should make clear, Mr. Chairman, that while 
legitimate in terms of our interest in a neighboring country that is 
populated by tens of millions of people that have many relatives 
here in the United States, that has tremendous cultural ties to this 
country, is obviously a legitimate^question. 

I do think that we ought to make certain that we do not cross 
the line into trying to equate the Mexican Government with some 
kind of sort of falsified notion of a benevolent dictatorship. I do not 
believe that that is the current situation in Mexico. I think that 
this is a democracy that is in the process of developing, that this 
is a flash point in that development and it is a challenge point in 
that development, and it needs to be aired out publicly, most im- 
portantly, by the Mexican people. 

If the Mexican people choose to take this as a challenge to reform 
the system and allow a true plurality and true democratic reforms, 
I think it will have been a very important reform development in 
the history of Mexico. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Menendez. 

Mr. Menendez. I have no questions. Thank you. 



8 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you for appearing. How widespread 
would you say the support or lack of support for this movement has 
been throughout the rest of Mexico, other people you spoke with or 
whom you met? 

Mr. Kennedy. If you talk with some of the intellectual leaders 
of Mexico, Carlos Fuentes, for example, the fact that there is a res- 
onance of this issue throughout the nation — to the exact support of 
the Zapatista movement, I think there was some question as to ex- 
actly what the Zapatistas were trying to accomplish other than a 
general state of improvement in the judicial system and an im- 
provement in the economic system as it particularly relates to the 
indigenous people. 

I think the reason, as I mentioned, that it has had such a tre- 
mendous impact on the country is that it has become a symbol for 
the lack of a sense that Mexico has of its own self in terms of the 
international community's view of Mexican democracy. That is 
where I think the real challenge comes into effect. 

I have not taken any polls, so I cannot tell you what the poll 
numbers show, but I think that this is very, very critical and it is 
the only issue that people in Mexico seem to be talking about. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Also, there are some who state that some in- 
dividuals have used the indigenous people for their own political 
gain, that the people who have furthered this revolt are not really 
the leaders of the indigenous people but actually disenfranchised 
folks from the PRI party or from other political parties, and they 
have used a community to further their own political agenda. 

How widespread is that believed and do you place any credibility 
in it? 

Mr. Kennedy. You know, I asked Carlos Fuentes about that. He 
said, listen, in your own revolution in the United States, do you 
really think that George Washington wrote all his own speeches? 
Do you really think that perhaps in any of the particular revolu- 
tions in any particular fight like this, that there really is just one 
person of the indigenous people who is in direct control of all the 
events. 

The fact is, the reason why it is so important is because it has 
brought so many people together. That is where I think those that 
choose to suggest that this is — I mean, we heard everything from 
this being financially supported by drug lords- to those that said 
that it could be people from Guatemala, it could be people from 
Cuba. We heard every different excuse possible. 

Nobody in the government was buying that. People were wonder- 
ing who in fact might have triggered the revolution, but nobody 
was trying to suggest that anything other than the real economic 
situation and lack of judicial integrity of the system was ultimately 
responsible. So I think those were considered to be excuses that 
tend to get away from the central point. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. As you know, the State Department just very 
recently released their report on the human rights violations of 
many countries, and certainly Mexico's historical human rights 
abuses have gotten a lot of attention, especially as a result of this 
revolt. 



Until your discussions with Mexico's leaders, how seriously do we 
take these reports? We will be hearing later from the American 
Watch and other human rights groups. How seriously do you per- 
ceive the government is going to try to reform the system? 

Mr. Kennedy. That is an excellent question. I think that the 
Mexican Government is extremely concerned about their inter- 
national reputation. There is a country that is looking to attract a 
great deal of investments and economic development in the next 
few years. I think that they want very seriously to avoid those kind 
of charges. 

I am concerned, again, that we are viewed — and I know that 
Chairman Torricelli would never condone a hearing nor would any 
other members of the subcommittee, condone an effort to simply try 
to use this as an attempt to give Mexico a black eye. 

I can imagine that if in fact another country were looking at the 
riots in Los Angeles, were looking at some police brutality cases 
that have taken place around our country, would look at the Rod- 
ney King episode and the like and try and suggest that our system 
perhaps is not all that it is made out to be as well. 

I don't try to equate the two, but I do pose it as an issue that 
we should all be concerned about, that none of us are in a position 
where we are so above these kind of difficulties that we can be very 
quick to cast a stone. That is not to suggest that there are not 
problems in Mexico. There are problems in Mexico. 

What I am trying to suggest is that I do think that the govern- 
ment has submitted itself to a program of trying to get at those 
causes. I think it is entirely appropriate for this subcommittee and 
for others to make certain that those kind of programs stay on 
track. 

Mr. Torricelli. Mr. Oberstar. 

Mr. Oberstar. I want to thank our colleague for his testimony 
today. Joe, you made a very compelling, very clearly thought- 
through statement and personal assessment of the situation in 
Chiapas. Your sensitivity to the human dimension and the human 
impact of the current state of affairs against the long history of 
Mexico from its revolution, I think, is a great testimonial to your 
personal commitment and your long-term association with this 
issue in Mexico and in this region. 

Mr. Kennedy. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar. 

Mr. Oberstar. It reminds me that the uprising, the underlying 
factors that drove the Zapatista movement, reminds me very much 
of what characterizes Central America through El Salvador, Nica- 
ragua, Guatemala, over the past 20 years of demands for lands re- 
form, economic justice, relief of human and social misery. 

What is different in your analysis from that of other delegations, 
including one that I participated in in El Salvador? Is your appeal 
for caution in taking action against Mexico? You say, as a friend 
and neighbor, we have an obligation to offer constructive criticism 
and to support efforts in different ways, whether it be wise for us 
to encourage Mexico to move along the path to meaningful reform, 
meaning new social and economic justice for the people of that re- 
gion. 

Mr. Kennedy. I think, Mr. Oberstar, that you are really getting 
at the heart of it here and that is: What is the appropriate role of 



10 

the United States? My sense is that the United States plays a very, 
very important role in the overall economic and social development 
of Mexico. 

Mr. Torricelli has alluded to the fact that in many countries, that 
hope for democracy there has been, and I think this is true in Mex- 
ico as well, has been a siphoning off of resources to a very few indi- 
viduals at the top. There is obviously a very well-developed upper 
middle-class in Mexico. 

As to how well a real middle class has developed, I think is 
something that needs to be openly debated. I think the United 
States, as a friend of Mexico, has a right to participate in that de- 
bate as Mexicans have a right to participate in debates of America. 
We share not only a long border, but we also share a great many 
people. I think there is a whole range of issues that pertain to de- 
velopment in California and Texas and other States along that bor- 
der that have a direct impact and give legitimacy to our concerns 
that perhaps no other nation has. 

Specifically, I think that there are going to be a number of re- 
forms that are going to need to take place in terms of the overall 
economic development of the Chiapas state. I think there has to be 
an oversight over the human rights abuses that have taken place. 

I think you are going to be hearing from many of the NGO's that 
are doing their work. The people involved in those organizations 
really are doing the Lord's work down there. It is fantastic. You 
have to just thank these people for the conditions they live in and 
the circumstances they work in. They are going to make some rec- 
ommendations. I have tried to make some with regard to how the 
Human Rights Commission is formed. 

Others will make recommendations that we cannot, obviously, 
impose on the Mexicans, but I think it is legitimate for us to dis- 
cuss the terms and conditions under which elections are being held. 
If there is a sense that the election process needs some reforms, 
then I think it is legitimate for the international press, for Mexican 
writers to write in our press for us to have a sense of what the 
flash points are for that debate. I think that we can be involved 
in those discussions. 

The Mexicans are very resistant to having international observ- 
ers at their elections but perhaps there can be some halfway point 
of having nongovernmental officials looking after the election proc- 
ess. I think these are the kinds of things that need to take place. 

In addition, I suggest we get some U.S. companies to go down 
there and look at the development of not only environmental re- 
sources, but look at the development of the Chiapas state if there 
is oil and gold and other resources that can be developed. There is 
a tremendous amount of hydropower. They export 90 percent of the 
power that goes to the rest of Mexico and they cannot even get 15 
or 20 percent of their state electrified. 

There are some issues like that that I just think if we in fact had 
had more open discussions about what is going on, I think that the 
Mexicans themselves would probably do everything in their power 
to take care of the problems. 

Mr. Oberstar. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's eloquence has 
used up my time. 

Mr. Kennedy. I am sorry. 



11 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Joe, thank you again. First, let me assure you 
that it has never been our intention to in any way damage the good 
name and the reputation of Mexico. Several of us here understand 
what it is like to be criticized unfairly from abroad. We live in New 
Jersey. We are fully sensitive to that, but simply as one with a 
common future to assure that our interest and their's is secure. 

Finally, it occurred to me in listening to you that 30 years ago, 
a great U.S. Senator in visiting Latin America observed that those 
who make progress impossible make revolution inevitable. That 
was not intended as a threat in 1965 but simply as a fair and hon- 
est observation to friends. . 

In our own way, just as Bernard Shaw and then Senator Ken- 
nedy said those words 30 years ago, in our own way we do so again 
today as friends in a fair observation. 

Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Chairman, I very much understand the moti- 
vations that you have in conducting this hearing. I think that you 
have done tremendous work in your career in the Congress in try- 
ing to make certain that not only does the world enjoy some kind 
of economic development, but that the world is held responsible for 
social development as well. 

WTienever you do that, you are going to be criticized. I know that. 
I guess what I was trying to do is to suggest that this subcommit- 
tee be sophisticated enough under your leadership to recognize the 
difference between the situations that have taken place, that this 
subcommittee has done tremendous work under your guidance in 
delving into issues pertaining to places like El Salvador, Nica- 
ragua, and other countries that have extremely significant human 
rights abuse problems and a tremendous amount of lack of democ- 
racy versus Mexico, which I just don't think is in the same cir- 
cumstances. 

That certainly does not mean that we all don't have a respon- 
sibility to look into these issues and to try to be a helpful and con- 
structive force. That had always been a part of your career. That 
is a part of what this subcommittee is all about. It is certainly 
within that spirit that I asked to come and testimony. I appreciate 
the opportunity to do it. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you. 

Mr. ToRRlCELLi. At this point, the subcommittee will hear from 
Ambassador Alexander Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for 
Inter-American Affairs, Department of State; the Honorable John 
Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Hu- 
manitarian Affairs, Department of State. Please come forward. 

Your testimony will be entered into the record, without objection 
at this point, in its entirety. We invite you, Mr. Watson, to present 
a summary of your testimony. 

STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR ALEXANDER F. WATSON, AS- 
SISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTER-AMERICAN AF- 
FAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

Mr. Watson. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I really ap- 
preciate this opportunity to appear before you again today to dis- 
cuss the implications of the recent events in Chiapas for United 
States-Mexican relations. 



12 

I would like to begin my testimony by underscoring the fact that, 
never before, has the United States enjoyed better relations with 
Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement symbolizes the 
coming of age of an often complicated and strained partnership. 
The end of the cold war, dramatic transformations in Mexican eco- 
nomic policy, significant liberalization of the Mexican political sys- 
tem, and our own growing awareness of the importance of Mexico 
and Latin America to U.S. National interests have combined to 
bring us together on fundamental issues. 

I would like to highlight, Mr. Chairman, that improved relations 
with Mexico parallel a fundamental change in our overall relations 
with Latin America. Latin America is the only region in the devel- 
oping world where all the countries, save Cuba, are being governed 
by popularly elected leaders. 

After a difficult decade of economic reversals, the region has im- 
plemented far-reaching political and economic reforms that have 
contributed to an economic upturn that has attracted investors 
worldwide. Mexico has led the way on many of these initiatives and 
we are confident that the implementation of NAFTA will open up 
further opportunities for investment, while adding to our capacity 
to export to its growing domestic market. 

At the same time, the uprising in Chiapas illustrates the serious 
challenges Mexico and other countries in the region face in ad- 
dressing the still unresolved issues of poverty and lack of oppor- 
tunity for important sectors of society. 

The legitimate grievances of the people of southern Mexico were 
neither caused by NAFTA, nor should NAFTA be in any way com- 
promised by these developments. Indeed, the events in Chiapas 
demonstrated more clearly than ever the need for NAFTA. With 
NAFTA, Mexico will continue on the path of free-market reform, 
providing the private sector with strong incentives to energize the 
country's economy and attract foreign investment. With NAFTA, 
Mexico will be drawn more into the Western community of nations, 
one in which free-market reforms are closely linked with the politi- 
cal legitimacy that stems from open, free and democratic politics. 

Let me return to the Chiapas uprising. On the first of January, 
a group of armed insurgents of the self-proclaimed Zapatista army 
of National Liberation, or EZLN by its Spanish acronym, launched 
attacks on four municipalities in the southern Mexican state of 
Chiapas. Government offices were seized, records and property de- 
stroyed, prisons stormed and prisoners released. 

First reports out of Mexico suggested that, while many of the 
fighters were drawn from local Indian groups, the leadership may 
have come from Mexico City or from outside Mexico, particularly 
the guerrilla groups in neighboring Guatemala. It appears, how- 
ever, that there were no organic ties with any foreign group or 
movement. The Mexican Government, which has been a prime 
facilitator of the peace process in Guatemala, concluded that there 
were no links between the EZLN and the Guatemalan URNG. 

The Mexican Government's initial hesitation to counterattack the 
rebel offensive was followed by a firm response to the uprising. By 
January 5, the Mexican army had reestablished control of the mu- 
nicipalities attacked on New Year's Day. Some human rights 



13 

abuses may have occurred in connection with the retaking of these 
municipahties. 

The insurgents took several hostages, including a former gov- 
ernor of Chiapas, and retreated to remote hamlets and rural areas. 
Security forces pursued them with helicopter gun ships and other 
aircraft, strafing and firing rockets at suspected rebel positions. It 
was during this period of stepped-up military action that other 
human rights abuses are reported to have occurred. 

Our Embassy moved quickly in response to the events in 
Chiapas. Embassy personnel arrived in San Cristobal and the state 
capital Tuxtla Gutierrez on January 2, the day after the beginning 
of the uprising, to provide assistance to the U.S. citizens in the 
area and assess the unfolding developments. 

Our Embassy in Mexico City had conveyed to the highest levels 
of the Mexican Government our concern for the security situation 
in the region, and in particular for the potential for human rights 
abuses, prior to the initial press reports of possible human rights 
violations. During the course of many contacts, we noted the impor- 
tance of attempting to establish a peaceful dialogue with the rebels. 

The Mexican Government has subsequently assured us that it 
will investigate fully all charges of human rights abuses, prosecute 
those suspected of committing abuses, and punish those found 
guilty. 

On January 6, President Salinas gave instructions to the govern- 
ment's authorities operating in Chiapas "to respect the human 
rights of the civilian population and guarantee the work of the 
mass media." 

On January 10, he called for a peaceful solution to the crisis in 
Chiapas and on January 12 ordered an immediate and unilateral 
cease-fire by security forces. He further promised to grant amnesty 
to rebels who put down their arms. His call for dramatic changes 
was reinforced by changes in the composition on his cabinet. He 
named then Attorney General Carpizo, former head of Mexico's 
Human Rights Commission and a man widely known for his com- 
mitment to human rights and democratic reforms, to be Minister 
of Interior. 

Foreign Minister Manuel Camacho Solis, a man who had won 
widespread praise for his adept stewardship of the mayoralty of 
Mexico city and his skills as a negotiator, was named to serve as 
Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation. 

At the same time, the head of the autonomous and highly credi- 
ble National Commission for Human Rights, known as the CNDH 
by its Spanish acronym, Jorge Madrazo, was sent to investigate 
possible human rights abuses. Under the terms of the cease-fire, 
Mexican security forces were ordered not to seek out and engage 
EZLN insurgents, but to employ force only if attacked or if civilians 
were threatened. 

President Salinas conceded that the Federal Government had 
failed to address many of the social grievances of the inhabitants 
of southern Mexico, despite increased expenditures on social wel- 
fare. He ordered the Secretary for Social Development to travel to 
Chiapas and begin consultation with local leaders on Federal sup- 
port for regional needs. 



14 

A resolution of the broader problems in Chiapas will not be 
achieved overnight. Chiapas is a region of Mexico in which the re- 
forms of the Mexican revolution were never fully implemented. It 
is an area of deep inequalities, where powerful landlords and local 
bosses thwart the aspirations for justice and better standards of 
living for the rural populations. 

It suffers from tensions between the indigenous and 
nonindigenous populations, between different Indian communities 
and between adherents to diverse religious beliefs. The human 
rights abuses in Chiapas, as Congressman Smith pointed out, re- 
ported in our annual human rights reports, are symptomatic of nu- 
merous conflicts and unfulfilled expectations. 

Prior to the peace initiative, human rights abuses may have been 
committed on both sides, particularly by the security forces. The 
prompt involvement of Mr. Camacho, the Mexican Human Rights 
Commission and Catholic Church authorities in the region may 
have helped limit the problem. Some 140 nongovernmental human 
rights organizations — Mexican and non-Mexican — have sent per- 
sonnel to Chiapas to assess the situation. 

As of today, fighting in the area has stopped. The government's 
actions contributed to shifting the conflict to the negotiating stage. 
Prospects for direct talks and talks mediated through the good of- 
fices of Bishop Samuel Ruiz appear very encouraging. As a further 
step to reduce tensions, Mr. Camacho announced on February 1 the 
withdrawal of army troops from occupied towns and the designa- 
tion of two villages as "neutral zones," off limits to EZLN rebels 
and army troops. We have news reports today, Mr. Chairman, that 
the EZLN reportedly has announced that talks with Mr. Camacho 
are imminent. 

While the problems of Chiapas date back centuries, recent 
changes in the economy of Mexico and the global economy have cer- 
tainly contributed to social upheaval in southern Mexico. As the 
Mexican Government has instituted financial, economic, and trade 
reforms — steps which we see as crucial to long-term growth and 
stability — there have been shocks to its economy, particularly to 
those sectors which were inefficient or protected from competition. 

Chiapas is one of the states which has received the greatest 
share of funds from government programs to provide for a social 
safety net during the period of economic reform, most notably the 
Solidarity program. 

One of the most significant aspects of the economic reforms of 
the Salinas administration has been the successful conclusion of 
the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

The inaugural meeting of the NAFTA Commission was held in 
Mexico City on January 14 and addressed a number of crucial im- 
plementation issues. We are continuing to work with Mexico and 
Canada in setting up the commissions required by the labor and 
environmental supplemental agreements and the Border Environ- 
mental Cooperation Agreement. 

The EZLN's initial "declaration of war" on the Mexican Govern- 
ment, NAFTA was deemed the death knell for the Indians of 
Chiapas. I do not accept that judgment. Such a statement is little 
more than EZLN rhetoric that makes for catchy headlines. The 



15 

EZLN itself claims to have been preparing for its "war" for some 
ten years — obviously long before NAFTA was on the table. 

NAFTA is not the cause of the social and economic inequalities 
in Chiapas which spawned the uprising any more than NAFTA can 
be blamed for poverty or social tensions elsewhere in Mexico or the 
rest of North America. 

Chiapas and the uprising there do not make Mexico an unreli- 
able trading partner. Make no mistake, however, NAFTA alone is 
not viewed as a panacea to those problems. Poverty in Chiapas pre- 
dates NAFTA. But increased trade, which NAFTA fosters, will 
bring rising prosperity in Mexico, and ultimately in Chiapas. Ex- 
panded resources and expanded incomes will make for a better fu- 
ture for the people of Chiapas. 

Furthermore, the NAFTA process is more than a closer linking 
of our trading patterns. This process accelerates a comprehensive 
integration of our two countries in many areas. It helps energize 
local nongovernmental organizations and forges links between 
them and like-minded NGO's in the international community. The 
process increases Mexican sensitivities toward democratic values 
and human rights. Under NAFTA, Mexico is now more than ever 
part of the "global village." 

Mr. Chairman, I would now like to turn to the other topic of to- 
day's hearing: Democratization in Mexico. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Ambassador, could you then, Mr. Watson, 
please conclude on this so we can move forward. We are substan- 
tially beyond the 5 minutes. 

Mr. Watson. Yes, sir. As you know, Mexico has long been domi- 
nated by the PRI — Institutional Revolutionary Party — the political 
organization which emerged after the Mexican revolution. Over the 
years, the PRI has provided Mexico with considerable stability and 
presided over a remarkable transformation of the country. It is also 
acknowledged by most observers that the prominence of the PRI 
has historically discouraged the development of an open and com- 
petitive democratic process. 

Just as we are witnessing a remarkable transformation in Mex- 
ico, we are also witnessing dramatic transformations in the Mexi- 
can political system. Under the leadership of President Salinas, 
Mexico has taken bold steps toward guaranteeing the protection of 
fundamental human rights and permitting an open and fair demo- 
cratic process. 

For the first time in history, opposition parties have gained gov- 
ernorships in several states and significantly improved their rep- 
resentation in the legislature. Electoral reforms in 1990 and 1993, 
including the Federal Electoral Processes and Institutions Code, in- 
troduced reforms in voter registration, placed limits on campaign 
spending and created an electoral court to adjudicate electoral dis- 
putes. 

These reforms, however, failed to fully satisfy opposition parties 
concerned about the impartiality of the electoral authorities. Dur- 
ing the recent elections in the state of Yucatan, opposition parities 
complained of extensive fraud. 

Mr. Chairman, we welcome the announcement on January 27 
that all of the candidates for the presidency in Mexico had reached 
an agreement entitled "Peace, Democracy and Justice." I cannot 



16 

sufficiently underscore the historic dimensions of this agreement to 
which the leading opposition parties, the PRD and the PAN, as 
well as the PRI, are all signatories. It recognized that a necessary 
and unavoidable condition to a just and lasting peace is the ad- 
vancement of democracy through free elections. 

In the agreement the parties pledged a series of concrete steps 
that should make fair, impartial elections a reality. As a tribute to 
the strength of the Mexican political process that these watershed 
agreements have emerged in the wake of the incidents in Chiapas. 

Chiapas, rather than representing a reversal in the process of 
economic and political transformation in Mexico, has proven to be 
a further energizing factor contributing to a deepening of the re- 
form process. We hope and expect that this process will continue. 

The United States has been supportive of democratic opening in 
Mexico. We have discussed frequently with Mexican officials our 
willingness to cooperate in ways which are in full conformity with 
Mexican law. The State Department has also met with nongovern- 
mental organizations to discuss how they might be able to assist 
Mexican NGO's in ensuring the full implementation to electoral 
laws. 

In closing, I would like to reiterate that we view with great opti- 
mism the development of closer ties with Mexico and applaud the 
process of economic reform and political opening that is taking 
place in that country. The United States looks forward to deepen- 
ing ties with Mexico and working fully with whomever the Mexican 
people elect as their leaders in the upcoming Presidential race. We 
are confident that the implementation of NAFTA will continue to 
improve relations between our countries in the years ahead. 

Just as President Clinton has emphasized the need to address 
many of the basic and fundamental social problems that we con- 
tinue to face in the United States, we welcome the renewed com- 
mitment of Mexico toward addressing the problems of poverty and 
inequality. A policy of peace, reconciliation and democratic reform, 
with respect for human rights, will help strengthen the ties of our 
people on both sides of the border. 

I will be pleased to answer any questions members of the sub- 
committee may have. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you, Mr. Watson. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Watson appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Shattuck, we invite your testimony remind- 
ing you that members of the subcommittee can read your testimony 
silently faster than you can read it aloud, so it is not necessary to 
read it all. You may summarize at this point. 

STATEMENT OF JOHN SHATTUCK, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF 
STATE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS, 
DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

Mr. Shattuck. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to join 
my colleague, Assistant Secretary Watson, on this very important 
subject of the situation in Chiapas in Mexico and the human rights 
situation which is the topic of my testimony. 

I want to take note of the outstanding testimony of my good 
friend. Congressman Joe Kennedy, and associate myself with many 



17 

of his important observations. I will let you absorb some of my tes- 
timony by reading, but there are some portions of it that I would 
like to highlight. Particularly, I would like to state in terms of the 
human rights issues and violations that have arisen in the context 
of Chiapas the backdrop of the long history of socioeconomic and 
other problems that plagued the region and some other poor Mexi- 
can states. Facing an exploding population which grew from 
160,000 in 1950 to over 700,000 now, rapid economic change and 
depleted land and resources, many Highland Indians in Chiapas 
are frustrated with their lot in life. 

They rightfully sense that they have been unfairly denied justice, 
dignity and the land they need to support their families in tradi- 
tionally life-styles. In our human rights reports for 1992 and 1993, 
we city instances of abuses in Chiapas by authorities arising out 
of frictions related to the marginalization of Chiapas' indigenous 
population, a substantial percentage of which are Mayan Indians, 
and competing demands for land and resources. 

My colleague has summarized for you the response of the Mexico 
Government as of early February to the situation and I will skip 
over that portion of my testimony that covers that. But I would like 
to focus on the extraordinai-y work that international human rights 
NGO's have done as well as Mexican indigenous NGO's in Chiapas. 
It has been immediate and impressive. To date, some 140 organiza- 
tions have sent representatives to Chiapas to offer assistance and 
gather information. I would like to take this opportunity to offer 
further support for those human rights monitors who have placed 
themselves in the middle of an uncertain and potentially dangerous 
situation in order to promote human rights in Chiapas; and to. take 
note of the fact that this is the way that human rights are very 
often most effectively advanced. 

We have spoken to some of them and look forward to further dis- 
cussions and to receiving their reports. We have also spoken with 
Mexican Government and opposition party officials, journalists, re- 
ligious and Indian human rights activists and others. 

I would like to address very specifically some of the major human 
rights concerns that have been raised about the Chiapas situation. 

I ask your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, to bear with me because 
these are important observations that I think need to be addressed 
in full from my prepared testimony. Most prominent among these 
concerns has been the claim tKat the Mexican military executed 
seven to nine captured rebels in the town of Ocosingo, that the 
military fired indiscriminately at civilians, that the military was 
responsible for the disappearances of suspected Zapatistas, and 
that the military arbitrarily detained and abused, perhaps even 
tortured, a number of civilians. 

Military personnel have been accused of raping women they had 
arrested or detained. Human rights monitors claim that the mili- 
tary and other authorities threatened private citizens, members of 
the press and members of the clergy, especially Bishop Samuel 
Ruiz, head of the Catholic Church in Chiapas, who has accepted 
the Government's invitation to serve as a mediator in talks with 
the insurgents. 

I should note that Bishop Ruiz was in Washington just a few 
months ago to receive the Letelier Moflfit Human Rights Award for 



18 

his work in Chiapas. Last fall, we discussed the situation in 
Chiapas with Bishop Ruiz's chief aide for human rights, Padre 
Pablo Roma. 

We have looked carefully into allegations of abuse related to the 
Chiapas uprising, and continue to assess the situation as events 
unfold and new information becomes available. While our knowl- 
edge is far from complete, I would like to review some of the infor- 
mation we have obtained so far, emphasizing that the incidents I 
describe are representative and not a comprehensive report. 

First, as to summary executions, observers agree that seven to 
nine persons suspected of participating in the uprising were exe- 
cuted on or about January 2 in Ocosingo. The individuals had been 
captured, disarmed and apparently had their hands bound behind 
their back at the time of the executions. 

We are not aware of any eyewitnesses, but the circumstances 
strongly suggest that the Mexican army was responsible. The army 
has claimed that it arrived to find the bodies already there. The 
CNDH announced on January 29 that the Military Attorney Gen- 
eral's Office would investigate accusations into the apparent sum- 
mary executions of rebels in Ocosingo. 

Number two, allegations of indiscriminate firing into inhabited 
areas. There were a number of occasions when aircraft fired on in- 
habited areas near San Cristobal, in some instances where there 
was no evidence or verification of Zapatista combatants in the vi- 
cinity. These attacks resulted in the deaths of noncombatant men, 
women and children. We are seeking to confirm how many. 

Three, military abuse of authority, physical mistreatment and 
disappearances. In the early days of the uprising the army as- 
sumed charge of the public safety and law enforcement duties nor- 
mally reserved to the civilian government, due in part to the with- 
drawal of the police and other civil authorities in the face of insur- 
gent hostilities. This situation continued well into the crisis, even 
after Federal law enforcement officials arrived. 

There is evidence that military personnel, who had no training 
in civilian law enforcement, in many cases disregarded basic civil 
and constitutional rights of Mexican citizens in areas under mili- 
tary control. There have been many reports of illegal and unjusti- 
fied detention; physical abuse and beatings of detainees; abusive 
treatment during questioning, possibly amounting to torture; and 
disappearances of persons believed to have be^n in military cus- 
tody. 

The military denies responsibility for human rights abuses, even 
in cases where there were multiple witnesses of public beatings 
and of persons verified to have been taken into military custody. 

These allegations of serious human rights violations, occurring 
during the early days after the uprising in Chiapas, are substantial 
and of great concern. They must be fully and thoroughly inves- 
tigated so that those responsible can be brought to justice under 
Mexican law. The Mexican Government has stated its commitment 
to do so. 

During the debate on NAFTA, I testified about problems in the 
areas of human rights and democracy in Mexico. I cited specific 
human rights abuses that are discussed in much greater detail in 



19 

our 1991 and 1992 annual human rights reports. These reports 
give specific examples of abuses in Chiapas. 

At the same time, I noted at the hearings significant institu- 
tional reforms that have been initiated during the last 3 years by 
the Salinas government in the areas of human rights accountability 
and electoral democracy. I noted then that NAFTA would enable 
the United States to work more closely with the Mexican Govern- 
ment to move those reforms forward. 

Events in Chiapas have borne out both the negative and positive 
elements I discussed in my testimony last Fall. Chiapas has experi- 
enced significant patterns of human rights abuse, but the govern- 
ment has also responded to the situation in a positive manner, as 
it did when it set up the CNDH and took other actions to curb 
humian rights abuses. 

We are aware of concerns that have been expressed by some 
human rights organizations and others that CNDH may lack the 
ability to investigate thoroughly and to follow through on all al- 
leged human rights abuses in Chiapas. Based on its record over the 
last 3 years we believe CNDH is capable of fulfilling its responsibil- 
ities, and we will follow its activities very closely as it addresses 
these allegations of abuse. 

We will continue to urge the Mexican Government to ensure that 
human rights are respected, and that all allegations of abuse are 
fully investigated and, when warranted, prosecuted. 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to join my 
colleague in answering your questions. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Shattuck appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you very much, Mr. Shattuck. 

Mr. Watson, before the Mexicans begin their process of reconcili- 
ation, there is the inevitable question that must go to the trust be- 
tween the institutions of this government. Congress just concluded 
a very long and painful debate about our economic future as en- 
compassed by the NAFTA agreement. 

During that debate and the testimony that was a part of it, vir- 
tually every senior official of the U.S. Government appeared before 
one committee of this Congress or another. 

I may not have listened to this debate as closely as some, but I 
think I heard it as well as most. I went to the vote unaware. In 
fact the people of Mexico were about to face an internal insurrec- 
tion based in part on Mexican agreement with the NAFTA accord. 

The question then arises as to whether in this testimony the 
Clinton administration was aware of training and planning and in- 
deed the likelihood that, by our actions and joining the NAFTA ac- 
cord, we were a part of something that was going to provoke such 
a widespread insurrection. 

Would you like to comment? 

Mr. Watson. Yes, sir. The Clinton administration and no organ 
of our Government, to my knowledge, had any idea that this out- 
break would occur on January 1 or any other time. As I mentioned 
briefly in my remarks, there had been some reports from time to 
time of armed groups moving around in Chiapas but they were 
never identified as guerrilla organizations necessarily. 



20 

Sometimes they were considered to be perhaps remnants of the 
Guatemalan armed insurrection groups that have moved back and 
north. There are 40,000 Guatemalans living in the Chiapas region. 
There is also drug trafficking going on through there. It was as- 
sumed that these people might be drug traffickers but there was 
never idea that the EZLN, as such, existed or certainly that they 
planned to take any action like this. 

In my statement, I tried to take on the charge which I think the 
EZLN has dropped. I have not heard there are reports that say 
somehow NAFTA is responsible for the conditions or is the impor- 
tant stimulus to their taking action. I think that was just an effort 
to attract some attention and publicity to their effort. I think the 
underlying problems I tried to outline and John Shattuck and Con- 
gressman Kennedy outlined have been there for a long, long time. 

There was absolutely no information that this government had 
any information that anything like this was going to happen. I as- 
sure you, Mr. Chairman, that had I been apprised of such informa- 
tion, I certainly would have made it available. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. There is the diflTiculty of the Foreign Broadcast- 
ing Information Service bulletin on August 11 that goes into great 
detail about the situation in Chiapas and tragically was not 
brought to the attention of this Congress during the debate be- 
cause, in considerable detail, it not only presents information about 
guerrilla movements in Chiapas but it reports that there were ris- 
ing tensions between indigenous people and ranchers, reports of 
mass arrests, rising human rights violations against the indigenous 
people by the Mexican military back to May of 1993. 

That, apparently, was followed by representatives of the Min- 
nesota Advocates for Human Rights who went to the State Depart- 
ment in August and reported that a group of insurgents were plan- 
ning an assault in Chiapas and reported this to the State Depart- 
ment. 

Were you aware of either this publication or that these meetings 
were taking place in the State Department? 

Mr. Watson. I was certainly not aware of any suggestion by the 
Minnesota group that this was going to take place. I may have seen 
the FBIS report, but I cannot recall right now, Mr. Chairman. I 
would like, if I may, to point out that what has happened in 
Chiapas has taken place in 4 municipalities of about 110 in the 
overall states. This is not to diminish its importance, but to show 
it is a limited phenomena at this point. 

I think it is also important to point out that it is not a uprising 
of all the people in any of these areas because there are people, one 
group or another, that sometimes split. Some people have joined 
the EZLN and some have not. There have been complaints by vil- 
lagers and even by some rural people in the valleys against the ac- 
tivities EZLN. 

It is not a homogeneous uprising by any means. It is a relatively 
small group of people who are certainly voicing concerns about very 
legitimate concerns. I don't want to deprecate their concerns, but 
I also would not exaggerate it as a huge uprising in this region. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Watson, 2,000 people who come forward 
after apparently months if not years of training and are prepared 
to confront a modern army of overwhelming advantage in size and 



21 

armaments in what is the equivalent of a suicidal mission clearly 
must represent considerable motivation. 

It would be my estimation that if 2,000 are prepared to spend 
their lives in this cause, it is unlikely that they represent only 
themselves. I do not come to this as any expert on affairs in 
Chiapas. I am learning about it as the American people are learn- 
ing about it. 

But all of us for a generation having lived through revolutionary 
change in the world come to it with certain impressions and preju- 
dices. It would be mine that it is extraordinarily unlikely, given the 
courage and commitment that was witnessed, that indeed this does 
not represent something considerably larger. 

Do you not share that view? 

Mr. Watson. I do indeed share the view that these people are 
responding to conditions that affect many people, not just those 
that rose up in arms and are of deep concern to almost everybody 
in that region in one way or another. As John Shattuck mentioned, 
there is tremendous pressure on the land. The land is quite rich, 
as Congressman Kennedy said, but the numbers of people who are 
trying to make a living on the lands have exploded exponentially. 

The plots of land have been divided into smaller and smaller 
pieces. It makes it extremely difficult for people to eke out a living. 
There certainly has been discrimination. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mrs. Meyers, would you like to add something. 

Mrs. Meyers. Just as a follow-up, you have indicated this was 
limited to a very limited area in Mexico. Today it seems that about 
4,000 peasants in another area, in the state of Oaxaca took over 
13 Federal, State and local buildings in this southern city to pro- 
test land debts, public services and other issues. It said they most 
apparently were connected with the opposition democratic revolu- 
tion party and the worker peasant student coalition of the isthmus. 

And further south in Chiapas, an estimated 3,000 peasants were 
demanding a suspension of land debts and bank foreclosures and 
they continued to block entry to a dozen banks. That is from today. 
It sounds to me as if the problem is spreading. 

Mr. Watson. I certainly don't want to minimize the problem. I 
didn't mean to do that. I just wanted to say that even within these 
areas where people have been rising up, not everybody is on the 
same side of every issue. 

Mr. ToRRiCELLi. What is the potential, in your judgment, in 
neighboring states for the insurrection to spread? 

Mr. Watson. My judgment at this point would be that it is not 
likely that the EZLN insurrection will spread much further, par- 
ticularly because they are engaged in the incipient phases of nego- 
tiating process with Mr. Camacho. He has accepted their four con- 
ditions for those negotiations. 

So my expectation would be that that process would move for- 
ward and the real underlying issues would be addressed and the 
hostilities would remain ceased as they are now. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. That would be all of our hopes. In giving my 
own impression and contacting people concerned, more than a few 
have indicated to us that there is precious little to talk about. I 
hope you are also right that it will not spread to other states. But 



22 

as one looks at the numbers and considers the political situation, 
one must question whether that is true. 

Mr. Shattuck, I want to speak with you about human rights of 
a different dimension. We are all concerned about the individual 
cases of abuse, but there is the larger issue of whether or not the 
political process is doing justice to the indigenous people and other 
poor people in Mexico. 

Could you cite for me in Chiapas the percentage or numbers of 
people who indeed are engaged in the process Dy being enfran- 
chised with the right to vote, the extent to which they are rep- 
resented in government through having been elected, and vour im- 
pression on whether or not there is a competitive electoral process 
that takes place in the region? 

Mr. Shattuck. Mr. Chairman, let me answer that question by 
citing, first of all, the depth of the roots of this issue, as I did in 
the introduction to my own testimony a minute ago, and as Con- 
gressman Kennedy did in his testimony. 

I think the issue is a problem of land, limitation of resources, 
and the inability of people — particularly indigenous people. The dif- 
ficulties that indigenous peoples have faced in Chiapas for some pe- 
riods of time is significant. 

This is something that has been publicly known and publicly 
stated. It has been referred to in human rights reports. The issues 
of human rights and democracy questions were aired extensively in 
two hearings last fall. Both I and my Principal Deputy Assistant 
Secretary testified on two separate occasions before two sub- 
committees about the long-standing problems of human rights and 
democratization in Mexico. 

With respect to enfranchisement, certainly the rights of people in 
the Chiapas area have not been sufficiently realized and protected. 

The developments that have occurred recently, particularly the 
ones to which Assistant Secretary Watson referred, should ulti- 
mately be a successful way of enfranchisement. Electoral reform 
has been under way since 1990, with the establishment of the Fed- 
eral Electoral Institute and the increase in voter identification sys- 
tems. 

On the other hand, as you and Congressman Kennedy stated, the 
issues are as much socioeconomic and discrimination as they are 
mediums of electoral reform. All of those issues, we believe, are 
being addressed. As others have said, this event could well be cata- 
lytic in getting further progress in the areas of human rights and 
democratization. 

Mr. ToRRlCKLLi. Mr. Shattuck, you suggest to us that either the 
people on that side of the table or on this side of the table are pro- 
foundly wrong about the events that were set in motion on January 
1. It is my belief that something of extraordinary consequence has 
now been set in motion in Mexico. That is both as inevitable as it 
is just and as foreseeable as to such an extent that it should have 
been a part of the judgment that was made in this country about 
our economic union with Mexico only a few months ago. 

Few things both confuse and trouble me more about American 
foreign policy than the fact that we are the world's oldest revolu- 
tionary society and yet fail to identify with those who are seeking 
the most basic rights under the foundation of our own country. It 



23 

appears to me from my own review of the requests of the people 
in the Chiapas uprising that, foremost, they are seeking enfran- 
chisement, a chance at a plurahst government and an end to cor- 
ruption. 

It has been my impression that those are the primary messages 
the United States has been attempting to share with nations 
around the world. Indeed, I would suggest that if an uprising were 
taking place in Russia where people were claiming they were de- 
nied enfranchisements, the political leadership was prolonging its 
power by choosing its own successors, members of their Congress 
and the administration would compete in offering amendments to 
deny American assistance and to qualify the relationship until the 
grievances were addressed. 

I believe that we defend the PRI and its peculiar form of democ- 
racy against the interests of the poor and indigenous people of 
Mexico at great peril to American interests and contradict the mes- 
sages that America is sending to the world. 

Mr. Smith. 

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Secretary, my first question relates to testimony which has 
been prepared by Juan Mendez of Human Rights Watch, formerly 
America's Watch. Fie asserts that in the rural areas those with 
close ties to the PRI own not only the lands but own the police, 
civil authorities and judges. He says that disputes over lands are 
resolved by force and social-political organizations that represent 
peasants who are persecuted. 

Chris Woehr from News Network International will testify that 
essentially municipal and community leaders operate essentially 
with impunity, their will is the law. There seems to be little will 
on the part of state authorities to intervene on behalf of individuals 
and entire communities when they are victimized by the actions of 
these community leaders. 

Is that true? Are those valid assessments of what would seem to 
be a very corrupt leadership in Chiapas? What kind of purge will 
be necessary to restore true justice in that area? Mr. Shattuck, do 
you believe that there can be a fair and impartial investigation, 
and then prosecution of those who have committed human rights 
abuses, whether they be guerrillas or the military, especially in 
light of the fact that the military is denying responsibility for those 
kinds of atrocities. 

Mr. Watson. 

Mr. Watson. I would think, Representative Smith, that the evi- 
dence would suggest that the political system in Chiapas was in 
the hands of some very powerful political bosses. The overwhelming 
vote turned out for one party not to the party's consistently. The 
evidence like those you just mentioned, and others from people who 
have been there, suggest that in some ways it is almost a feudal 
type system that existed down there. 

I think President Salinas himself admitted that though they put 
more money into Chiapas than any other state in their Chiapas 
program, and build roads and schools, lands, purified water, that 
it was not enough. I think the fundamental reason it was not 
enough is that it does not get at these political structural issues. 
I think Mr. Camacho, when he accepted the four conditions set 



24 

down by the EZLN for being in negotiations is in fact recognizing 
that these issues have not been dealt with effectively and must be 
dealt with now. 

The second part of your point, I am not sure I would use the 
word purge or what kind of political changes have to be undertaken 
there for this system to change. I guess it is a deeply rooted system 
in all the problems we have been talking about so far this after- 
noon, and it will take some time. I think that, obviously, the Presi- 
dent, Mr. Camacho, and Mr. Carpizo, are interested in making 
those changes as quickly as they possibly can. 

On the human rights abuse question, I will defer to John 
Shattuck, but maybe I can just say one thing. We have raised 
this — Ambassador Jones has raised this question even before the 
reports of human rights violations because we feared there might 
be just the kinds of situation that you would think would bring 
them about. 

We have been assured by Mexican leaders as recently as yester- 
day when we raised this again, that they were determined to inves- 
tigate all allegations of human rights abuses, identify those people 
who have perpetrated them, and punish them, be they military or 
civilian. 

They have a three-pronged investigation going simultaneously. 
One is the National Commission on Human Rights that Represent- 
ative Kennedy mentioned as investigating a whole series of cases 
and they are providing information on those, people who have been 
detained, people who have disappeared, and people whose human 
rights are alleged to have been violated. The Attorney General, Mr. 
Carpizo, a former human rights person himself, is doing investiga- 
tions as well and will do the prosecution of those cases brought to 
it by the prosecution. 

Third, the military Attorney General is doing his own investiga- 
tions and using information provided by the other two to inves- 
tigate cases of abuses by military personnel. My understanding is 
that the penalties in the military justice system are more fierce 
and harsh than the civilian is. 

There is a lot of attention being focused by us and also 140 
NGO's and lots of other governments and the media on this, and 
I think we have to assume that they will prosecute these cases ef- 
fectively. 

Mr. Shattuck. Mr. Smith, it is very good to see you for a second 
day, sir. We had a good hearing yesterday, and I appreciate your 
assistance on the human rights reports on a worldwide basis. 

Let me just begin my answer by commenting on the fact that, as 
I said in my testimony, we have been having regular meetings with 
a wide variety of people involved in the region on the subject of 
something possibly spreading to Oaxaca. 

Two weeks ago, some members of the Human Rights Bureau par- 
ticipated in a meeting with an oppositionist to explore multiparty 
democracy in Chiapas and the question of whether the insurgent 
uprising would spread to Oaxaca. There was no indication by the 
deputy that that might be the case at the time. 

Certainly last fall when we had occasion to meet with Bishop 
Ruiz' human rights aid, Padre Roma, we did discuss in depth the 
tensions and issues of human rights abuse that we have been con- 



25 

cerned about and have reported on. He did not specifically predict 
any uprising of the kind that occurred in January. 

On the question of the adequacy or the ability of the Mexican 
Government to respond to the kinds of human rights abuses that 
I have outlined in my testimony, over the last 3 years, the record 
of the Human Rights Commission and, more importantly, the refer- 
ral of cases to the Justice Department and the Attorney General 
for prosecution has been an impressive one. 

The creation of the Human Rights Commission in Mexico is pre- 
cisely the kind of indigenous governmental body that should inves- 
tigate and address human rights abuses in countries worldwide. I 
think it is commendable that Mexico has established such a com- 
mission. If those countries were to do similar commissions, I think 
the condition of human rights on a global basis would be consider- 
ably advanced. It is part of our human rights policy to advocate the 
creation of such commissions. 

In the period from May 1992 to November 1993, the Commission 
took or recommended 1,031 actions against government employees 
who it believed had engaged in human rights abuses. In 348 of 
those cases, criminal charges were later brought by the Attorney 
General. From January 1993 until November 1993, under the lead- 
ership of Jorge Carpizo, who was the first director of the Human 
Rights Commission and then became Attorney General in 1992, 
January, 1,295 government employees resigned or were fired as a 
result of human rights abuse allegations and investigations. Three 
hundred of those faced criminal charges. 

And during that short January to November 1993 period, 45 
were sentenced to prison for periods of more than 5 years for spe- 
cific human rights abuses. This is the solid record that has been 
compiled by the Human Rights Commission. 

I think that the fact that former Attorney General Carpizo has 
recently been appointed to the Interior Ministry is an indication of 
the commitment of President Salinas to ensure that the civil au- 
thorities who report to the Interior Ministry have the same kind 
of human rights approach that I think Mr. Carpiso took when he 
was running the Commission and later as Attorney General. 

This is precisely the kind of human rights activity and effort to 
get on top of human rights abuses that countries the world over 
ought to be engaged in. Mexico has many human rights problems 
to be sure. All of us do. As Congressman Kennedy pointed out, we 
have to in our own country. 

The seriousness with which the Mexican Government has taken 
this over the last 3 years and has indicated that it is taking the 
situation in Chiapas, I think, is precisely the direction U.S. policy 
in human rights ought to be taking. 

We are engaged in constant communications with the Govern- 
ment of Mexico. I would think the fact that we have closer relation- 
ships as a result of the conclusion of the NAFTA treaty, I think, 
is an indication that we can continue to encourage this kind of ac- 
tivity to take place. 

Mr. Smith. Secretary Watson, has the United States or the Mexi- 
can Government done an analysis of where the potential hot spots 
are in Mexico. This may be an issue which we should pursue on 
a more confidential basis. 



26 

I think this is especially important in light of the fact that unlim- 
ited amnesty has been given as of January 1. I am not sure how 
the amnesty will play out. The amnesty could have the unintended 
consequence of embodying some who see this as a way to get atten- 
tion. 

Clearly, we want to send the message that violence is not the 
way. I believe that by identifying those areas where it is most like- 
ly that violence could occur would be a most prudent course. 

Do we have such an assessment or are we looking to undertake 
that? 

Mr. Watson. I don't have a list of 10 spots, but we are certainly 
aware of the areas of Mexico where the living conditions and social 
conditions involve the most tension. They are mostly in the south- 
ern areas of the country. The Mexican country is acutely aware of 
this. That is why they have put so many resources in there but, 
obviously, it has not been enough to deal with some of these under- 
lying questions. 

I think it is important, without trying to analyze that much what 
is going on in Oaxaca until we have more information. I think it 
is important to note that a lot of these grievances have been ex- 
pressed to authorities many times, on many occasions. 

Mr. Smith. I have expressed them as well to Mr. Carpizo. 

Mr. Watson. But by the people in the region. They have said 
they think it is unfair that some of the decisions on land registry 
is not correct. They feel that sometimes political and judicial deci- 
sions have not been correct. They have protested those. I imagine 
that is what is happening in Oaxaca. I think you are absolutely 
right. Congressman Smith, to say that it is very important for peo- 
ple to understand violence is not the way to solve these problems. 

I think it is hopeful that the commanders of the EZLN, 
Zapatistas or whoever, and it has not been determined, that the 
talks with Mr. Camacho are imminent and the direction of those 
talks have been played out to address those underlying issues. I 
think the Mexican Government realizes it must come to grips with 
those as effectively as possible. 

Mr. Smith. As we continue to follow these issues, I would hope 
that the information is shared with U.S. business interests, espe- 
cially post-NAFTA approval, because certainly they would need to 
have a risk assessment about the situation. 

I believe you mentioned earlier in your testimony that U.S. per- 
sonnel were immediately dispatched to the troubled area to ascer- 
tain what was happening to the American citizens. 

What is the situation of U.S. citizens in Chiapas? 

Mr. Watson. No American citizens were killed to our knowledge. 
Our folks down there, there were five that went down there, sent 
by Ambassador Jones, a former member of the Congress, as you 
are aware. They were sent down there and they found some Amer- 
ican citizens who were frightened, hiding in their houses, and they 
helped those people get out and get back to places where they could 
be taken care of. 

Our people are back down there again looking around. They have 
no evidence of any serious problems at this point for American citi- 
zens, thank God. • 

Mr. Smith. Thank you. 



27 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Menendez. 

Mr. Menendez. Thank you Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Secretary, good afternoon. I would Hke to ask you, what does 
it mean that there are no organic ties with any foreign group or 
movement in your statement? What does that mean exactly? 

What does it mean that there is no relationship, that we have 
discovered, or that the Mexican Government has discovered be- 
tween the EZLN and other political organizations elsewhere? 

Mr. Watson. The word "organic" is designed to leave open the 
possibility that there may be individual soldiers of fortune or some- 
thing that are involved, but we had don't know that. It may be 
that. But there is no relationship that anybody has been able to de- 
tect between EZLN and any other group, URNG in Guatemala or 
any other country or anyone in El Salvador or what have you. 

There are a few Guatemalans that have been picked up by au- 
thorities. Some have gone across the border. They may be involved 
in some fashion, but if they are, as far as we can tell it is strictly 
on an individual basis. 

Mr. Menendez. It is because I perceived that — that was an open- 
ing that I asked you. So what you are telling the subcommittee is 
that at this point in time, for example, there are those that have 
said that Guatemalan, URNG were, and in fact, efforts by Cuba 
were involved. 

You are saying none of that was substantiated at this point. 

Mr. Watson. That is correct. As Representative Kennedy said, 
and he was there at a crucial time, at the highest level of Mexican 
Government, nobody believes those reports of northern leadership 
or participation. 

Mr. Menendez. How do we explain the emergence of an uprising 
in the state that traditionally votes strongly for a long-entrenched 
PRI? Despite all the statements that I have heard of long-standing 
suffering, how do we explain that people who have been neglected, 
who have been abused, in fact, would be supporting the PRI in sig- 
nificant numbers for such a long period of time? 

Mr. Watson. I would leave a full answer to people who are ex- 
pert on that in the State Department more than I am. 

What I understand from our Embassy is that the voting patterns 
in Chiapas are such that their regional chiefs sometimes from in- 
digenous groups or sometimes just local political leaders have the 
ability to deliver large numbers cif votes and that the followers de- 
liver the votes the way they are asked to delivered them. 

It is a phenomenon that is not unique to Mexico, but that the po- 
litical machines work in such a way that the votes are delivered 
on election day. It does not mean necessarily that the political sys- 
tem is responsive to the interests of those people that are voting. 
That is my understanding of how that came about. 

Mr. Menendez. It has nothing to do with the integrity of the po- 
litical system then? 

Mr. Watson. I would think that if the people who are casting the 
votes for whatever reason feel that they must vote the way a politi- 
cal boss tells them to vote, you have to have some questions about 
how that system is working. 

Mr. Menendez. What I would suggest is that — you are saying it 
is because of a political leadership that can deliver large numbers 



28 

of votes, not the electoral system, not any fraud, not a system that 
would obviously be providing a result that is different than the 
needs of the people of that area. 

Mr. Watson. I would not want to rule any of that out. We can 
take a further look at it if you would like and get back to you. I 
would not rule any of that out. But the explanation I was given is 
the one I shared with you. 

MR. Menendez. Secretary Watson, would you agree with me 
that if the Clinton foreign diplomacy, which I have heard Secretary 
Christopher cite before the full committee that has several pillars 
to it, and one of the pillars is human rights and democracy, that 
if that pillar is to stand up, that it must be expressed by the U.S. 
Government, whether we have expressed it in the case of a friend 
or a foe? 

Mr. Watson. Sure. 

Mr. Menendez. Then in regard to what goes on in Mexico, which 
we consider a friend, I am going to raise this. I don't want to bring 
their statement in full before they get a chance to present it. But 
I have the statement of one of the witnesses, Fernando Hernandez, 
who lives in Chiapas. 

He says, which I think is typical of what has been going on here 
and a significant thing that we had glossed over too much, part of 
his statement says, "After marching 2,000 miles we arrived," talk- 
ing about a significant group of people who went from Chiapas in 
a march to Mexico City to speak to the President of the Republican, 
he says, "After marching 2,000 miles, we arrived but no one, not 
the President, not no one was there to talk with us. This dem- 
onstrates how willing the government is to resolve the problems. 
What the Zapatistas have done is gone one step further to resolve 
the land claim issues." 

Then, "The killing and disappearance of native people in Mexico 
is a common and daily occurrence. The army goes into commu- 
nities, burns villages and removes people. It is important to know 
that repression of indigenous people and landless mestizos is not 
something new. It has gone on daily and the Government does 
nothing to protect the human rights of the people involved." 

Many of us who are concerned about that, about what we were 
doing with NAFTA was entering an old generation of treaties ver- 
sus a new generation of treaties. As far as questions of human 
rights and democracy, how do we reconcile a statement like that 
on the grounds with the reality of the situation with the gloss we 
seem to give it? Doesn't that make our foreign diplomacy less credi- 
ble? 

Mr. Watson. Representative Menendez, I don't want to put any 
gloss on anything here. I think that Mr. Hernandez' statement 
should be accepted at face value. He lives there. He knows what 
he is talking about. It is not inconsistent with what we understand 
conditions have been like in Chiapas. I think those kinds of issues 
are at the center of what this is all about. 

I think that President Salinas has indicated and the Mr. 
Camacho, as well. They understand that and they want to get at 
it. As Mr. Shattuck said, the Mexico democracy process is evolving 
and we think it is evolving in a very constructive way. It is too bad 
it is not perfect already, but it is moving in the right direction. 



29 

I would venture to say that what has evolved relatively rapidly 
at the Federal or national level, institution of new procedures and 
things and new agreements among the parties, et cetera, getting 
those kinds of agreements and understandings to work on the local 
level is more difficult and takes longer and may not have been pur- 
sued as aggressively as it might have been. 

One would hope that this particular set of circumstances we are 
talking about today would bring about some of those changes at the 
local level more rapidly and move effectively than otherwise might 
have been the case. We press the Mexican Government on democ- 
ratization issues all the time when we talk to them. 

I think President Salinas and the other leaders understand the 
absolute necessity of moving in the right direction now if they are 
going to have a successful modern society and the political section 
of the society is going to keep up with the economic reforms that 
are taking place. 

Mr. MENENDr<]Z. Are you satisfied with what has been portrayed 
as democratization efforts and the restructuring, the "reform"? 

There are many who raise questions, that that is truly not re- 
form because what it ensures, although it appears to be reform, 
that, in fact, the Electoral Fraud Board that is appointed is ap- 
pointed by the PRI and that it is, yes, proportionate representation, 
but the process and the manner in which that proportion of rep- 
resentation takes place ends up securing for the PRI still a major- 
ity. 

So while it is proposed as reform, because it now brings parties 
who may not have been parties before, in fact, it still ensures a ma- 
jority of one party, is that truly reform? 

Mr. Watson. I think it is clear, as I tried to state in my state- 
ment, that the reforms that have been made in 1990 and that ones 
made last year have not been fully satisfactory to the opposition 
parties or to others. 

But what I wanted to highlight is that the decisions made by the 
eight political parties on the 27th to a whole series of measures to 
guarantee that the next round of elections are dramatically dif- 
ferent from elections that have taken place in the past, that that 
is a really dramatic step and it remains to be seen how well it will 
be implemented. 

At this point, each observer I know of the Mexican scene has 
given enormous importance to these steps, all the parties on board. 
Another set of agreements reached a few days before and to which 
the PRD, Mr. Cardin, I believe signed on yesterday, was a sort of 
20 commandments for how the elections will be run. 

I think there is tremendous process, Congressman Menendez, of 
political reform that is going on as we are sitting here and as we 
are watching and it is very exciting. 

Mr. Menen):)EZ. I am warmed by the possibilities, don't mis- 
understand me, but I don't want to tout as reform that which is 
truly not reform. 

My point is what is now being discussed, as you have stated, in 
terms of the meeting of the different political leaderships to hope- 
fully accomplish these goals is one thing, but what has, as I under- 
stand it, legislatively been enacted in order to accomplish reform, 
which is the one thing that can gviide us for the moment, falls short 



81-474 0-94-2 



30 

of reform because, in fact, while it purports to be reform by bring- 
ing in the proportional representation, it still leaves and ensures, 
guarantees the ruling party control. 

How can we not point that out? I have not heard testimony yet 
either in the course of the NAFTA legislation or now today that 
says we recognize maybe this is a step forward, but this is not re- 
form. Reform is when truly everyone is on an equal footing. 

Mr. Watson. Well, what I was trying to say is that the decisions 
and the agreement reached on the 27tn just a few days ago by all 
the parties looks like the kind of reform you are talking about. I 
also understand that if the parties agree that if legislation is re- 
quired to implement some of these decisions they arrived at on the 
27th, they can have a special session of the Congress to deal with 
these things. 

Mr. Menendez. So what you are telling me is that what exists 
legislatively you have agree is not reform. What is proposed in this 
new agenda is hoped to come to the point where we can truly say 
we have reform. 

Mr. Watson. I don't want to denigrate the steps taken for reform 
in the past. All observers of the Mexico scene who know more 
about these things than I do, including Mexican leaders of all polit- 
ical parties, think these agreements met a few days ago will have 
a tremendous impact. 

Mr. Menendez. Maybe what my concern is, Mr. Secretary, is we 
need to give warmth to the opportunities for reform. But I think 
we cannot afford, if we are truly going to promote democratization 
and human rights, to call something reform when it is not, because 
then we join in the process, in my opinion, we join in the process 
of being disingenuous with the people we hope to help. That is a 
concern I have. 

I know it is a tight rope to walk, but we also need to say when 
something is not reform. 

My last question, if I may. 

Mr. Shattuck. Mr. Menendez, would you mind if I jumped in 
and provided just a brief additional response to that point? 

Mr. Menendez. As long as it does not obviate my last question. 

Mr. Shattuck. I hope I won't incur any of your time. 

I want to emphasize the seriousness with which President Clin- 
ton and all elements within the administration take the issue of an 
evenhanded approach toward issues of human rights and democra- 
tization. 

It is a pillar of the President's foreign policy precisely because all 
nations of the world are looked at in a very consistent and fair 
way. In the case of Mexico, there has been no lack of serious treat- 
ment of the human rights abuses and the problems of democratiza- 
tion. 

I refer you to the report that was released yesterday and some 
of the things that it says, quite specifically about the difficulties of 
democratization in Chiapas. Assistant Secretary Watson has com- 
mented on the political ties between the PRI and the tribal leaders. 
These ties provide a very difficult situation in terms of removing 
corrupt or ineffective leaders once they have obtained PRI backing 
and, nonetheless, can produce a significant amount of turnout in 
the voting for PRI candidates. 



31 

This is an area clearly that is in need of reform. It is precisely 
the reform vector that we are talking about here. We now have 
some 12 million to 15 million Mexicans out of 90 million who are 
governed at the state or local level by opposition parties. That is 
quite new. 

We have 3 of the 31 governorships and 10 percent of Mexico's 
municipalities that are now governed by opposition parties. This is 
a pattern which needs to be encouraged and recognized, while at 
the same time the kinds of human rights abuses we have been 
characterizing, as well as democratization difficulties, as we point- 
ed out in our report. That is what the President's policy on democ- 
racy and human rights is-all about. 

Mr. Meni-:ndez. Thank you. My last question, Mr. Secretary, is — 
and hopefully it will be seen in a positive light. AP today points 
out that the Mexican industry lost 178,000 jobs in 1993, with the 
industrial states in Mexico being the hardest hit. This is what the 
government newspaper, El Nationale, reported. 

Now, in that context some of the root causes in terms of what 
happened in Chiapas and the questions of the economic needs, how 
do we help in securing that maybe the responses — we would seek 
responses in displacements here in the United States that if the in- 
dustrial states are the ones who lost 178,000 jobs, no insignificant 
amount in a country like Mexico, how do we ensure that resources 
and that the benefits of NAFTA will go to Chiapas and not simply 
be geared toward where displacement taking place and if there is 
no answer to that, don't we have a longer term problem? 

Mr. Watson. We will — I think these are fundamental decisions 
for the Mexican Government to make. I think the jobs that have 
been lost have been lost in the industrial sectors, because the eco- 
nomic growth last year was rather slow and they expected to pick 
up this year. 

Jobs were created in nonindustrial areas, which is positive. I 
think the Mexican Government has shown that by the investment 
of the per capita highest amount in the country and the solidarity 
problem in Chiapas that they are conscious of the need to transfer 
resources to those areas that most need it and those areas where 
the private sector is not going to do the job by itself 

So I would think that the record so far indicates that they are 
aware of this. They have had a budget surplus in calendar 1993. 
Our anticipation is that they are going to be using that surplus 
to address some of these problems. I don't want to get out in front 
of what the Mexican Government will do, but their performance in- 
dicates that they do transfer resources to the areas that most need 
it. 

Mr. Meniwdkz. I don't intend to tell the Mexican Government 
what to do, but what does the U.S. Government presently do in 
their relationship with Mexico in any type of assistance or program 
that would help the Mexican Government improve the situation in 
Chiapas? 

Mr. Watson. Well, we have very, very small assistance programs 
in Mexico that focus on a few environmental projects and the popu- 
lation questions chiefiy and a few others. We don't have those 
kinds of resources. But obviously by our dialogue with Mexicans, 



32 

we are always encouraging them to try to come to grips with these 
kinds of problems. 

Mr. Menendez. Thank you. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

The country reports on human rights practices that was released 
just yesterday states "indigenous people who converted from their 
traditional Catholic religion to evangelical faiths continue to be 
forcibly expelled from their houses by other villagers despite efforts 
by the state government and the Catholic hierarchy to stop such 
actions." 

How do you describe the efforts of the state governments and the 
Catholic hierarchy to stop such action? Would you agree with that 
statement? 

Mr. Watson. This is a matter of concern to us. I believe we 
looked at it in our human rights reports over the years. Discrimi- 
nation against persons on the basis of religious affiliation is illegal 
in Mexico. Nevertheless it takes place. We talked about this in 
Chiapas where people converted to the evangelical faith were being 
forced from their homes by other groups. We heard reports of this 
activity in other parts of Mexico as well. These are extremely dis- 
turbing. 

This is something we try to keep an eye on and tried to report 
about in the human rights report. Perhaps Mr. Shattuck can ad- 
dress it in more detail. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. When you say "we keep our eye on them," 
what is the proper U.S. role when we are confronted with reports 
of blatant human rights violations? What should be the proper U.S. 
response to such documentation of abuses? 

Mr. Shattuck. The human rights reports are intended to be the 
basic information on which all of our judgments and policies with 
respect to human rights and democratization are made throughout 
the year. They become the tool for use within the country itself 
where they are widely distributed. 

We hope they give support to those effoi'ts that are seeking re- 
form, which is one of the themes of this hearing. They have pro- 
vided information that we hope verifies some of the concerns that 
have been raised about human rights violations. In addition, they 
provide a means for governments to be addressed to make sure 
that they themselves take seriously the allegations of human rights 
abuse and the need for democratic reform. 

This will be the tool for much of our policy in this area vis-a-vis 
Mexico over the next year. I think that same thing could be said 
for virtually every other country, but it is particularly important in 
Mexico. 

Let me say a word about the issue of freedom of religion and dis- 
crimination against people for their I'eligious activities. The chal- 
lenge of ensuring freedom of religion is one of the great crisis in 
the world today. 

Mr. Smith and I have talked about this extensively in the context 
of China. It is one of the major elements of our dialogue with China 
right now on human rights issues. It becomes particularly complex 



33 

when two private bodies or two individuals who are competing over 
freedom of rehgion, and one is trying to influence another. 

The conduct of government in this case is particularly difficult. 
It is certainly a problem in our own country in terms of providing 
opportunities for evangelical freedom of religion, while at the same 
time protecting the freedoms of others. 

Certainly in the case of Mexico, to the extent that there are 
physical violations, abuses, removal of people from houses, and 
matters of that kind, that it becomes a serious issue for the Mexi- 
can criminal process. It is one of the issues that we believe the 
Mexican Commission on Human Rights should address. Indeed, 
some of the allegations of violations brought to their attention are 
in this area. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtenen. But the report that says these efforts by the 
state government to stop such actions — we have not had any ver- 
ification that any effort truly was undertaken. It just seems that 
that is quite a highly impacted statement with very little truth be- 
hind it. The facts don't seem to substantiate that the state govern- 
ment was actually involved in trying to stop this action from taking 
place. 

Mr. Shattuck. I think that refers to the complaints brought to 
the Mexican Commission on Human Rights and their investigation 
and referral of those complaints to the Attorney General for pros- 
ecution. There are complaints in the area of religious discrimina- 
tion. Certainly a great deal more could be done. 

I want to emphasize how difficult it is when there are two pri- 
vate individuals, neither of them in the government, who are im- 
pinging on each other's freedom of religion. 

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Just one last question: How comfortable do 
you feel, either of you gentlemen, in characterizing Mexico as truly 
a democratic country given that, as we have just discussed for sev- 
eral hours, the total control of the PRI and the political process and 
the handpicking of the next candidate and that candidate being as- 
sured victory? 

In your statement. Ambassador Watson, you said it is widely ac- 
knowledged by most observers that the prominence of the PRI has 
discouraged the development of an open democratic process. 

Given the reality of the total control of this party and the domi- 
nance that it has on Mexican life, how confident are you that simi- 
lar incidents will not have a spill-over effect and you will not have 
these uprisings in other areas where people feel totally 
disenfranchised from what can only, by a large stretch, be called 
a democratic government. 

Mr. Watson. I think I would share the view expressed by Rep- 
resentative Kennedy earlier. I understood him to say that Mexico 
is a rapidly evolving democracy. If you look at where Mexico was 
a few years ago and compare it to where it was a few weeks ago 
and compare it to what has happened in the last few days, I think 
you can see dramatic political change. 

The figures that Dr. Shattuck indicated about the number of po- 
litical units that are now having elected officials from the opposi- 
tion party, not as much as you would expect, but still evolving and 
increasing. These reforms entered into the last few days seem to 
be very dramatic. So I think it is a democracy which is by no 



34 

means perfect, but moving and evolving in the right direction very 
rapidly. 

Perhaps it is more rapidly at the national area than at the local 
area. I think that it is pretty clear that what happened in Chiapas 
has energized their process, as I said in my statement. Therefore, 
there may be some beneficial effect to this unfortunate incident. 

In this regard, I would like to mention that the information I just 
got now on these demonstrations in Oaxaca are really quite dif- 
ferent, as I tried to suggest before. They are not part of the EZLN. 
They are not an armed force. They are not calling for overthrow of 
the government. These are people peacefully protesting land reg- 
istry and credit questions in a couple of towns. 

It is the kind of stuff that has gone on in Oaxaca from time to 
time and the kind of things that I think the Mexican Government 
needs to fmd a way to deal with systematically rather than only 
in response to these kinds of demonstrations. 

Mr. Shattuck. Let me just emphasize what I think is the theme 
of the President's policy in this area. The administration supports 
grassroots democracy and human rights movements, which are a 
very powerful, and indeed, global phenomenon. It is very strong in 
Mexico. 

I think there are strong winds of reform, efforts to produce more 
democracy, and people who are struggling at the grassroots level, 
such as human rights organizations, local organization, and indige- 
nous groups. It is their efforts to achieve reform that our President 
stands for, and that the policy of democratization is all about. 

This is what the story in Mexico is. It is the story of reform and 
change, the challenge of change in this post-cold war era, as the 
world is changing so rapidly. It is a challenge of managing change 
and developing democratic opportunities and protecting human 
rights. It is a story that is unfolding daily in Mexico. 

I think what we have described here are some very painful inci- 
dents, some very difficult facts, and facts that need to be ad- 
dressed. But we believe that at both the grassroots level and at the 
level of the leadership of the country those forces of change are 
winning. 

Ms. Ros-Lkhtinkn. Thank you. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your testi- 
mony. We appreciate your contribution to the subcommittee today 
and your time. 

The subcommittee will now receive testimony from Mr. Fernando 
Hernandez and Ms. Maria del Rosario del Hernandez, citizens of 
Chiapas. Would Mr. Alexander Ewen also come forward for pur- 
poses of providing an introduction? 

Mr. Ewen. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. TORRICKLLI. Welcome. During the course of planning this 
hearing it was the intention of this subcommittee to receive testi- 
mony from officials of the Catholic Church, from various leaders of 
the peoples of Chiapas. All this proved to be exceedingly difficult. 

It was at least alleged by many of these peoples that they were 
subjected to considerable pressure by officials of the Mexican Gov- 
ernment not to come forward and offer testimony. It is exceedingly 
rare with a committee of the Congress that anyone would interfere 
with that process. 



35 

I regret that it is at least alleged that it happened in this in- 
stance. Each of you are to be commended for having the courage 
and the conviction to share with us today your thoughts. The sub- 
committee is very indebted to you, as should your people, that you 
have exhibited this independence of thought and this courageous 
spirit. We welcome you. We look forward to your testimony. Thank 
you, once again, for your presence here today. 

Mr. Ewen, would you like to begin with some comments by way 
of mtroduction of our guests? 

Mr. Ewen. Yes, thank you, Mr. Torricelli. I especially want to 
thank the staff of the subcommittee for going the extra mile to try 
to bring indigenous people to this hearing. This is a unique and in 
many ways an historic event that indigenous people from Chiapas 
can come and address the U.S. Congress. It is certainly not com- 
mon, even in the halls of the Mexican Government. 

I am of Tarascan descent from Michoacan. I am the Director of 
the Solidarity Foundation, a native research foundation. 

One of the things I wanted to note in my introduction is that 
Mexico has more indigenous people than any other country in this 
hemisphere and a greater variety with almost 230 distinct Indian 
languages spoken in Mexico. 

Yet we need to understand that Mexican native people do not 
have, in spite of the numbers and varieties, do not have the institu- 
tional protections to their land. They do not have reservations. 
They do not have government-to-government or similar types of 
ways of addressing the Mexican Government like the native people 
here in the United States do. 

In particular, in Mexico they are not a part of the national de- 
bate on questions of policy such as economic development and other 
areas which can significantly impact the native people, so I am 
pleased and honored to introduce members of the truly great 
Mayan Nation who have suffered truly intolerable conditions with 
tremendous dignity and who have, in pressing for their rights and 
would never stop pressing for their rights, have done so with re- 
markable restrains and have attempted to exhaust all the peace- 
able means and have gone the extra mile to bring their issues to 
the Mexican Government. 

I am especially pleased that Fernando Hernandez from Tzotzil 
from San Cristobal del Casas, a man well known by the native peo- 
ple here in the United States for his work on behalf of his Mayan 
people and his sister, Maria Del Rosario Hernandez, were able to 
come also from Tzotzil and bring an eye witness and a general 
statement about the conditions and the wishes and the desires of 
the Mayan people. 

Mr. TORRICELIJ. Mr. Hernandez. 

STATEMENT OF FERNANDO HERNANDEZ AND MARIA DEL 
ROSARIO HERNANDEZ, TZOTZIL MAYANS FROM SAN CRISTO- 
BAL DE LAS CASAS, CHL\PAS, MEXICO THROUGH ALEXAN- 
DER EWEN, INTERPRETER, A TARCASCAN INDIAN 

Mr. Hernandez. I want to begin by thanking Representative 
Torricelli and members of the subcommittee for inviting me to 
speak on behalf of my people in this hearing. It is important to un- 



36 

derstand the problems in Chiapas, the historical roots beginning 
with the Spanish invasion of our territory. 

This destruction of our communal lands, when the church cre- 
ated feudal lands and the Spanish established encomiendas. Both 
systems used native people as slaves. 

Mayan people have stayed strong because they have stayed close 
to their culture. Despite the oppression of the system, Mayans have 
preserved their beliefs up to this time. It is really important for 
people to know that the present struggle is not an isolated event, 
l3ut it has come to the point where enough is enough. 

This is not the first time that Mayan people have risen up 
against oppression to protect their lands. In the 1700's, Jacinto 
Canek led an uprising led by Jacinto Perez Pajarito against the 
Spanish. But for a long time, the Mayan people have kept faith 
with the government by asking them to resolve the problems of the 
Mayans. Yet, this has resolved nothing. 

We do not believe that violence is the end of the struggle. Prob- 
lems must be resolved in a peaceful way. For the past 30 years, I 
have seen the racism against my people. Mayans are forced into 
the streets when mestizos are on the sidewalk. I have witnessed 
the changes in my people who become more involved in protecting 
their language and culture and traditions. 

During the 1960's and 1970's, landless mestizos and Mayans 
formed alliances to resolve the land claims which are at the bottom 
of this struggle, a struggle common to indigenous peoples across 
the entire continent. 

Last year, from Palenque in Chiapas there was a march to Mex- 
ico City to talk to the President of the Republic. After marching 
2,000 miles, we arrived, but no one was there to talk to us. This 
demonstrates how willing the government is to resolve the prob- 
lems. What the Zapatistas have done is to go one step further, in 
order to press the government to resolve the land claim issues. 

The killing and disappearance of native people in Mexico is a 
common and daily occurrence. The army goes into communities, 
burns villages and removes people. It is important to know that re- 
pression of indigenous people and landless mestizos is not some- 
thing new. It has gone on daily and the government does nothing 
to protect the human rights of the people involved. 

The Zapatista movement accurately reflects the wishes of native 
and Mayan people in Mexico. What I believe is that my people 
want to live in peace, but peace can only come when the ejido lands 
are returned and protected under the constitution. It is important 
to know that in preparation for NAFTA, Salinas abolished the pro- 
tection of ejidos (communal lands) through a constitutional amend- 
ment. 

NAFTA should include protection of native lands, culture, tradi- 
tions and communities. We also want the release of native pris- 
oners and leaders and the end of human rights abuses, not just for 
our indigenous peoples, but for all Mexicans. What we want is land 
and to live in peace. We want land and peace and that the Govern- 
ment respect the language, culture and traditions of indigenous 
peoples and allow us to become more autonomous. Education 
should be left to our elders and directed by our traditional people 
in our communities. 



37 

I thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to speak 
to you on a matter of such importance to my people. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you very much for your testimony. 

Mr. ToRRiCELLl. Could I ask the translator what your intention 
is here? Are you doing this by paragraph? 

The Interpreter. She will read that much and then I will 

Mr. TORRICELLI. By paragraph? 

The Interpreter. Yes, it is all one paragraph. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. If it is all one paragraph, you are not doing the 
statement. Break it into portions. 

Ms. Del Rosario Hernandez. The Zapatista army arrived the 
January 1 and had taken over the square in San Cristobal where 
an infinity of rumors were running rampant that the Zapatistas 
were thugs, rapists, and murderers, but none of that was true as 
we were able to see. 

Some of the people in the town went to the square where we 
were able to see that these were native peoples from the commu- 
nities, peaceful, and we could talk and find out from them or ask 
from them why they had been led to take up arms. I personally 
went to some of them and asked them what was the cause of the 
uprising. 

They answered me by saying that they preferred to die fighting 
than to live another 500 years in hunger and poverty. The people 
of San Cristobal did not show any fear in the presence of the 
Zapatista army. 

The fear arose on January 2 when the Mexican Army reached 
the city. 

We all tried to be in our house for fear of what might happen. 
On January 3, the strike began to the south of the city at 5 in the 
afternoon. It made a tremendous impact. For the first time, I heard 
a bomb go off. 

All of us climbed up on top of our houses to see if the airplanes 
were going to stop bombing. This lasted 45 minutes. The planes 
and the helicopters continued to over fiy the city. 

The people in the communities are asking for peace, but they are 
also claiming their rights. They do not want promises. They want 
land. 

On January 7, the first march toward the bombed-out commu- 
nities took place, the communities to the south of the city. All of 
us were dressed in white, and we reached the community of San 
Antonio del Coralito. Everything was deserted. The animals were 
running all over the place. What we found thrown down were enve- 
lopes of condoms. 

Various committees during the tensest and most difficult days 
wanted to reach the community of Ocosingo where the armed con- 
frontations were taking place, but the Mexican Army did not au- 
thorize passage to go into the area, the zone of confiict. 

The days passed and fear grew in the population, especially in 
the indigenous population which lacks resources and means to sur- 
vive. The days passed and the — and on the 14th Mr. Salinas de 
Gortari ordered a cease-fire. 

He ordered the army and its tanks out of the city, but instead 
of the army, he sent in police from the office of the attorney gen- 
eral. 



38 

In the city — in the city itself, in the house which was the house 
of Diego de Masiagos, the whole army was left, was left in that 
house, but peace did not return to the city. Classes were sus- 
pended, businesses closed early out of fear. 

And personally, I wanted to leave San Cristobal. My children 
were afraid. Their constant anguish every time I went to the mar- 
ket for fear that the army would kill me. We could not live in peace 
because we were not accustomed to the planes, the helicopters, and 
the military presence in the city. 

I, as a Mayan Indian, I desire peace for the Mayan people which 
is in a situation of struggle at this point in time. 

Thank you. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you very much for your testimony, and 
again for your courage in being with us today. It is our hope to un- 
derstand more of the motivation of the struggle and its dimensions. 

By your testimony, you can be extremely useful to us in gaining 
this understanding, so let me ask several questions, if I could, and 
invite either of you to respond. Is it your own impression that sup- 
port for this rebellion is held by one element of the population or 
that when these actions were taken, a greater majority was sympa- 
thetic? 

Help us understand the depth of sympathies by those who did 
not take up arms. 

Mr. Hernandez. I think the problem of the Chiapas has been for 
so many years and at this time there is a lot of support in the 
sense of what the Zapatista Liberation Army is doing because it re- 
flects what the indigenous people want, not only in Mexico, but all 
over this continent, and I believe there is a lot of support coming 
from the population, and all I can say is that at the beginning of 
this trial, we are only Mayan people, but hearing what is going on 
in Oaxaca, I believe that this problem is spreading and that the 
support is coming more, not only in Mexico, but in different places 
and that right now the problem of claims is not only the issues of 
native people, but to all Mexican people. 

Mr. ToRRiCELLi. You have addressed the economic motivation for 
what has occurred. Help me explain the political motivation. In ad- 
dition to the desire for land and the ability to sustain some basic 
decency of life, is the inability of access to the justice system or the 
political system also a factor? 

And if it is a factor, how important does it weigh in this motiva- 
tion? 

Mr. Hernandez. I believe that Mayan people, you know, native 
people in Mexico have a big demand of the government to resolve 
these issues, and I believe there is an unwillingness of the Mexican 
Government to resolve these issues, and what we are asking is that 
through all these reforms, they can resolve these issues. 

I believe that the Mayan people are willing to sit down and talk 
and to resolve this. 

Mr. Torricelli. Let me approach it a little differently. I have 
read that it is the impression of the Mayan people in the region 
that you cannot go to a court and get fair justice if you are an in- 
digenous person, that if you pai'ticipate in the political system, it 
is unlikely that you would be able to vote for or support people who 



39 

are also indigenous people, so that they are apart from the judicial 
and the elective political system. Could you comment on that? 

Mr. Hernandez. Yes, I say in the experience of Mayan people 
that we are the least of the people in Mexico. We are not even 
looked as part of the system, but we are used in the system. All 
the votes that the PRI are there and there are names of people who 
died 20, 30 years ago who are still in the vote list of the PRI, and — 
but this hasn't allowed Mayan people to be part of the political 
process in Mexico, and because the Mexican Government has not 
asked indigenous people to be part of that process, and we cannot 
get into the system to talk as one-to-one in court, and I think what 
is important for Mayan people with this is that probably we can 
gain some recognition as human beings, because in the past we 
have been treated as animals. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mrs. Hernandez, if at any point you want to an- 
swer any of these questions, please do. Is it the choosing of Janu- 
ary 1 for this uprising, is this a coincidence that this is also the 
day that NAFTA went into effect? Is NAFTA a mere symbol or does 
it have some substantive importance in the struggle? 

Ms. Del Rosario HEimANDEZ. For many of us, this event came 
as a complete surprise. We did not know that the Mayan people 
were going to take up arms, but it is very clear that the Mayan 
people became tired of so many promises and never a reply to any 
of their petitions. 

To the contrary, we have felt deceived by those in the govern- 
ment. We got so tired of the situation that the only alternative to 
the attitude of the government was to take up arms. 

For the last 10 years, we have attempted to engage in a dialogue 
with the government, including the government of Chiapas state 
where there is the most want, hunger, and poverty. Never did we 
receive any response. On the contrary, now there is even less land 
distribution in the state of Chiapas than before. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Smith. 

Mr. Smith. Thank you. 

Ms. Hernandez and Mr. Hernandez, I want to thank you for your 
very powerful testimony. You help to give a human face and an eye 
witness presence to this subcommittee as to what happened in 
Chiapas and we fmd it — I fmd it very moving, and I want to thank 
you for the very, very fme public service you have performed, not 
only for the subcommittee, but for the American people who will be 
watching and paying attention to these proceedings. 

I would just ask a couple of questions in follow up to your testi- 
mony. How credible and how concerned are you about reprisal, 
both personally and others who come forward to bring testimony 
against those who have committed atrocities? Are you — do you feel 
that the NGO presence, the international presence is necessary to 
prevent a backlash for your candor and for your courage in coming 
forward, again, both you and others who likewise are bearing wit- 
ness to what has happened there? 

Mr. Hernandez. I believe that as an indigenous people, since I 
was born, I was raised, because of the human relations in Mexico, 
the oppression and repression of indigenous people is something 
that is understated. 



40 

It is my responsibility and it is my choice to come forward to 
speak in behalf of my people. I am conscious of their repression, 
that my person, my family, or other peoples who will come forward 
to speak about this, but we have made the choice, and I think that 
the Zapatista reflects also that choice, that that was the last thing 
to do. 

I believe the native people don't commit violence lightly, that 
this — at this time, we have suffered enough, that the only path to 
follow for the Zapatistas was to take arms and that is — that has 
been my choice to come here and speak. 

Mr. Smith. Again, I salute you and Ms. Hernandez. 

Ms. Del Rosario Hkrnandkz. Within the Mayan population 
there are many people who would like to come forward and express 
their views, but they feel fear of reprisal. 

At the present time, the situation in Chiapas being what it is, 
it is not so easy for people to feel that they can come forward freely 
to testify about the most recent events. 

They fear that their family members will be the object of repris- 
als, so they just don't feel free to express themselves. 

I am here because I feel — or rather we are here because we feel 
that it is so necessary for someone to come and tell what we are 
living through in the state of Chiapas. I do not know what would 
happen to me if I go back to Mexico now after having testified here 
in the Congress. 

Mr. Smith. Let me just say that I know that the Clinton admin- 
istration and the Congress will be watching very, very carefully as 
to how you are treated personally and how others who come for- 
ward to bear witness again to these atrocities and to the pervasive 
and ongoing human rights abuses that have occurred, and I think 
we will speak, both Democrats and Republicans, with one voice, 
that if anyone injures or retaliates against you personally and, 
again, against others, we will speak out, and there will be an eco- 
nomic backlash in our relationship with Mexico, and I and I think 
others will make sure that those — there are concerns that are ex- 
pressed to the Salinas government and others that it is now a time 
of reconciliation, not retaliation, and I will do everything humanly 
possible to pursue that. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you, Mr. Smith. 

Before we conclude your testimony, let me leave you with a final 
question, if I could, and that is your level of confidence that these 
discussions with the Mexican Government can yield a sufficient re- 
sult, whether you believe this is a single incident or whether we 
are entering into a period where both in Chiapas and elsewhere 
there is a likelihood of conflict and continued insurrection. 

Mr. Hernandez. What I believe is that if the Mexican Govern- 
ment don't admit the evolution of the constitution, there is no pro- 
tection for traditional lands, ejidos lands. Therefore, people will be 
forced to ask the government to resolve this and — but there is no — 
there are so many land already taken away by the ranchers, and 
I don't think that ranchers will be willing to give back these lands, 
nor any other industry that has already invested in Mexico. 

I think that it will need a lot of pressure for this to happen and 
this these negotiations will come to a peaceful solution. 



41 

Ms. Del Rosario Hernandez. I think that what is happening 
now is all going to end up by improving the situation in Chiapas. 
I think that the Mexican Government has got to think that what 
it does now must be to the benefit of the entire country and for the 
good of all Mexicans. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you both. I hope that as the weeks pass, 
you will find opportunities to communicate with this subcommittee 
and share your insights, the progress that is made. I hope too that 
if members of the subcommittee visit Chiapas, we might have an 
opportunity to visit with you there and gain your insights as the 
situation develops. 

We thank you again for your cooperation. 

The subcommittee finally will hear from our last panel, Juan 
Mendez, Executive Director, Americas Watch; Carlos Salinas, Am- 
nesty International; Chris Woehr, the News Network International. 

Thank you very much for being with us today and for your, pa- 
tience in what I know has been a long afternoon. I think from 
watching the subcommittee thus far, you understand the thrust of 
most of our interests and how we would like to proceed. 

It is, of course, late, so we will ask you to get directly to the 
point, hopefully directly to the points you have heard us express in- 
terest in thus far. We will at this point in the record submit all — 
any written testimony you have submitted in its entirety. Consist- 
ent with the committee's rules, please attempt in under 5 minutes 
to share your thoughts with us and then we will proceed with ques- 
tions. Mr. Mendez. 

STATEMENT OF JUAN MENDEZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/AMERICAS WATCH 

Mr. Mendez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the 
invitation to testify. I am Juan Mendez and I am the general coun- 
sel of Human Rights Watch and simultaneously, for the time being, 
the executive director of our Americas Watch division. 

I appreciate your submitting our testimony to the record so I 
won't repeat many of the things that are already here, but I do 
want to make the point that we have sent a mission to Chiapas 
last month and we are sending another one next week. 

We are about to produce our report and a longer one probably 
later in the year, all of which we would like to submit to you all 
and other Members of Congress. 

We have heard today about the reasons for this. I would like to 
submit that for us, the proximate cause of this rebellion has not 
been so much the lack of clarity and elections in Chiapas, it has 
not been so much the fact that there is extreme poverty in Chiapas 
or not so much the fact that there is — there are many conflicts over 
land and natural resources. 

For us the proximate cause is a pervasive culture of human 
rights violations that has marked the PRI rule in Chiapas. Not 
only has the PRI continued to govern Chiapas as if the much-tout- 
ed modernization of Mexico didn't apply there, but it has managed 
to implicate national institutions in those policies as well. The 
Mexican Army has been deployed in Chiapas for several years on 
the pretext of securing the border and of conducting drug interdic- 
tion and crop eradication operations. 



42 

But in fact the Army has been used to intervene on the side of 
the caciques in disputes over land and natural resources. The 
caciques don't only deliver the vote; they actually own the vote and 
they own judges and they own prosecutors and, in fact, that is the 
reason why there was no justice nor real democracy there. The way 
that Chiapas has been governed is for us the most proximate rea- 
son for this human rights crisis that we have before us. 

We would like to point out that there has been two distinct mo- 
ments in the way that the national government responded to the 
crisis. In the first moment, until January 10, there were very seri- 
ous violations that have been discussed here. We also want to ac- 
knowledge that after January 10, the government of Mr. Salinas 
has done a remarkable about-face in the way it addressed the prob- 
lem, and we won't go into the details of that because the State De- 
partment representatives have mentioned them, but we do want to 
signify an important limitation on this second phase, hopeful as it 
sounds right now. 

On January 16, the Mexican Congress issued an amnesty law de- 
signed supposedly to persuade the rebels to put down their arms 
in exchange for nonprosecution. It hasn't had that effect yet, but 
we are also concerned that by its very broad terms, the amnesty 
law could be interpreted to allow serious crimes against defenseless 
persons perpetrated by rebels and by government agents alike to 
go unpunished. 

We are not as sanguine as Ambassador Watson has been here 
today about believing that the Mexican Government will inves- 
tigate, prosecute, and punish the abuses that we mention in our re- 
port. On the contrary, not only has there not been a public expres- 
sion from the government to that effect — and if they have made 
private representations to the American Government, that is very 
well — we will try to hold them to that promise — but in fact an in- 
fluential Senator in PRI has talked to the press recently and told 
them his interpretation of the amnesty law, and that is that once 
it goes into effect, it will cover all acts of violence by all sides until 
January 20. 

We feel that that will only crystallize the persistent impunity for 
human rights violations that we have found in many places in 
Mexico, but particularly in Chiapas. 

We agree with the administration, at least finally yesterday and 
today, Secretary Shattuck has publicly said in the name of the 
American Government that in fact there have been very serious 
human rights violations committed by government forces in 
Chiapas. 

Until yesterday at a hearing right in this House, and today, most 
spokespersons for the administration have denied or at least have 
avoided saying in the words of the United States that there have 
been those violations. 

The patterns of violations have been discussed, so I will skip 
over, but I do want to make a point to say that it is not enough 
in our view for the military prosecutor to announce that he will in- 
stitute an investigation. 

The past experience has not made us any more confident that 
impunity will be curbed. We think that the Mexican Government 
has to institute an impartial civilian investigation, investigation of 



43 

all the Army actions in Ocosingo and elsewhere, and to disclose the 
findings of that investigation to the public in a thorough manner 
as soon as possible. 

We also want to point out that we have found violations by the 
Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional. Like in other conflicts in 
other parts of the world, we hold rebels to the provisions of Com- 
mon Article III of the Geneva Conventions. 

We mentioned some of those in our testimony so in the honor of 
time, I will go forward with this, but we think that the amnesty 
is appropriate to cover the act against the State, the offense of re- 
bellion itself, and we hope that it will be applied in that manner 
so that peace can be reached. 

But we don't think it should be so broad as to cover acts against 
defenseless persons, whether committed by the security forces or by 
the rebels themselves. 

There has been a problem with access to human rights investiga- 
tions. It is true that a part of the about-face in the government pol- 
icy has been to allow a better presence of international and domes- 
tic NGO's and the press, but we have yet to receive information 
that we requested in writing from then Attorney General Carpizo 
on January 10, specifically about information about whether each 
death is being prosecuted, what are the charges against prisoners, 
how are the house searches being conducted, whether they satisfy 
legal requirements or not, and other information of that sort, in- 
cluding specific case information. 

We would hope — and we would ask, Mr. Chairman, and the 
members of your subcommittee, to intercede with the State Depart- 
ment and with the Mexican Government to see if we can get that 
information because we really need it to assess the situation of 
human rights in Mexico as it is today. 

You will hear from Amnesty International about how promises 
made about access to prisons particularly have not been completely 
honored. I think the most important thing, however, to bear in 
mind here is that the government initially engaged in what can 
only be called a cover-up of the killing in the Ocosingo marketplace. 
The PGR, which at that time was still under the leadership of 
Jorge Carpizo, issued on January 7 a press release that is nothing 
else but a cover-up trying to exculpate the army and pretending 
that these five combatants had n5t been killed off and that the 
guns used were not army issue. 

In fact, CNDH, with the help of international forensic specialists, 
have reversed that. Unfortunately, CNDH is making a big effort to 
try to say that there is no discrepancy between their findings and 
those of the original investigation. 

I want to finish basically with just a statement about U.S. policy. 
We believe that the United States, the Clinton administration has 
not been as forceful or forthcoming about human rights violations 
in the context of this conflict as should have been expected from 
the seriousness of the violations. 

We don't doubt that there have been important approaches of a 
quiet diplomacy kind, but we believe the seriousness of violations 
that we have heard today warranted a frank and honest and public 
expression of concern. 



44 

That is not, of course, inconsistent with considering the Mexican 
Government an ally and a friend. In fact, as I said a minute ago, 
for the first time yesterday and today, a high representative of tne 
Clinton administration has admitted that as of a matter of the gov- 
ernment's own investigations, there have been very serious abuses. 
Until then, there have been only evasions about this. 

We would like to recommend just basically three points and 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Mendez, you are substantially over on time. 
Go through the three points very quickly if you can. We have a 
vote on, and in deference to your colleagues, we want to hear from 
them. 

Mr. Mendez. We already requested your help in getting the 
Mexican Government to respond to our information, but there has 
been information about the illegal use, in violation of conditions, of 
aircraft leased by the United States to Mexico. We believe that the 
U.S. Government should tell the Mexican Government that if that 
violation is found, but especially if there is not a serious inquiry 
and sanctions and satisfaction of public opinion concerns about all 
violations committed by the Mexican Army, that the provisions of 
section 502(b) will put into effect — will be put into effect in the 
near future. 

And, finally, we would ask the State Department to speak out on 
the issue of accountability, forcefully demanding from the Mexican 
authorities a breaking of the cycle of impunity. 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Mendez appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. ToRRiCELLi. We are going to have to break here for a few 
minutes to vote. We will return very shortly and continue with Mr. 
Salinas's testimony. The subcommittee is adjourned temporarily. 

[Recess.] 

Mr. TORRICELLI. The subcommittee will please come to order. 

Mr. Salinas, if you will proceed. 

STATEMENT OF CARLOS M. SALINAS, GOVERNMENT PROGRAM 
OFFICER, LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN, AMNESTY 
INTERNATIONAL 

Mr. Salinas. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We really appreciate 
the opportunity to testify. 

As you are aware. Amnesty International sent a delegation to the 
State of Chiapas. We arrived in Chiapas on the January 18 and de- 
parted Chiapas on the 22nd. 

Before I begin the testimony, I would like to take this oppor- 
tunity to thank you for your efforts to ensure access of the Amnesty 
International delegation to the Cen'O Hueco penitentiary. I firmly 
believe that had it not been for your good offices, for your prompt 
and very significant interventions, chances are the Amnesty delega- 
tion would not have entered Cerro Hueco. 

I would also like to note that I believe that your intervention has 
also allowed access to forensic data and forensic observation by 
independent observers. We are very grateful for that. 

I would like to begin by saying that this is not a new problem 
in Chiapas: Human rights violations of the kind we documented in 
the last few weeks have been perpetrated by government agents 



45 

and local landowners in Chiapas for a long time. In fact, Amnesty 
International published a report in 1986 that specifically focused 
on Chiapas and the written testimony notes our documentation. 

But first and foremost, I want to make clear that the human 
rights violations and problems in Chiapas did not begin on January 
1 of this year but extend back much further than that. 

The delegation was able to visit three specific areas: the commu- 
nities of Morelia, the community of Chalam del Carmen, and the 
Cerro Hueco penitentiary. These were the three locations where we 
compiled testimony. 

In Morelia we found that on January 7 — that is, one day after 
the Presidential announcement calling on its security forces to re- 
spect human rights safeguards — a combined force of approximately 
400 soldiers arrived, rounded up all the men in the village, forced 
them to lie face down for most of the day, beat them and kicked 
them, ransacked the hospital, beat some of the women, and forced 
some of the women to lie face down on the ground. 

During this time, they tortured three men for about approxi- 
mately 5 hours. The men of the village heard their screams from 
7 in the morning until noon of that day. They were seen being led 
away around noon into a military ambulance. 

That was the last time they were seen. We believe they have 
been "disappeared." 

These three were also seen to have been badly beaten. One of 
them was bleeding profusely from the head. Witnesses indicated 
that he had been cut on the face and in the ears, and one of the 
men's hands hung limply as if his wrist or arm had been broken. 

In Chalam del Carmen we found that on January 13, approxi- 
mately 200 members of the Mexican Army arrived and here too 
they forced all the men out of their homes, beating down doors, ern- 
ploying a lot of force and proceeded to beat two of the men. This 
is one day after the cease-fire. And also in Morelia, we must indi- 
cate that there was no combat reported in that area at all. 

In Cerro Hueco penitentiary, we were able to interview the ap- 
proximately 70 remaining detainees who all have been denied any 
kind of due process. We understand that 38 — as many as 38 of the 
70 may have been released by now. The vast majority had been tor- 
tured at one point or the other by the Mexican Army. 

They had all been arbitrarily arrested. Many had been deprived 
of food and water for periods of up' to 48 hours, had been incommu- 
nicado and had been tortured and ill-treated. In fact, at the time 
the Amnesty International delegation visited Cerro Hueco peniten- 
tiary was one of the first times they were able to talk with outside 
independent observers. We understand that other delegations at- 
tempted to gain access to Cerro Hueco, but were denied access 
through one reason or another. 

I would like to comment also on the statements that we heard 
from both the congressional end and also the State Department 
end. We must make very clear that good intentions do not amount 
to good actions. There has been a long history of sweeping human 
rights reforms in Mexico. They all seem to respond to some kind 
of international embarrassment and they all lack true political will. 
In 1985, an earthquake shook Mexico and bodies that had been 
tortured were found in official government buildings which led to 



46 

a national outcry which eventually resulted in the 1986 Law to 
Prevent and Punish Torture. Incidentally, to the best of our knowl- 
edge, not one official in Mexico has ever been indicted under this 
1986 law despite the fact it had been strengthened through 1992 
reforms. 

In 1990, the nationally and internationally well-known human 
rights la>vyer, Norma Corona Sapien was murdered, after having 
received frequent death threats and despite having denounced 
these threats. In part responding to that. President Salinas formed 
the National Commission for Human Rights. 

As Secretary Shattuck pointed out, the Commission issues rec- 
ommendations, but we must make clear that that is all the Com- 
mission can do. It can investigate and issue recommendations, but 
what happens with the recommendations is indeed another matter. 

We were surprised by Secretary Shattuck's statement that he 
had evidence that 45 members of the Mexican police had actually 
been indicted for periods of up to 5 years, specifically for human 
rights crimes. 

We would like to see such evidence. We would like to see under 
what laws these people were prosecuted, who they were, what 
cases of human rights violations they refer to, et cetera. 

Since the creation of the Commission, Amnesty International and 
several other human rights organizations, including Americas 
Watch, have been repeatedly requesting specifics on prosecutions 
from the Mexican Government and so far none that is satisfactory 
has been forthcoming. 

I would like to point out that there are threats to at least 10 
known human rights defenders, monitors, lawyers, as well as death 
threats aimed at the Archbishop, Samuel Ruiz. We are very con- 
cerned about that, as well as threats aimed at least 12 villagers of 
Morelia. 

I would also like to echo Mr. Mendez's concerns about the am- 
nesty law. While we have no specific details on how the govern- 
ment intends to implement said amnesty law, we certainly hope 
that this law is not used to prevent effective prosecution of human 
rights violators. 

Mr. Chairman, I have taken the liberty of handing you some pic- 
tures that I would like to make specific reference to. We believe 
that these represent fairly strong indication — we wouldn't say proof 
because we are not a jury, we are not a court — but very conclusive 
evidence that the Ocosingo Five, as they have come to be known, 
were extrajudicially executed by the Mexican Army. I refer to these 
pictures here of the bodies found lying on the marketplace in 
Ocosingo. 

This picture is particularly significant as it shows cuts on the 
wrists. These should be under Exhibit A. 

Under Exhibit B, you will find pictures of a detainee in Cerro 
Hueco Prison. He had also been picked up in Ocosingo, and clearly 
visible are the scarring tissue where he was bound in the same 
form that the Ocosingo Five were found. In fact, the testimonies of 
those at Cerro Hueco and others that had come out from Cerro 
Hueco all indicated that they had been bound in the same form. 

Also, please notice that they are lying face down and also notice 
that they are without any shoes. The part of the shoes is signifi- 



47 

cant as many of the Cerro Hueco detainees also indicated that one 
of the first actions the Mexican Army had done upon their appre- 
hension was to remove their shoes. 

And, finally, coupled with the circumstantial evidence are the 
findings of independent forensic experts which indicate an 
extrajudicial execution. These findings indicate a single weapon of 
a 9-millimeter caliber; and apparently, 9-millimeter caliber has re- 
cently been introduced in the officer corps of the Mexican Army. 

These pictures I show to you because we believe that these peo- 
ple were extrajudicially executed by the Mexican Army. 

The other pictures that I have given you show the evidence of the 
ransacking of the hospital of Morelia; and finally, to underscore the 
need for a truly impartial and effective investigation, I have shown 
you pictures of a burnt-out truck that is outside of the city of 
Altamirano. This truck contained calcinated human remains. 

The official version of events was that those calcinated remains 
were those of agents of the state. We found it odd though that after 
weeks their remains would still be left on the side of the road de- 
spite heavy military presence and that their remains wouldn't have 
been turned over to loved ones. 

Other reports indicated that they were remains of people that 
had been disappeared by the Mexican Army. This underscores the 
need for an effective investigation to really come up with a full pic- 
ture of what, in fact, did happen in Chiapas following the armed 
uprising by the Zapatista army. 

We must also express concern about the fact that at no time did 
we find any indication of any Zapatista combatant prisoners or 
wounded despite our inquiries into the whereabouts of any pris- 
oners or wounded. We find it odd that in a confrontation there 
would be no prisoners caught in combat or wounded. 

And, finally, we also did not find any evidence of extrajudicial 
executions, use of torture or other forms of similar treatment by 
the Zapatista army. Unfortunately, we found a plethora of evidence 
indicating the involvement of the Mexican Army in such actions. 

Thank you very much. 

Mr. TORRICKLLI. Thank you, Mr. Salinas. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Salinas appears in the appen- 
dix.] 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Ms. Woehr. 

STATEMENT OF CHRIS L. WOEHR, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, NEWS 

NETWORK INTERNATIONAL 

Ms. Woehr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I represent a news agen- 
cy that monitors exclusively religious liberty issues worldwide. Last 
year we monitored problems in over 66 countries and filed nearly 
400 reports concerning these types of issues. 

My presence here today is strictly as a witness. I don't want to 
say that I am an advocate because I am not; I am strictly a jour- 
nalist that has been following problems in Mexico since 1983. 

I would concur with everything that the previous two witnesses 
have said, but I would simply add that there is another aspect to 
the problem in Mexico which has not been addressed fully nor even 
partially today which needs to be addressed because it is a valid 
issue. 



48 

It is no surprise to me personally that the uprising occurred. 
From the days that I used to travel around the border area in 
southern Mexico, I was aware that there was insurgency activity. 
Also the fact that the problems in southern Mexico, particularly in 
Chiapas, with regard to human rights are so extreme, I am really 
quite surprised that this uprising did not occur sooner. 

Essentially, all of it boils down to this. There is a complete lack 
of political will among the government in Chiapas to enforce the 
law. In my opinion, Mexico has all the human rights mechanisms 
necessary to maintain human rights, but it lacks the will to enforce 
it. In my opinion, the best-kept secret in southern Mexico and in 
Mexico entirely today is the fact that religiously motivated persecu- 
tion continues unabated without any clear effort to try to stop it. 

There have been some intentions. There have been hearings, and 
covenants have been signed, particularly in San Cristobal de las 
Casas with regard to the Chamula Indians, but these have not 
been enforced in any way, shape or form except for one community 
about 30 miles outside of San Cristobal. There, individuals who 
were forcibly expelled from their community were allowed to return 
and they were compensated for their losses. 

When we talk about individuals being removed from their homes, 
I think that is rather a very shallow way of describing what actu- 
ally happens. Essentially, for the past 30 years, individuals who 
have chosen to change their faith to something other than Catholi- 
cism have been exposed to illegal arrests, they have been harassed 
on a daily basis, they have been banned from expressing their faith 
completely, the ability to sing gospel music, and to listen to gospel 
music, to invite evangelists to come and preach to their congrega- 
tions. 

There have been cases of assault and battery and even homicide. 
I would refer to the case of the murder of Melecio Gomez in 1992 
in which the prosecutor refused to open an investigation; and it 
wasn't until 2 weeks later that another prosecutor was appointed. 
By then, all of the suspects, pointed out by eye witnesses, had plen- 
ty of time to flee. 

Essentially, in the southern Mexico highlands, there is a schizo- 
phrenic view of the law. The Caciques, or the municipal leaders, 
view traditional law as far more important than constitutional law. 
Therefore, it is very, very difficult to call on the authorities to en- 
force constitutional law because they say that traditional law 
reigns in the indigenous areas. Therefore, if you are an individual 
that wants to express your faith in a certain way, and individuals 
come against you because of that, the government simply washes 
its hands of the matter. 

This year, there have been 54 complaints brought before the 
state government, and not a single one of them have been heard 
or acted upon. In September, and in December, evangelicals met 
with President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and nothing came of 
those meetings except talk. That is why I feel rather pessimistic 
about the optimism of the U.S. Government witnesses who were 
here previous to me saying that due process will be applied and 
that human rights will be upheld. 

I feel rather pessimistic about that because I don't see any pre- 
vious evidence of or precedent in which this has happened; and the 



49 

only thing that I think at this point gives some hope is this, and 
that is that the new appointment of the interim governor of 
Chiapas, as well as secretary of state for Chiapas, are both individ- 
uals who are greatly respected. There are high hopes that these 
men will try to resolve these problems, and that over 20,000 indi- 
viduals who have been evicted from their homes will be allowed to 
return. 

When we talk about forced evictions, it is important to recognize 
that these are violent acts of terrorism which are allowed to go 
unpunished. We are talking about loss of homelands, about losing 
contact with their land, their animals, their personal property; in 
many cases, their homes have been burned down. They have noth- 
ing to go back to, and so there needs to be reparation. 

Right now, there are about 1,000 homeless individuals who are 
in the San Cristobal area awaiting government response. My 
sources indicate that if there is no response in this 10-month period 
before the next regularly scheduled elections, Protestant leaders 
say that they are going to lose control over the evangelical popu- 
lation. Such is the frustration of the indigenous church, that if 
their needs are not addressed there is a possibility that the 
Zapatistas will win them over to their cause. 

In this 10-month window, there is an opportunity to regain the 
trust particularly of the Protestants of Chiapas. In the case that 
their issues are not addressed, there is a chance that they will 
leave the sidelines and join the armed revolt, and I would also say 
that from personal experience, the problems of Chiapas could be re- 
peated in Puebla state, just as in Oaxaca, and Hidalgo states. 
There is quite a lot of dissension there. The evangelical Protestant 
population of Chiapas is one of the largest in Mexico and could rep- 
resent as much as 50 percent of the population in Chiapas state. 
That is a significant statistic. In your opening comments, you men- 
tioned that there have been three arbitrary arrests — I hope I didn't 
misunderstand you — for the year in 1993 in Chiapas. In actual fact, 
there have been dozens and dozens and dozens of arbitrary arrests 
of individuals who have been beaten and evicted from their homes 
all without any intervention by the state government. 

Thank you for the opportunity to present an aspect of the prob- 
lems which have led to the recent turmoil in Chiapas. I think that 
problems facing evangelicals there are important issues to be con- 
sidered. 

[The prepared statement of Ms. Woehr appears in the appendix.] 

Mr. Smith. Thank you very much. 1 want to thank our three wit- 
nesses for your expert testimony. It is very, very helpful to this 
subcommittee as we look at this issue. 

Mr. Salinas, did you mentioned a request for Mr. Shattuck's doc- 
umentation as to how many convictions have been made? 

Mr. Salinas. Yes, convictions that are specifically human rights 
related; not convictions on corruption or abuse of authority or the 
many other types of convictions that the Public Ministry obtains. 

Mr. Smith. I would ask that the subcommittee request that infor- 
mation from Mr. Shattuck's office and make that a part of the 
record. 

Mr. TORRlCKi.Li. It will be in the record at this point. 

[The information appears in the appendix.! 



50 

Mr. Smith. In terms of the investigations, I sense that you do not 
have much confidence that due process rights are being respected. 
Do you think it is possible that the government would consider re- 
questing that group like Interpol to investigate, just as Nicaragua 
invited them after that cache explosion in Santa Rosa? Would that 
be helpful? 

Is it a lack of experience and expertise in terms of investigators 
that is the problem? Or once evidence is brought to light, are the 
necessary follow-up actions not taken in order to get convictions? 

Mr. Salinas. Our experience has been that there is not a prob- 
lem with the investigations. It is always with the follow-up. The 
CNDH has the capacity and ability to carry out effective investiga- 
tions. It is only when we get into other interests intervening that 
we encounter any problem whatsoever, particularly in Chiapas as 
well as the rest of Mexico. 

The main problem is impunity. The CNDH can carry out a first 
class investigation. They have to be sure it is impartial, verifiable, 
and not behind closed doors. But in the end there has to be some 
kind of follow through so that it is not left up in the air and that 
those who are criminally responsible are indeed prosecuted. 

Mr. Mknendkz. I agree with what my colleague has said. The 
problem is not lack of expertise on investigations. Mexico has many 
very good jurists and investigators. Also it would not help, I don't 
think, to try to inject an international dimension to what is really 
a state responsibility. 

It is the Mexican state that has to live up to its obligations under 
international and domestic law. 

The problem of immunity is not the lack of expertise to inves- 
tigate. The problem of immunity is the lack of political will to fol- 
low through with those investigations. 

CNDH has followed through with many investigations. The real 
problem has been the lack of follow through. That is the respon- 
sibility of the state. 

Mr. Smith. Ms. Woehr, what publicity does the government issue 
at various levels with regard to religious persecution? Who is actu- 
ally evicting these people because of their conversions or changes 
in faith? 

Ms. Woehr. It is not the people, the villagers themselves. In fact, 
they have indicated overwhelmingly they are against the expul- 
sions because it is very upsetting to the community. It is the mu- 
nicipal indigenous leaders who are 100 percent responsible for 
these convictions and they act with complete impunity. 

Mr. Smith. Do the municipal leaders use the change of religious 
belief as a pretense to obtain their properties or is it motivated by 
a religious tenet? 

Ms. Woehr. I think that is it. It is a wonderful way for them to 
take over more land. They hide it and cloak it in cultural problems 
and say since they are no longer practicing, they become an anath- 
ema to their culture. 

In fact, the Protestants have agreed to participate in festivals 
and certain things. They balk at purchasing icons from the local 
Roman Catholic Church or participating in mass drunkenness. 
However, beyond that they have no problem in participating in 



51 

community projects, building roads and things like that, so essen- 
tially this is a pretext for taking over their properties. 

The changing of religion has not proven to be disruptive to the 
community. In the highlands of Chiapas there are entire commu- 
nities that have become Protestant. In those communities there is 
complete peace. 

Mr. Smith. Earlier Ms. Woehr indicated that she felt the violence 
could spread to other areas and a few were named by Mr. Mendez 
and Mr. Salinas. Do you agree that we have just seen the begin- 
ning of something here? 

Mr. Salinas. I am not sure jf it is the beginning or the continu- 
ation. The conflicts between the state or state supporters and indig- 
enous peasants over land is one that is not restricted to Chiapas, 
but spread throughout Mexico especially where there are indige- 
nous communities. In Oaxaca there is a long history of indigenous 
peasants trying to put their demands to the local municipal au- 
thorities and having these authorities respond with violence. 

As far as will this spread, unfortunately the problem is every- 
where else. It is really up to the government to tackle this conflict 
with transparency, ensuring there is no impunity so people can 
have some kind of faith in the authorities. 

We believe that impunity among other causes is one of the prin- 
cipal factors that lead to this rebellion. When people get pushed too 
far, they react. 

Mr. Mendez. We believe that the conditions that exist in 
Chiapas exist in Mexico, too, perhaps not everywhere. They exist 
in Oaxaca certainly and in a region called Huasteca in Vera Cruz 
and Hidalgo. It is hard to predict that something like that will. hap- 
pen. 

As I say in my written testimony, Chiapas is not an aberration. 
The way Chiapas has been governed which is, as we say, the proxi- 
mate cause of this rebellion, is not an aberration. The Chiapas PRI 
is not different from the general PRI. It is also true and it is fair 
to say that the failures of PRI governance in Mexico are most ex- 
treme in Chiapas than anywhere else. So I think that is a very 
good reason why this rebellion erupted in Chiapas. 

I think it will depend on the attitude of the central government 
especially that the reaction to this and the possibilities of achieving 
a lasting peace are not simply absence of war. That will have, I 
think, the most important bearing on whether these things will 
happen elsewhere or not. 

Mr. Smith. How would you characterize the basis for EZLN? Is 
it strong among the indigenous peoples, even if they disagree with 
the means perhaps? Is there a sense that it is correct? Are they op- 
timistic? 

Mr. Mendez. According to our mission it seems to have struck 
a sympathetic chord. First of all, it is not our job as human rights 
organizations to try to ascertain the popularity of an insurgent 
group, so we don't particularly look at it. 

The capacity to operate, that the EZLN demonstrated, can onlv 
be explained if there has been at least an ability to strike a chord. 
We will also have to see. It depends also on the next few weeks 
whether people, the people will also be looking at the attitudes not 
only of the government, but also of the EZLN and the popularity 



52 

and these kind of things is sometimes fleeting. It is very difficult 
to ascertain from this perspective right now. 

Mr. Salinas. One thing that I was able to witness was that a lot 
of groups — nongovernmental cooperative groups and indigenous 
peasant groups — made it clear they did not agree with the 
Zapatista methods; that is, violence and armed struggle. 

However, they would also in the same breath make clear they 
agreed that the basic problems that the Zapatistas were calling at- 
tention to were the problems of impunity, the problem with land, 
the problem of access to health care, et cetera. 

Ms. WoEHR. I would agree. I would add one point and that is 
that the indigenous population is incredibly long suffering. The evi- 
dence of this is the fact that today in the Indian Affairs Office in 
San Cristobal there have been several hundred Protestants who 
have been sitting there since September waiting for their issues to 
be heard at the very least. 

When the Zapatistas went to the Indian Affairs Office on Janu- 
ary 1 and encouraged them to join their struggle saying why are 
you so patient, they simply responded, "we want to exhaust every 
political or every judicial means before we go that route," and they 
are still there. They have not joined. They are going to wait and 
see what happens in this interim period. That is why this is an in- 
credibly crucial time. 

Mr. Smith. I sense, Mr. Mendez, that you were not in favor of 
the amnesty. I have asked for a definition of the amnesty but per- 
haps no one except for the Government of Mexico itself, knows ex- 
actly what that means. 

What should we be conveying to the Mexicans in terms of an am- 
nesty? Assuming that some type of amnesty would be in place, how 
do we separate out those who have committed abuses, and make 
sure that, as you noted in your testimony, we don't sweep abuses 
under the rug. 

Mr. Mendez. Americas Watch does support amnesty for the pur- 
poses of seeking reconciliation and ending the conflict. We believe 
that the proper amnesty that can achieve that goal is an amnesty 
for the crimes committed against the state; that is, basically the 
crime which is an offense, of course, of rebellion or sedition, but not 
for crimes committed against individuals. 

We have taken this position in many different contexts, as in El 
Salvador and Nicaragua. Unfortunately, we have seen that sweep- 
ing amnesties have the effect of leaving wounds open even after a 
so-called peace has been achieved. We think not only for practical 
reasons, but also ethical and even legal grounds, an amnesty that 
would have the effect of condoning or immunizing from prosecution, 
crimes that can be categorized as crimes against humanity, such as 
extrajudicial execution or disappearances or massive cases of tor- 
ture or grave breaches of the laws of war like aerial bombardments 
and killing of surrendered soldiers; an amnesty that would have 
that effect would be a violation of an emerging principle in inter- 
national law that states have an affirmative obligation to inves- 
tigate, prosecute and punish such grave abuses. 

Mr. Saunas. I believe that one of the most effective things the 
U.S. Government can do with regards to the amnesty law is to pub- 
licly express concern that it not be implemented to prevent the 



53 

prosecution of human rights violators. A public statement making 
it very clear that it is the position of the U.S. Government not to 
condone giving the de facto impunity that has existed in Mexico all 
these years the official seal of approval of an amnesty law. 

Mr. Smith. Let me conclude by saying thank you for your fine 
testimony. 

Ms. Woehr, I want to publicly thank you for making me aware 
of what was going on in Chiapas and bringing many of those cases 
of religious persecution to my attention and we have followed up, 
as you well know, with a number of government officials. 

Unfortunately, we have not had success, but it was because of 
your advocacy and I appreciate that. 

Ms. Woehr. I would just say that I disagree. It has been success- 
ful in the sense that it has brought to their attention that this is 
an issue that is not going to go away. 

What has been very, very important about the actions that you 
have taken have been to intei-nationalize the issue and raise its 
profile. It has been extremely useful. 

Mr. TORKICELLI. Before we adjourn, Mr. Salinas, are you getting 
full access to each of the jails? 

Mr. Salinas. It was after your intervention that we were able to 
enter. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. I was not looking for a compliment. I just want- 
ed to know. Is it not open? 

Mr. Salinas. There have been some reported irregularities, but 
certainly the access is much broader than it was before. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Is a list issued of all those who are being, de- 
tained? 

Mr. Salinas. Not to our knowledge. There is a question of are 
there any detained Zapatistas captured during combat and there is 
no knowledge of that. 

Mr. Mendez. The CNDH has published a list of people who have 
been submitted to the couils. Unfortunately, it only gives names. 
It doesn't say on what grounds or what charges. It doesn't say on 
what evidence. That is the kind of information we are seeking and 
that we would like to enlist your help on. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Salinas, I want to be sure I understand you 
properly. You made a comment abput the numbers of wounded. 

Mr. Salinas. Exactly. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Mexico is not holding any wounded? 

Mr. Salinas. We requested and did not receive any information 
or any list of any Zapatista wounded anywhere. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. I will ask subcommittee staff to contact the 
Mexican Embassy tomorrow and ask for a list of those detained as 
having been a part of the uprising and a list of all those wounded. 
It would be an extraordinary conclusion of this if as a result of all 
this fighting there were no wounded apprehended. 

Mr. Salinas. Mr. Chairman, on the list of those detained, if you 
would specify that it include those detained in addition to those de- 
tained in Cerro Hueco. From what we were able to gather, those 
in Cerro Hueco had not participated in any kind of combat whatso- 
ever. 



54 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Is it your interpretation of the Mexican Govern- 
ment's discussion of amnesty that it would include those who com- 
mitted the military executions? 

Mr. Mendez. Yes, that is right. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. I had the assumption that that was outside of 
what they were proposing. 

Mr. Mendez. This terms of the text of the law are vague enough 
that it might be interpreted that way. What I am concerned about 
is that just in the last couple of days in interviews with foreign 
press, PRI senators, particularly Senator Miguel Aleman, has said 
that once the amnesty goes into effect — and we have to be re- 
minded that it doesn't go into effect until the Zapatistas start sur- 
rendering weapons — once it goes into effect it covers all acts of vio- 
lence committed by every side. That would be a violation. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. Have there be any arrests to the date of any 
Mexican military officers concerning any of these abuses? 

Mr. Mendez. The government has produced many press releases 
on these things. 

Mr. TORRICELLI. But there have been no arrests? 

Mr. Mendez. The most they have said is that the military pros- 
ecutor is investigating them and there have been some autopsies, 
but no indictments and no arrests that I know of 

Mr. TORRICELLL Let me urge you to continue communicating 
with the subcommittee and giving us information as you receive it 
on those incarcerated if you have continued problems with access 
to jails that we might work together. 

Thank you each for being with us today. 

This hearing is adjourned. 

[Whereupon, at 6:05 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.] 



APPEND IX 



OPENINO STATEMZNT 

RZP. ROBERT O. TORRICZLLI 

CHAIRKAN, SUBCOKXITTBE ON ITEBTZRH HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS 

HEARXMO ON THE CHIAPAS aPRISINO 

FEBRUARY 2, 19 94 

The violence that erupted in Chiapas, Mexico, on New Ydar'i 
Day has raised savc-rai pressing q^^estions about United states 
policy Cowards Mexico, and about the treatment of indigenous 
peoples by the Mexicim governnent. We intend today to answer sone 
of those questions. 

Events in Mexico and Canada have always been important to the 
United states. But with the signing of the North American Free 
Trade Agreement, these events now take on special meaning. 

Obviously, Mexico is still a sovereign nation with the right 
tc attend to its own internal matters. But when the United States, 
Mexico and Canada signed NAFTA, we entered into an economic union. 
That union not only crives us the right, but the responsibility , to 
insist that denocratic processes are followed, that human rights 
are respected, and that political and econoicic stability is 
maintained in Mexico. 

If the uprising in Chiapas la a precursor to a long period of 
instability, then -.hat will have an impact on our econony. 
Air.erican businesses need to know about it, and the United States 
governnent must do soniBt.hing about it. Indeed, we must demand 
whatever political, economic and judicial reforms are necessary to 
ensure that American business investments are safe and that the 
rights of .lexican laoorers and indigenous peoples are protected. 

Unfoztunately, there is still a great deal about the rebellion 
in Chiapas that we do not know. What we do know is that a group of 
about 2,000 armed rebels calling itself the Zapatista Army of 
National Liberation declared war on the government of Carlos 
Salinas de Gortari. The guerilla group sa; .-. its aim is to redress 
h'jman rights abuses, discrinination and lack of opportunity for 
indigenous peoples, who constitute 30 percent of Mexico's 
population. Its i.'-.itial attack was timed to coincide with Mexico's 
otficial entry into NAFTA, which the Zapatistas called a death 
sentence for Indians. 

We also know that Chiapas :s astonishingly poor. Only 67t of 
the households in Chiapas have electricity. Only 41% have access 
to sewers, anti only '8% have access to running water. Chiapas also 
ranks last among Mexican states m several educational statistics, 
including the number of children under 14 who attend school — 711 
-- and the nuiT-.oer ot people over 1< who can read -- 70t. 

(55) 



56 



Ve Icnow that Chiapas has a disnal history of human rights 
abuse, and that in 1993 alone there wore at least throa docusi«nt«d 
cases of arbitrary arrests and tortures in Indian villagss in 
Chiapas. And wc knew that not only has recent sconomic expansion 
in Mexico net filtered through to the indigenous population, but 
that NAFTA promiBeB even more economic harm. 

The central questions that we will be asking today are how bad 
are the conditions in Mexico for the Indian population, how 
widespread is the unrest, and what is the United States government 
prepared to do to encourage Mexico to remedy those conditions. 
We will be asking those questions to two representatives from the 
Clinton Adninistration, two residents of Chiapas, Mexico, and a 
panel of human rights investigators. We are also pleased to hear 
testimony froit our c:olleague. Representative Joseph Kennedy, who 
travelled to Chiapas last month. 

Unfortunately, the worst fears of many of us in Congress who 
opposed NAFTA were cc>nfirmed by the Chiapas rebellion. I argued at 
the time that there is an important difference between seeking 
opportunity for oursalves and taking advantage of the exploitation 
of others. It certainly appears that the indigenous peoples of 
southern Mexico are being exploited, and that the promises 
associated with NAFTA do not apply to them. 

It is particularly troubling to learn that this rebellion was 
brewing for several years, and that gross human rights violations 
acamst indigenous paoples in southern Mexico hP.ve been occurring 
for quite sone time. We will be asking the Clinton Administration 
if it knew the extent of the hu,-na.T rights abuses that have been 
occurring in southern Mexico. And, assuming that it did, we will 
ask why the Administration did not place more pressure on the 
Saii.-ias goverament to address this situation during negotiation of 
the NAFTA side agreejients. 

We will also as< whether the Administration intends to carry 
out its com.-nitnent to use NAFTA as leverage to demand human rights 
reforns in Mexico. Aitinesty International and America's Watch, both 
of whom we will hear from today, recently sent teams to Chiapas to 
investigate human rights abuses. Both will report that serious 
violations of human rights did occur in the days immediately 
fcilowing the uprising. Indeed, there are now confirmed reports 
that entire villages were rounded up, beaten and tortured. 

While gross v.olations of human rights appear to. have 
subsided, investigators continue to experience frustration gaining 
access to prisons and to autopsy reports and forensic information. 
The Mexican govern.-ntmt must provide international investigators 
tuli access to such information. It also must commit fully to 
prosecuti.-.g those who are found guilty of human rights violations. 



57 



It i« imoortant to not* that ao far, th« Salinas gov«rnnent 
has said the " right things. It has indicated a willingness to 
negotiate with the rebels and to address the poor economic 
conditions of the indigenous population. It has also announced a 
series of electoral reforms. 

But we must denand nore than words. The congressional debate 
on .VAFTA may have concluded, but the Anierican public remains 
divided. All Americans must come to believe that NAFTA is not only 
in their beat interest, but in the best interest of the Mexican 
people and the Canadian people. NAFTA contains an escape clause 
that preserves the right of any country to drop out of the 
agrearaent after a six-month notification. The Mexican government 
must realize that escape clause could be utilized if human rights 
abuses continue and if economic grievances are ignored. 

The .Mexican government has a choice. It can either take the 
events in Chiapas as a warning and as an impetus to improve 
conditions for the Indian population and foster political, 
judicial and econo.Tic reform; or, it can continue to be insensitive 
to the plight, of Indian peoples and use force and oppression 
against the.T.. This Administration, this Congress, and the American 
people can do a greet deal to ensure that Kexico ff.akes the right 
choice. 



58 



PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENATIVE JOSEPH P. KENNEDY li 

before the 

Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs 

U.S. House of RqjresenUtivcs 

WashiQgton, D.C. 

February 2, 1994 

In mid-Januarv', at a remote refugee camp in Southern Mexico, an iadiyenous Indian fanner 
whose family ckcs out a hard living growing com in the isolated highlands told me the stor\' of 
how h^ was driven horn his home. The army swepl ihrou^ hib villdgc -- a village tluii the U.S. 
Embassy said was rot involv<xi m the recent upn.«!ing. They ransacked his simple home, stealing 
money and other preciom family belongings Soldiers beat him, lca\nng raised welts on his face 
ar^ shoulders and then disappeared, moving on to the nevr community 

In the bmaJl lown of .\llaniirano -- the site of a pitched battle between the Mexican anny 
and rebels •- I x'isit.-d a hospital and saw a maik of pain on the laces of two youn;; yiili. Tbcy 
were not hurt in the fighting, I was told. In a land rich m agncoluue, they were siiffering from 
hunger, mankind's oldest enemy. 

The New ^'&ar's Day revolt in Chiapas. Mexico's poorest state, put the worla on notice 
tJiai tlie drive to lift a developing economy inro the ranks of ihc world's indusuial powers cannot 
tome at the continuing expense of human and democratic rights and gaping social inequahty. 

In the wak': of the Lisurgcncy by thousands of guerrillas of the Zapaliila Niilional 
Liberation Arm}', wc cannot fail to see what tiic Mexican people themselves hjve recognized - 
thai real econorrjc rcforrr, ii not possible without redeeming the promise of the 1910 revolution 
that gave hope to the poor ind dispossessed of Mexico. 

The tu-damcnial lack of democracy and justice in Mexico, not only fur the 1.2 million 
Mayan Indjans of Chiapas, but for the country as a whole, lies at the heart of '.he revolution and 
forms the central challenge to the govcmmcn: as it takes up the reforms promised under the 
Ny\FTA agreement 

If millions of Mexicans are excluded from the benefil:) of economic growth, f<icLDg a. 
political sj'slein that is cfte-; unresponsive to legitimate demands. courL>; that cannot redress their 
(jievances, .ind rrJliiary an.i police forces that threaten rather than protect their basic human 
right";, tl.en the fnundahon'; of prosperity and stability will never be secure. 

Duiiag a Nisit to the country in Januaiy to explore trade opporturJUes for Day State 
i-nv.iruamem.ll ilnti> >tnd ln'ir the tiuohleil Chiapii'? region, I was struck by tlie Two Me\ic«">5 I 
r.aw. There was the MexJc > of wealth and scpliistication, of gleaming olKce suites and thriving 
buiincsb activity. Then t:i;ri vnco the Mc.xin;' of puvcity and SLoigglc, a TTlifd World eaclave 
separated by langjagc and :ulturc from the powerful landowners and industrialists who rule the 
nanon. 

In .«ome ways, it rerninded me of my own Congressional district, where some of the 
'argcsT banks and insurance compames do business m sight of our city's poorest citizens but 
never v^iih them iTiis cha-m is defined by racial as well as euontimic facliirs. 



59 



To their credit, Mexican President Salinas and Jorge Madrazo, chairman of the National 
Human Rights Commission, openly acknowledged the need to move swiftly to address the 
glaring inequaHties in Mexican society'. 

1 believe there are two major areos of refonn dial mast take place. 

First and forcuiost is human rights. Along with other groups, the Minnesota Advocates 
for Huuion Rights has high'ighted arbitrary seaiches, detentions, interrogations and torture of 
indigenous people by ihe military and police -- a record of intimidation that predates the recent 
upri.iing and stretches buck for years. 

Last March, for example, after the disappearance of Uvo soldiers, some 400 soldier.s and 
police dctamed, searched atd beat civilians in two indlan villages in Chiapa.^ torturing a number 
of people ill detention At ihe end of April the ai'ray returned, again looting homes, intcrrogaiing 
and (ormring MlJaj^ers. Wii^in the police raided the same village in May they found it deserted. 

Meanwhile. Mexico'i National Human Rights C'ommission has all too often been 
iiiefTeclivc and in some case" may have stonewalled investigations, serving to cover up rather 
than uiiLuver official abuses 

'ITie commission can receive complaints from any group or individual but is prohibited 
fiom investigating labor or j'olitical disputes or judiciiU conduct. It can make reconunendationa 
to state governors but has rn .stattitory power to enforce those recommendations or carry out 
p.-osccuticins. The cnitimissiDn has a reputation for being aggressive in siniations where the 
govenitnent ha.': iai:en a political decision lo be fum, but cmtious in mvcstigatiiig cases thai 
ir.\'olvc abuses by the army or that may be embarrassing to the i\iling Instit.iidonal Revolutionary' 
Party (PRJ). 

Under these circumsvinces it is difficult to sec how the process can work with the fidl 
ccnfidi-nce cf the Mexican people. 

Secondly, the proce^i of democrati/ation must bo atccleraied. The people of Chiapas 
ubMously fei:l that generations of one-party rtila does not work Thousands have been invoived 
;n peasant uruons and other civic associations organized to press peaceably for defense of their 
cultuie ajid mean^ of hvelihood. But for the struggling Indians in particular, the ballot box as a 
velucle of change bis been a dead-end street. 

The Zapatisti Nanoria. Liberation Army made this clear in its conrmiuniquc reIeiL>ed the 
da;,' cf the revol;: "The serio iS xtajc of poverty shared by our compatriots has a common cause; 
lai.k 01 liberrv a.id democrat) We consider genuine respcvt for liherly and the democratic will 
ij( the pe.'^ple 10 be ;n<iispeiiSi.blc for the improxemerit of economic and social coaditioui." 

Tlic .Salina.s government spent over $50 million in Chiapas for economic reform that 
e5^f:'lt^aily benefited vseollhy ranchers and paily rcgtilars -- concrete proof of the need for 

sysreiuatic reform. 

Last week. President Salinas took an important step in this direction, when the 
^ovcrnmcm and eight politick parties signed an accord for sweeping electoral reforms, which 
All. be tcsied in ih-i -.iiLfoIding campaigns for the: August 21 si national elections, 'fhc Janu-iry 
2"ti .-lecord rccojmi2es that thr ae.xt elections in.ist be seen to be free and fair by ihe .Mexicim 
"r^^ple -- pTi nariei \-.hu vs'r.s - or the country will face ct^ntimiing unrest 



60 



Terrorized and tortur^'d Indians, starving people in a land rich with agricullure, the lack 
of judicial righta. the inability of peasants to own land, the illegal expropriation of propertj- •■ 
these aie sj'mptoms of a greater shortcoming: the absence of democracy's protective barrier that 
defends the people from the powers of the state and local elites. 

In the short term the Mexican goNemment can throw money at the problem but over time 
nothing tan stop the need for real democratic reform. 

I went to Mexico as a friend, someone who has travelled there many limes over the last 
20 years. I have been a slrving advocate of debt reform, I have worked with PEMEX in 
importing crude oil to the U.S. and ha\e continued to have tremendous respect for Mexican 
autonomy and sclf-dctcrmirution. 

Those who would csll for China-like scinciions I believe miss the point- 
Mexico is our frieiid Its people are conuTUttcd to democracy. The United States has 
\cr>' prcs.smg interests -- morally, politically and economically -- in maintaining a close 
parmcrship wi Ji Mexico auJ in the success of efforts to heal its society's wounds and pursue a 
path of equitable development. As a friend and a neighbor we have an obligation to offer 
coosiructive criticism and U' :iupport their efforts to achieve the dream of democracy, social 
justice iind respect for hujn;m rights. 

President Salinas' choice of Jorge Carpizo to serve as Minister of the interior ana Manuel 
Lamacho lo bmdie negotia-ions with the rebels were extremely promising. And I thmk it is 
particularly inipor.ant that the President travelled to Chiapas last week to hear first hand from 
represen'^lives of hundreds of peasant groups wto were not involved in the uprisLig. Ihey told 
ium directly of a histor> of <tbuse, dl'^rimination and inequality that will take years to overcome. 

In the end, Mexico .viH succeed Lu closing the divisions and setting the ground\Nork for 
:.tabk and equitable develo;inent when Mayan fanners no longer fear the whims of tlic aimy. 
police or local lindlords, fjid when the youn^; descendants of a proud culture no longer suffer the 
pangs nfh inger ir. a land rich in bounl). 



61 



PREPAi^ED STATSMENT OF ALEXANDER F. WATSON 

Assistant Secretary of State 

before the 

Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs 

Committee en Foreign Affairs 

U.S. House of Representatives 

Washington, D.C. 

February 2, 1994 

Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, 1 appreciate 
this opportunity to appear before you today to discSss Jhp 
implications of che recent events in the southern 8?"e^ol 
Chiapas for U.S. -Mexican relations. ^ 

I would lik^ to begin today by undorscorino t-h.. #-o«. .v. i. 
never before in history has the UniteSi?a?es USyelCehi^;^ 
relation, with its neighbor to the south and thirSuargest 
trading partner. The ratification of the NAFTA treaty 
symbclizeB the new opportunities in our often comDlicat-^fl -n,i 
strained partnership, one in which Mexico has.o?ten cSar^ed a 
course in domestic and foreign policy at variance with th*? J# 
the united States. The end of the cJld war S?amat c ""^ 
transformations in Mexican economic policy, the beQinn<nn, «# 
liberalization of the Mexican political ?vst-.m.n^^ 2 ^? °' 
awareness on the part o£ the^^UeS'I? teJorthf imp^rJ^i"! o, 
Mexico and Latin America to U.S. national interests havA 
brought the U.S. and Mexico closer together iS many 'ways 
These premise to contribute to a growing and soUrretationshln 
based on mutual trust and commonality of interests. ^ 

I would like to highlight, Mr. Chairman, that improved 
relations with yexico parallel a fundamental change in the 
overall relations of the United States with Latin America 
After a difficult decade of economic reversals, the^reoio; h,, 
implemented far reaching political and economic reJormf^Sat 
have contributec to an economic upturn that has attracted 
investors worldwide. Mexico has led the way on many of th«. 
i^ri^'^'T?" *"^ "• '" confident that the impi2men?ation Sf ^ 
NAFTA will open up further opportunities for investment Shiio 
aading to our capacity to export to its growiiJlomelJic Trllt . 

At the sane time, the uprising in Chiapas illustrates ths 
serious challenges Mexico and other countries in the region 
face in addressing the still unresolved issues of poverti and 
lack of opportunity for important sectors of society tL 
legitimate grievances of the people of southern Mexico were 
neither caused oy NAFTA, nor should NAFTA be in any way 
compromised by ^hese developments. Indeed, the events in 
Chiapas demonstrated more clearly than ever the neeS lor 



81-474 0-94-3 



62 



NAFTA. With NAFTA, Mexico will continue on the path of free 
market reform, providing the private sector with strong 
anergize the country's economy and attract 

nto 

i,ci.vi.i>ie «■«. Si »,j..j»^i^ x^wixiiu r-ivw v"o i^'j i. i.>. jL\,)i i. legitiinacy that 
stems from open, free and democratic politics. The United 
States is confident that the Mexican government has respon 



CHIAPAS UPRISISq 

On the first of January, a group of armed insurgents of the 
self-proclaimed Zapatista Army of National Liberation, or EZLN 
by its Spanish acronym, launched attacks on four municipalities 
in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas: Ocosingo, Las 
Marqaritas/ Altramirano and San Cristobal de las Casas, the 
second largest city in the state and an important religious, 
commercial and tourist center. Government offices were seized, 
records and property destroyed, prisons stormed and prisoners 
released. An attack was also launched on the Mexican army camp 
of Rancho Nuevo. some 10 kilometers outside of San Cristobal. 

Although the Mexican government had known of guerrilla 
activity in th'a region for some time, the composition of the 
guerrilla group, the timing, and the scope of the attack took 
the Mexican army and governmental authorities by surprise. We 
too were aware of reports of groups, some armed, in Chiapas, 
though exact size, identity and motives were not known. We 
were equally surprised by the ferocity of the January 1 attacks 
and the size of the EZLN forces. 

The geography of Chiapas favored the formation in secrecy 
of the EZLN. separated from much of the rest of Mexico by 
mountains and forest, Chiapas shares a long border with 
Guatemala. Fcr years, indigenous people from Guatemala have 
crossed into Chiapas to escape fighting between local 
insurgents and the Guatemalan government. Currently, more than 
40,000 Guatemalan refugees reside in temporary refugee camps in 
southern Mexico, many in Chiapas. Thousands more who fled to 
southern Mexico are residing in towns and cities in Chiapas and 
neighboring states. Guatemalan insurgents have been suspected 
of seeking sanctuary in the Chiapas interior and — together 
with international drug traffickers (who transit the state) or 
connnon bandits — could have accounted for the earlier 
sightings reported in Chiapas. 

FiiBt reports out of Mexico suggested that, while many of 
the fighters were drawn from local Indian groups, the 
leadership may have come from Mexico City or from outside 



63 



Mexico, particularly the guerrilla groups in neighboring 
Guatemala. It appears, however, that th«re were no organic 
ties with any foreign group or tnovement. The Mexican 
government, which has been a prime facilitator of the peace 
process in Guatemala, concluded that there were no links 
between the EZLH and the Guatemalan URNQ. 

The Mexican Governroent ' s initial hesitation to 
counterattack the rebel offensive was followed by a firm 
response to the uprising. By January 5, th« Mexican army had 
reestablished control of the municipalities attacked on New 
Year's Day. Some human rights abuses nay have occurred in 
connection with the retaking of these municipalities. The 
insurgents took several hostages, including a former governor 
of Chiapas, and retreated to remote hamlets and rural areas 
Security forces pursued them with helicopter gunships and other 
aircraft, strafing and firing rockets at suspected rebel 
positions. It was during this period of stepped up military 
action that oth^r human rights abuses are reported to have 
occurred. 

Our Embassy moved quickly in response to the events in 
Chiapas, Embassy personnel arrived in San Cristobal and the 
state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez on January 2, the day after the 
beginning of the uprising, to provide assistance to U.S. 
citizens in the area and assess the unfolding developments. 
Our embassy in Mexico City had conveyed to the highest levels 
of the Mexican government our concern for the security 
situation in the region, and in particular for the potential 
for human rights abuses, prior to the initial press reports of 
possible human rights violations. During the course of many • 
contacts we noted the importance of attempting to establish a 
peaceful dialogue with the rebels. 

The Mexican government also became concerned over the 
potential for human rights abuses in a policy aimed at 
controlling tht rebellion by force. On January 6, President 
Salinas gave instructions to the government's authorities 
operating In Chiapas "to respect the human rights of the 
civilian population and guarantee the work of the mass media • 
On January 10, he called for a peaceful solution to the crisis 
in Chiapas and on January 12 ordered an immediate and 
unilateral ceaue-fire by security forces. He further promised 
to grant amnesty to rebels who put down their arms. His call 
for dramatic changes was reinforced by changes in the 
composition of his cabinet. The Minister of the Interior, who 
is responsible for internal security forces, state-federal 
relations and the conduct of elections, and who served as 
governor of Chiapas until January 1993, was removed from 
office. He was replaced by Jorge Carpiro, the Attorney 
General, and former head of Mexico's Human Rights Commission. 
Carpizo is a nan widely known for his scholarship, personal 
integrity and commitment to human rights and deinocratic 



64 



reforms. Foreign Minister Manuel Canacho Solis. a man who had 
won widespread praise tor his adept stewardship of the 
mayoralty of Mexico City and his skills as a negotiator was 
named to Berve ae Commissioner for Peace and Rtconciliation. 

At tha same time, the head of the autonomous and hlahly 
credible national Commission for Human Righti (known as CNDM by 
its Spanish acronym), Jorge Madrazo. was sent to investlaate 
possible human lights abuses. Under the terms of the cease 
fire, Mexican security forces were ordered not to seek out and 
engage FZLN insurgents, but to employ force only if attacked or 
If civilians were threatened. Through these actions. President 
Salinas aemonstrated a decisive commitment to due process and 
hunian rights and a conviction that the path to peace in Chiapas 
will come through reconciliation, not prolonged conflict The 
!!H^i^;\?^^T:[!^ is investigating all charges of human'rights 
abuses through the Attorney General's office, the CNDH, and the 
military justlca system. We have been assured by the Mexican 

puntshcr"" ^^*' '^°'^ ^°''"'^ ^""'^^^ "^ committing abuses win be 

.V I^^^is January 10 speech. President Salinas conceded that 
the fedaral govarnment had failed to address many of the social 
grievances of the inhabitants of southern Mexiro, despite 
increased expenditures on social welfare. He ordered the 
Secretary for Social Development to travel to Chiapas and begin 
consultation with local leaders on federal support for regional 
needs. Subsequent y President Salinas travelled to the region 
on January 25 to dialogue with representatives of indigenous 
groups who expressed their frustrations over the economic and 
social inequities of the region. 

Mr. Chairmen, we were encouraged by President Salinas* 
decisive steps in moving away from a policy of military 
confrontation to one that sought to engage the rebels in 
dialogue, recognizing that, while some of the leaders of the 
uprising may h&ve had specific political objectives their 
appeal to rural campesinos and indigenous groups drew on 

i:?bU:ro£'cht:p:r' "'""""' '""" '*" '"^"^ socio-cco-o-nic 

A resolution of the broader problems in Chiapas will not be 
achieved overn.ght Chiapas is « region of Mexico in whicSthe 
reforms of the Mexican revolution were never fully 
implen^ented. It is an area of deep inequalities, where 
powerful landlords and locel bosses have conspired to thwart 
the aspzratloni for justice and better standards of living for 
the rursl populations. It suffers from tensions between the 
indigenous and non-indigenous population, between different 
Indian coramunities and between adherents to diverse relioious 
beliefs. The human rights abuses in Chiapas and nlighbo?iSg 
states, reported in our annual human rights reports, are 
symptomatic of a numerous conflicts and unfulfilled 



65 



• xpectationa. Land owTierBhip patterns and rapid population 
increases (4.9% growth rates versus 2.2 for Mexico as a whole) 
in the region ace causing severe demographic pressures and 
scarcity of arable land. Of the more than 195,000 farmers in 
Chiapas, 95% hold individual parcels of land of no greater than 
5 hectares. Falling coffee prices have added to the economic 
squeeze in a ce-jion of the country that has not benefitted from 
modern Mexico's extraordinary growth and development in the 
center of the country and near the border with the United 
States . 

We remain concerned that prior to the peace initiative, 
hunan riyhts aruses may have been ccmmitted on both sides, 
particularly by the security forces. The prompt involvement of 
Mr. Ceraacho, the Mexican Human Rights Commission and Catholic 
Church authorities in the region may have helped limit the 
problem. Some 140 non-governmental human rights 
organi2ations--Mexican and non-Mexican — have sent personnel to 
Chiapas to assess the situation. The CNDH, through January 27, 
had received L"9 complaints from Chiapas residents, of which 
107 inquiries have been carried out. Seventy-two complaints of 
possible human rights violations remain under investigation, as 
do 123 (of a total of over 400) missing persons reports. 

The issue of access to prisons has been of concern to you, 
I know, Mr. Chairman. Let me sximmarize the action that the 
Mexican Goverment has taken. The CNDH has assisted three 
non-Mexican hunan rights organisations gain access to the Cerro 
Hueco prison in Tuxtla Gutierres to interview detainees. We 
are aware that not all of the NGO's were satisfied with the 
arrangements provided by the local representatives of CNDH for 
access to the prison. We are confident, however, that these 
difficulties resulted from administrative problems at the local 
level and not from a deliberate policy on the part of the 
authorities to bar international NGO's. The CNDH continues to 
pursue Its investigations and Mexican officials have made clear 
their determination to clarify the truth of what happened in 
Chiapas during the past month. 

As of today, fighting in the area has stopped. The 
government's actions contributed to shifting the conflict to 
the negotiating stage. Mr. Camacho has voiced concern that the 
EZLN may be pursuing a broad national agenda at the expense of 
local talks aimed at addressing the needs of Chiapas. However 
prospects for direct talks and talks mediated through the good 
offices of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, appear very encouraging. We 
expect that these will take place shortly. As a further step 
to reduce tensions, Mr. Camacho announced on February 1 the 
withdrawal of array troops from occupied towns and the 
designation of two villages as "neutral rones," off-limits to 
EZLN rebels and army troops. 



66 



CHIM'fi^ p:rnf?oMTC RgpoRMS awd wafta 

While the problems of Chiapas date back centuries, recent 
changes in the economy of Mexico and the global economy have 
certainly contributed to social upheaval in southern Mexico. 
As the Mexican Government has instituted financial, economic 
and trade reforms — steps which we have sec as crucial to 
long-terra growth and stability — there have been shocks to Its 
economy, particularly to those sectors which were inefficient 
or protected ftocn competition. In Chiapas, 58 percent of the 
population is dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood. 
Government efforts to modernize the agricultural sector through 
land reform and changes in support programs, coupled with 
worldwide declines in commodity prices for some of the state's 
main crops, have impacted significantly on this sizeable 
segment cf the Chiapas economy. Chiapas has been taigetted by 
the Salinas govecmnent to receive a large share of funds from 
governnient programs designed to provide for a social safety net 
during the period of economic reform. The best known program is 
Solidarity. 

One of the most significant aspects of the economic reforms 
of the Salinas administration has been the successful 
conclusion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA 
entered into force on January 1 and has begun to permanently 
alter the trading patterns of North America. The opening of 
the Mexican economy will increase overall economic efficiency 
and growth, but that growth will benefit some regions more than 
others at the outset. It is up to the Mexican Government to 
best use its fiscal and social policies to redistribute the 
benefits of growth to Include regions of slower growth. The 
Mexican Governrrent understands this, and Is committed to 
increase Its social expenditures in Chiapas. 

The first ph^se of NAFTA implementation is fully underway. 
Reports indicate that it is proceeding with few difficulties. 
Ambassador Jim Jones reports that our Embassy and Consulates 
are being inundated with inquiries from U.S. businessmen and 
women seeking information on doing business in Mexico. The 
inaugural meeting of the NAFTA Commission was held in Mexico 
City on January 14 and addressed a number of crucial 
implementation issues, including the creation of the NAFTA 
secretariat. Representatives from the Department of State, 
Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency are continue to 
work with their Mexican and Canadian counterparts on organising 
the commissions required in the labor and environment 
supplemental agreements and the Border Environmental 
Cooperation Agreenent. We hope the first meetings of the labor 
and environment commissions will occur in the spring. 

In the BZLN's initial 'declaration of war" on the Mexican 
government, NAFTA was deemed the death knell for the Indians of 



67 



Chiapae. I do not accept that judgment. Such a statement is 
little more then BZLN rhetoric that makes for catchy 
headlinea. The E2UJ itself claims to have been preparing for 

.»,''*rvJ°^ ^""^ ^*" ^^^^^ — ol5viou3ly long before NAFTA was 
on tne caoie. 

HAFTA is r;ot the cause of the social and economic 
in*iquBllties in Chiapas which spawned the uprising any more 
than NAFTA can be blamed for poverty or social tensions 
elaewhere in Xexico or the rest of North America. NAFTA onlv 
became operational on January 1 of this year. But make no 
Sj^T^L'^rS^^^ expectations of the Clinton Administration. 
NAFTA by iteelf is not viewed as the panacea to those 
problems. As the majority of economic studies project NAFTA 
will Increase trade and investment flows among the partners and 
stimulate the economies of all three. This will lead to iob 
creation and allow for more balanced development throughout 
Mexico. To quote Special Trade Representative Kantor from 
remarks made at the January 14 inausural session of the NAFTA 
Commission: 

"The idea of NAFTA is to raise standards of living to 
increase economies, to make all of North America more 
competitive. That creates jobs, [and] the ability of all 
three countries to create jobs and to raise their standards 
of living obviously addresses grievances that many have in 
all three countries," 

As it comes into full implementation, NAFTA win bring soma 
dislocations to segments of the economies of all three NAFTA 
partners. It has been suggested that corn producers in Mexico 
-- corn is a primary crop in Chiapas -- will suffer 
disproportionately from NAFTA ' s opening of the Mexican market 
tc cheaper and more efficiently produced U.S. corn The 
importance of corn production to the Mexican economy was taken 
into consideration in NAFTA as witnessed in the long phase-in 
period of the corn provisio.ns: 15 years, almost a generation. 

In aidition, the Salinas administration announced last 
October a new income support program for subsistence farmers 
including corn growers, known as PROCAMPO. PROCAmpo win 
provide direct income support to farmers who generally have not 
benefited from past Mexican price support programs. At the 
same time, it is designed to be phased out over the 15 years 
scheduled for NAFTA implementation. In 1994 alone, the Mexican 
Government will spend USD 3.5 biJLlion on PROCAMPO nationwide. 

Chiapas and the uprising there do not make Mexico an 
unreliable trading partner. Poverty in Chiapas predates 
NAFTA. But increased trade, which NAFTA fosters, will brinq 
rising prosperity in Mexico, and ultimately in Chiapas 
Expanded resources and expanded incomes will make for a hon-pr 
future for the people of Chiapas. oeccer 



68 



Furthermore, the NAFTA process is more than a closer 
linking of our trading patterns. This process accelerates a 
coraprfthenslve integration of our two countries in many areas. 
It helps energire local non-governmental organirations and 
forges links between them and like-rainded NGO'b in the 
international community. The process IncreaaeB Mexican 
sensitivities toward democratic values and human rights. Under 
NAFTA, Mexico is now more than ever part of the "global 
village. " 

PEMOCRATIZATION :n MEXICO 

Mr. Chairman, I would now like to turn to the other topic 
of today's heating: democratization in Mexico. As you know, 
Mexico has long been dominated by the PRi (Institutional 
Revolutionary Party), the political organization which emerged 
after the Mexican revolution. Over the years, the PRI has 
provided Mexico with considerable stability and presided over a 
remarkable transformation of the country. It is also 
acknowledged by rest observers that the prominence of the PRI 
has historically discouraged the development of an open and 
competitive democratic process. 

Just as we aie witnessing a remarkable transformation in 
Mexico, from a statist and protectionist economy toward an open 
economy that encourages free markets, we are also witnessing 
dramatic transformations in the Mexican political system. 
Under the leadership of President Salinas, Mexico has taken 
bold steps towards guaranteeing the protection of fundamental 
human rights and permitting an open and fair democratic 
process. For the first time in history, opposition parties 
have gained governorships in several states and significantly 
improved their representation in the legislature. Electoral 
reforms in 1990 and 1993, including the Federal Electoral 
Processes and institutions Code, introduced reforms in voter 
registration, pliiced limits on campaign spending and created an 
electoral court to adjudicate electoral disputes. 

These reforms, however, failed to fully satisfy opposition 
parties concerned about the impartiality of the electoral 
authorities. During the recent elections in the state of 
Yucatan, opposition parties complained of extensive fraud. It 
is for that reason, Mr. Chairman, that we welcome the 
announcement on January 27 that all of the candidates for the 
presidency in Mexico had reached an agreement entitled "Peace, 
Democracy and Justice." I cannot sufficiently underscore the 
historic dimensions of this agreement to which the leading 
opposition partiws, the PRD and the PAN, as well as the PRI, 
are all signatories. It recognized that _a necessary and 
unavoidable condition to a just and lasting peace is the 



69 



advancement of cSe.-nocrdcy through free elections. In th« 
aqraement the parties pledged to work for: 

1) the impartiality of electoral authorities; 

2) permanent access to voter liata and registration data; 

3) equality In access to and coverage by the media; 

4) prevention of the use of public funds and programs to 
favor particular parties or candidates; 

5) revision of the rules for party financing; 

6) review of che points in the penal code which could 
restrict political rights; 

7) consideration of a special federal prosecutor for 
election-related crimes; 

8) a consensus to work together for democracy and 
convocation, if warranted, of a special session of the 
Congress to consider further reforms. 

The United States believes that this accord, properly 
implemented, will strengthen democratic practices precisely at 
a time when Mexico is moving ^o establish closer ties with the 
United States and other democratic nations of the hemisphere. 

It is a tribute to the strength of the Mexican political 
process that these watershed agreements have emerged less than 
a month after the incidents in Chiapas. Chiapas, rather than 
representing a reversal in the process of economic and 
political tranafcrmation in Maxico, has proven to be a further 
energizing factor contributing to a deepening of the reform 
process. We hope and expect that this process will continue. 
The U.S. has beer, supportive of de.Tiocratic opening in Mexico, 
we have discussed frequently with Mexican officials our 
willingness to cccperate in ways which are in full conformity 
with Mexican law. The State Department has also met with 
non-governmental organizations to discus^? how they might be 
able to assist Xe^xican NGO ' s in ensuring the full 
implementation o: electoral laws. 

In closing, I would like to reiterate that we view with 
great optimism the development of closer ties with Mexico and 
applaud the proc»Jss of economic reform and political opening 
that is taking place in that country. The U.S. looks forward 
to deepening ties with Mexico and working fully with whomever 
the Mexicfen people elect as their leaders in the upcoming 
presidential race. We are confident that the implementation of 
NAFTA will continue to improve relations between our countries 
in the years ahe^d. In the aftet.raath of Chiapas, we are also 
mindful of the fact that Mexico, as well as other countries in 
the hemisphere, need to pay more attention to the plight of 
those sectors of the population which have been left behind by 
the svlft changes of modern life. 



70 



Just as Prasident Clinton has amphasized the need to 
address many of the basic and fundamental social problems that 
we continue to face in the United States, we welcome the 
renewed commitment of Mexico toward addressing the problems of 
poverty and Inequality. A policy of peace, reconciliation and 
democratic reform, with respect for human rights, will help 
strengthen the ties of our people on both sides of the border. 
Our own principles call for nothing less in the conduct of one 
of our most important bilateral relationships. 

I will be pleased to answer any questions members of the 
Subcommittee may h%ve. 



71 



7/ 



TESTIMONY 

BY 

ASSISTANT SECRETARY 
JOHN SHATTUCK 

BEFORE THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE 

ON 
WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS 

FEBRUARY 2, 1994 



72 



Mr. Chairman, members of the Sub-Committee- ±h?nif 
>ji^ opportAir.i-ty "tt; G incus's "the recent events in Chiapas, 
colleague. Assistant Secretary Watson, has provided a 
chronology of events and the response of the Mexican government 
to date. I would like to discuss in more detail the 
allegations of human rights violations that have arisen in the 
context of the violence in Chiapas. 

The recent revolt occurred against the backdrop of a long 
history of socio-economic and other problems plaguing Chiapas 
and some other poor Mexican states. Facing an exploding 
population which grew from 1&D,000 in 1950 to over 700,000 now, 
rapid economic change and depleted land and resources, many 
Highland Indians in Chiapas are frustrated with their lot in 
life. They rightfully sense that they have been unfairly 
denied justice, dignity and the land they need to support their 
families in traditional lifestyles. In our human rights 
reports for 1992 and 1993 we cite instances of abuses in 
Chiapas by authorities arising out of frictions related to the 
margina lization of Chiapas' indigenous population, a 
substantial percentage of which are Mayan Indians, and 
competing demands for land and resources. 

As soon as the Embassy and the State Department learned of 
the outbreak of violence, we took action to demonstrate to the 
Mexican government our concerns about human rights. The 
Embassy sent a team to Chiapas on January 2. Early on, before 
there were reports of human rights abuses, our Ambassador spoke 
with high level officials in the Mexican government to 
underscore the importance the international community places on 
respect for human rights. Similar concerns have been regularly 
expressed since by Department and embassy officials both 
publicly and in private discussions with Mexican officials. 

As of early February, the response of the Mexican 
government to the Chiapas uprising appears to be positive and 
conciliatory. The Mexican National Commission for Human 
Rights, CNDH by its Spanish acronym, has sent a team of 
investigators into Chiapas to look into allegations of abuse. 
To date, the Commission is investigating at least 170 
complaints. In the three years since it was established, the 
CNDH has compiled a solid record of investigating human rights 
abuses . 

As Assistant Secretary Watson has described, the Mexican 
government also acted last month to move well-respected 
officials into positions of responsibility for dealing with 
Chiapas. Particularly significant was the appointment of the 
former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo, who has a solid record 
as a prosecutor of human rights abuses and is former chairman 
of CNDH, to head the Interior Ministry. In addition, the 
government has recognized that much needs to be done in Chiapas 
to address social inequalities. 



73 



The government has also invited the International Committee 
of the Red Cross to visit prisons in Chiapas and other parts of 
Mexico where persons arrested during the uprising are being 
held. Finally the government has offered amnesty to those who 
will lay down their arms, and has begun to release prisoners. 

The response of Mexican and international human rights NGOs 
to the situation in Chiapas has been immediate and impressive. 
To date, some 140 organizations have sent representatives to 
Chiapas to offer assistance and gather information. I would 
like to take this opportunity to offer further support for 
those human rights monitors who have placed themselves in the 
middle of an uncertain and potentially dangerous situation in 
order to promote human rights in Chiapas. We have spoken to 
some of them and look forward to further discussions and to 
receiving their reports. We have also spoken with Mexican 
government and opposition party officials, journalists, 
religious and Indian human rights activists and others. 

I would like to address some of the major human rights 
concerns that have been raised about the Chiapas situation. 

Most prominent among these concerns has been the claim that 
the Mexican military executed seven to nine captured rebels in 
the town of Ocosingo, that the military fired indiscriminately 
at civilians, that the military was responsible for the 
disappearances of suspected Zapatistas, and that the military 
arbitrarily detained and abused, perhaps even tortured, a 
number of civilians. Military personnel have been accused of 
raping women they had arrested or detained. Human rights 
monitors claim that the military and other authorities 
threatened private citizens, members of the press and members 
of the clergy, especially Bishop Samuel Ruiz, head of the 
Catholic Church in Chiapas, who has accepted the Government's 
invitation to serve as a mediator in talks with the 
insurgents. I should note that Bishop Ruiz was in Washington 
just a few months ago to receive the Letelier-Mof f it Human 
Rights Award for his work in Chiapas. Last fall, we discussed 
the situation in Chiapas with Bishop Ruiz's chief aide for 
human rights. Padre Pablo Roma. 

We have looked carefully into allegations of abuse related 
to the Chiapas uprising, and continue to assess the situation 
as events unfold and new information becomes available. While 
our knowledge is far from complete, I would like to review some 
of the information we have obtained so far. 

1. Summary executions : Observers agree that seven to nine 
persons suspected of participating in the uprising were 
executed on or about January 2 in Ocosingo. The individuals 



74 



had been captured, disarmed and apparently had their hands 
bound behind their back at the time of the executions. We are 
not aware of any eyewitnesses, but the circumstances strongly 
suggest that the Mexican army was responsible. The army has 
claimed that it arrived to find the bodies already there. The 
CNDH announced on January 29 that the Military Attorney 
General's Office would investigate accusations into the 
apparent summary executions of rebels in Ocosingo. 

2 . Allegatio ns of indiscriminate firing into inhabitated 
areas : There were a number of occasions when aircraft fired on 
inhabited areas near San Cristobal, in some instances where 
there was no evidence or verification of Zapatista combatants 
in the vicinity. These attacks resulted in the deaths of 
noncombatant men, women and children. We are seeking to 
confirm how many. 

3, {Military abuse of authority. Physical mistreatment and 
disappearances . In the early days of the uprising the army 
assumed charge of the public safety and law enforcement duties 
normally reserved to the civilian government, due in part to 
the withdrawal of the police and other civil authorities in the 
face of insurgent hostilities. This situation continued well 
into the crisis, even after federal law enforcement officials 
ar rived . 

There is evidence that military personnel, who had no 
training in civilian law enforcement, in many cases disregarded 
basic civil and constitutional rights of Mexican citizens in 
areas under military control. There have been many reports of 
illegal and unjustified detention; physical abuse and beatings 
of detainees; abusive treatment during questioning, possibly 
amounting to torture; and disappearances of persons believed to 
have been in military custody. The military denies 
responsibility for human rights abuses, even in cases where 
there were multiple witnesses of public beatings and of persons 
verified to have been taken into military custody. 

These allegations of serious human rights violations 
occurring during in the early days after the uprising in 
Chiapas are substantial and of great concern. They must be 
fully and thoroughly investigated so that those responsible can 
be brought to justice under Mexican law. The Mexican 
Government has stated its commitment to do so. 

During the debate on NAFTA, I testified about problems in 
the areas of human rights and democracy in Mexico. I cited 
specific human rights abuses that are discussed in much greater 
detail in our 1991 and 1992 annual human rights reports. These 
reports give specific examples of abuses in Chiapas. At the 
same time, I noted at the hearings significant institutional 



75 



reforms that have been initiated during the last three years by 
the Salinas government in the areas of human rights 
accountability and electoral democracy. I noted then that 
NAFTA would enable the United States to work more closely with 
the Mexican government to move those reforms forward. 

Events in Chiapas have borne out both the negative and 
positive elements I discussed in my testimony last Fall. 
Chiapas has experienced significant patterns of human rights 
abuse, but the government has also responded to the situation 
in a positive manner, as it did when it set up the CNDH and 
took other actions to curb human rights abuses. 

We are aware of concerns that have been expressed by some 
human rights organizations and others that CNDH may lack the 
ability to investigate thoroughly and to follow through on all 
alleged human rights abuses in Chiapas. Based on its record 
over the last three years we believe CNDH is capable of 
fulfilling its responsibilities, and we will follow its 
activities very closely as it addresses these allegations of 
abuse. We will continue to urge the Mexican government to 
ensure that human rights are respected, and that all 
allegations of abuse are fully investigated and, when 
warranted, prosecuted. Thank you. 



76 



STATEMENT BY FERNANDO HER.NA.NDE2. 
T70TZIL MAYA. OF CHIAPAS. ME.XICO 
TO THE HOLSE SLBCOMMITTEE ON WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS 

2 FEBRL.ARY 1994 

I uant to begin by thanking Representative Toricelli and members of the 
Committee for inviting me to speak on behalf of this hearing on behalf of my 
people. 

It is important to understand that the problems in Chiapas have historical roots 
beginning with the Spanish invasion of our territory. This brought the 
destruction of our communal lands, when the Church created feudal lands and the 
Spanish established encomiendas. Both systems used Native people as slaves. 

Mayan people have suyed strong because they have stayed close to their 
culture. Despite the oppression of the system. Mayans have preserved their 
beliefs up to this time. It is really important for people to know that the 
present struggle is not an isolated event but it has come to the point where 
enough is enough. This Is not the first time that Mayan people have risen up 
against oppression to protect their lands. In the 1700s. Jacinto C-anek led an 
uprising in the Yucatan peninsula. In the 1800s in Chiapas there was an 
uprising led by Jacinto Perez Pajarito against the Spanish. But for a long time. 
the Mayan people have kept faith with the government by asking them to resolve 
the problems of the Mayans. Yet. this has resolved nothing. 

We do not believe that violence is the end of the struggle. Problems must be 
resolved in a peaceful way. For the past thirty years I have seen the racism 
against my people. Mayans are forced into the streets when mestizos are on the 
sidewalk. I have witnessed the changes In my people who become more Involved 
in protecting their language and culture and traditions. During the 60s and 70s. 
landless mestizos and Mayans formed alliances to resolve the Land claims which 
are at the bottom of this struggle, a struggle common to Indigenous peoples 
across the entire continent. Last year, from Palenque in Chiapas there was a 
march to Mexico City to talk to the President of the Republic. After marching 
2000 miles we arrived, but no one was there to tallc to us. This demonstrates 
how willing the government is to resolve the problems. What the Zapatistas have 
done is to go one step further, in order to press the government to resolve the 
land claim issues. 

The killing and disappeairance of Native people in Mexico Is a common and daily 
occurrence. The army goes Into communities, burns villages and removes people. 
It is important to know that repression of indigenous people and landless 
mestizos Ls not something new, it has gone on daily and the government does 
nothing to protect the human rights of the people Involved. 

The Zapatista movement accurately reflects the wishes of Native cind Mayan people 
in Mexico. What I believe is that my people want to live in peace, but peace can 
only come when the ejido Lands are returned and protected under the 
constitution. It is Important to know that in preparation for NAFTA, Salinas 
abolished the protection of ejidos (communal lands) through a constitutional 
amendment. NAFTA should include protection of Native lands, culture, traditions 
and communities. We also want the release of native prisoners and leaders and 
the end of human rights abuses, not Just for our Indigenous peoples, but for all 
Mexicans. What we want Is land and to live In peace. We want land and peace 
and that the government respect the language, culture and traditions of 
Indigenous peoples and allow us to become more autonomous. Education should 
be left to our elders and directed b>' our traditional people in our communities. 

I thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to speak to you on a 
matter of such importance to my people. 



77 



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Human Rights in Mexico and the Rebellion in ChiapM 

Teatimony of Juan E. Mtedcz, 

Executive Director 

Hunan Rights Watch/ Americas (formerly Americas Watch) 

before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee 
on Western Hemisphere AfTairs 

Wednesday, February 2, 1994 



Mr. Chairman: Thank you for inviting me to testify on this important 
issue. My name is Juan E. M^ndcz and I am the Executive Director of Human 
Rights Watch/Americas (formerly Americas Watch). As an organization 
dedicated to Lie promotion and defense of human rights in our hemisphere since 
1982, Hum^'-T Rights Watch/ Americas has conducted research, published reports 
and advocatec public policy in the United States v.ith respect to the enjoyment of 
fundamental Ireedoms in all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Our \^ork in Mexico started in the late 1980s. In 1990, we published our 
first repon, i: \jman Rights in Mexico: A Policv of Impunity . Later that year we 
published Pn^on Conditions in Mexico , jointly with the Prison Project of Human 
Rights Watch. In 1991, we updated our first report through the publication of 
Unceasing Ab use: Human Rights in Mexico One Year After the Reforms . These 
three reports have been published in Spanish m Mexico in a single volume: 
Derechos Humanos en Mexico; Una Polfticade Impunidad? (Planets, Mexico DF, 






78 



1991). In October 1993 we published a Briefmg Paper on human rights conditions in Mexico 
and we urged President Bill Clinton to consene a human rights summit to include all three 
governments that are signatories of the North Atlantic Fr^ Trade Agreement. 

In the five years s.nce we started monitoring Mexico in earnest, we have travelled 
frequently and extensively :n the country, ha\e appeared at Congressional hearings such as this 
one, and have met several imes with high-ranking officials in the Mexican government. 

The t\et\is, in Chiapas that t)egan on January 1, 1994 prompted us to make a special 
effort to find out the facts on the ground and to report them to the public in a timely manner. 
We issued two press releises that arc attached to this testimony as soon as early reports of 
'/iolations came to our aiteition. Our principal researcher on Mexico, Ms. Ellen Lutz, visited 
Chiapas between January ^ and 14 of this year. A report based on her findings will be 
pubUshed in the next few days. We will send a second fact-finding mjssion to Chiapas next 
week to keep abreast of the rapidly-changing situation on the ground, as well as to continue our 
mvestigations into the case; that are the subject of our concern. My testimony today is based 
on Ms. Lutz's field trip and on our day-to-day monitoring efforts, Including extensive contacts 
'vith cur colleagues in the Mexican human rights community. 

Significance of the events in Chiapas : 

The emergence of an armed rebellion in Chiapas at the end of this century and after the 
end of ilie Cold War, may seem an incongruity. In fact, however, it has forced public opinion 
in Mexico and elsewhere to come to grips with reality in a country that is attempting a giant leap 
in*x» modanity while leavu g behind large segments of the population who fear they are being 
iT.arginalized. Chiapas is n jt only the poorest state in the Mexican federation; it is also the state 
in which the administratior of Carlos Salinas de Gortari nas spent the most it) social programs 
without seeming to make n.uch of a dent on ihe desperate poverty of its people. It would be a 
mistake, however, to attribute the rebellion only lo these two factors. There are other parts of 
Mexico that also are very px)r and where social spending does not seem to alleviate the growing 
dispanty m income distribLtion and lifestyles. 

In Chiapas and in seme other parts of Mexico, there are long-standing confiicts over land 
tenure and use of natural resources. In Chiapas more than anywhere else, those conflicts are 
usually resolved through skullduggery and abuse of go\emmental power. The Partido 
Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Chiapas bears little resemblance to the image of 
-nodemization znd controUsd opening that S.Uinas has Cicrefuily cultivated. In Chiapas, rural 
bosses v,ath close lies to ne PRI (caciques) own not only the land; they also own the local 
pohce. civil authorities anc judges. Indian communities are thus deprived of ancestral lands, 
and peasants are increasing y left landless. Disputes over land are resolved by force, and social 
and political organizations that are formed to represent peasants are ruthlessly persecuted. 

In our first report on Mexico, we illustrated this practice with examples of brutal 
evictions v\ April 1990 in '.he communities of Paso Achiotc. Unidn y Progreso and Emiliano 



79 



Zapata, all of which arc In the district of Chiapa del Corzo. We also described similar incidents 
in March of that year in Luis Echeverrfa Alvarez and Chalam del Carmen, in the Ocosingo 
distnct. In all cases, security forces had acted in conjunction with private armies and following 
orders of local PRI cacique s . sometimes assisted by PRI-affiliated peasant unions. The evictions 
observed no semblance of due process, whole families were left without shelter or protection; 
and the auLnorities conducted massive arrests vviihout wanants. We also included a very serious 
case of torture by the Chiapas State police against five boys, aged 15, 12, 9, 8 and 7, in 
Simojovel, in January 1990.' 

In Vnceasing Abuses we reported a second attack on the communities of Paso Achiote 
and Emiliano Zapata in April 1991, as well as a February 1991 forceful eviction in Rancho Los 
Alpes. Again, th«se episodes were attended by unusual violence and massive arbitrary arrests. 
We also reported on the arest of a Belgian priest and his arbitrary expulsion from the country 
he had served for many years, on account of his advocacy or. behalf of Guatemalan refugees, 
'n the same report we included the murder of a Tapachula journalist who had published critical 
articles about powerful Ch apas families, and the arbitrary arrest on bogus charges of another 
local journalist." 

In our October 199? Brietlng Paper on Intimidation of Activists in Mexico, we referred 
to the unusual personal int.;rvention, in 1990. of then Chiapas Governor, Patrocinio Gotu^ez 
Garrido, in warning the federal National Indigenous Institute (Ihfl) not to work with local Indian 
groups, as well as threats and intimidation subsequently leveled against INI officials in the State. 
We also mentioned the arbi rary arrest of the parish priest of Simojovel, Chiapas, who was held 
for 49 d;iys in a cell in Tux:la Gutierrez. We described Governor Gonzilez Garrido's demands 
from the Catholic Church ii Chiapas as a condition for his release. The report also referred to 
the beating rece-.ved m Apr I 1993 by a lawyer who reprewnted Tzotzil Indians from San Isidro 
El Ocotal, Chiapas, who were charged with the murder of two soldiers.' 

Finally, it must be borne in mind that human righLs monitors based in Chiapas have been 
particularly targeted for persecution. Senior military officers have accused the widely respected 
Fray Banolom6 de las Casa. Human Rights Center of spreading "odious lies" about the military, 
"obstructing justice" and ' lefending criminaJs," in response to the Center's documentation of 



■ Americas Watch. Mgr,.i :a?: Human Rights Watch/Amtricas Watch Writes to Presidertf Clinton 
Ufsing NAFTA Summit on H u man Rights . Volume V, Number 10, October, 1993, pp. 12 et se<j . 

■ Americas Watch. Uncea>i:ig Abuses; Human Rights in M exico One Ya.ir After the Introduction of 
Reform. September 1991, pp 26 and 30. 

' Americas Watch, Volume V, .Number 10, October 1993, iji.. pp. 13-14. 



80 



military abuses in two Chiapas communities in March 1993.* To iu own discredit, the National 
Commission on Human Ri^^hts of the federal government joined in this attack on the Center. 
The Center's principal sponsor, the Roman Catholic Bishop of San CristtSbal de las Casas, Don 
Samuel Ruiz, has been singled out for stinging and unfair criticism for his work among the poor. 

The preceding exarrples demonstrate what, in our view, is the proximate cause of the 
rebellion: the per/asive culture of human nghts violations Ciat has marked the PRI rule in 
Chiapas. Not only has tlie I'RI continued to govern Chiapas as if the much-touted modernization 
of Mexico v/as not applicable there; it has also managed to implicate national institutions in its 
despotic policies. The Mexican Army has b.;en deployed in Chiapas for several years on die 
pretext of securing the b<»rder with Guatemala and of conducting drug interdiction and crop 
eradication operations. In tact, the Army has been used to intervene on the side of the caoaUfiS 
in disputes over land and natural resources. 

The Cluapas PRI, on the other hand, is by no means an aberration. The party 
suspiciously earns the largest electoral victores in Chiapas, despite the protracted civil unrest. 
Perhaps for that '■eason, Chiapas contnbutes significantly to the national leadership of PRI. 
iJntil January 10, 1994, the all-powerful Secretaria de Gobemacion (Ministi7 of Interior) of the 
federal government, was ir, the hands of Patrocinio Gonz;ilez Garrido, who had taken a leave 
of absence the year before fiom his governorship of Chiapias to accept the federal position. 

Chiapas, tlierefore. is at the same time representative of national Qiends in Mexico and 
the most extreme example of the volatile nature of some of those trends. That is why the New 
Year's rebellion has shakei; Mexico's self-confidence and, has shown the country's social and 
po'iitical problems in nak&j realism. It has called into question the unjustified optimism in the 
United Sta es and elsewhere about Mexico's immediate future. On the other hand, the events 
unfolding in the South of Mexico present a challenge to Mexico's political establishment and 
have the potential of promf ting definitive reforms Uiat could ultimately bring Mexico to a well- 
earned seat among the world's democracies. 

The Govemmer.t's respon d ; to the uprising : 

Two distinct phases can be identified in the way the Salinas administration reacted to the 
■ebellior. Initially taking ;ts cues from the Chiapas State authorities, the fedend government 
deployed Army troops and air support and attempted a military pursuit of the rebels who had 
rled mtc die jungles. String suggestions were made of the non-Mexican origin of the rebel 
leaders, and false accusatio -s were leveled at 'he Church, especially against Bishop Samuel Ruiz 
of San Cnsibbal de las Ca^^as, and against pnests involved in the Fray Bartolomd de las Casas 



* The military abuses were amply documented by our colleague organization, Minnesota Advocates 
:or Hum.ui Rithis, in Civjli z os at Risk: Military' and Police Abuses In Mexico's Countryside . World 
Policy Insurute, July 1993. 



81 



Human Rights Center. The press and human rights monitors, who had provided good covenge 
of the early events, were prevented by the Army from visiting the areas of military operations. 
Large areas of the countryside were effectively scaled so that repression of the movement could 
be conductied without witnesses. As explained in detail la:er in this testimony, this first stage 
included severe violauons cf human rights and of the laws of war, the magnitude of which we 
are only now begirming to grasp. 

On January- 10 .President Salinas did a remarkable about-face on Chiapas. He fired Mr. 
Gonzalez Gamdo as Intencr Minister and appointed Jorge Carpizo MacGregor to replace him. 
Carpizo is a distinguished jiirist who has been Rector (President) of the National Autonomous 
I'niversity of Mexico (UN.AM) and a Supreme Court Justice. In 1990 he stepped down from 
the Court to become the h.inan nghts ombudsman , under the title of President of the newly- 
created National Commisi..on on Human Rights (CNDH). Under his leadership the CNDH 
became a large agency, and produced thorough and far-reaching investigations into human rights 
abuses. In early 1993. Carpizo became the Procurado- General de la .Rgp'.lblica (Attorney 
General). His task of cleaning up the PGR and its police body, the Federal Judicial Police, met 
with mixed success. 

On the same date. P -esident Salinas announced that he had asked Manuel Camacho SoUs, 
the Foreign Minister and former Mayor of Mexico City, to lead an effort to reach a peaceful 
settlement m Chiapas. Ci.macho is a highly respected leader of the PRI. He immediately 
travelled to Chiapas and arnounced that his peace-making effort would be made in his private 
capacity as a citizen, and not as a government employee. He also reversed policy by inviting 
Bishop Ruiz tojom him in mediating the conflict, a demand originally made by the rel>els of the 
^ je^clIO■ Zaoaiisia de Libt^aci^n Nacion^l (EZLN). The EZLN had also called publicly for 
Nobel Laureate and Indian rights advocate Rigoberta Menchu lo participate in the effort. Ms. 
Menchii. a Guatemalan nauonal, has been allowed to conciuct a fact-finding mission in Chiapas. 
On January 19, the Governor of Chiapas, Elmar Setzer, tendered his resignation; he was 
replaced by Javier L6pez Moreno. 

Significantly, the change of poUcy had an almost immediate effect on the ground. The 
government announced a urulateral cease-fire, and the Army allowed press and monitors to visit 
all areas of tiie countryside. On January 16, the Mexican Congress issued an anmesty law 
designed to persuade the rebels to put down their arms in exchange for non-prosecution. 
Though the law has yet to bave its desired effect, it does show a political will to seek a peaceful 
resolution of the contlict, for which the Mexican goveniment deserves credit. On the other 
hand, Human Rights Watcn is concerned that, by its very broad terms, the amnesty could be 
interpreted to allow serious crimes against defenseless persons, perpetrated by the rebels and by 
government agents, to go inpunished. 

For its part, the EZLN has not offered to-lay dowTi its arms, but in several press releases 
It has sounded a relatively :onciliatory tone. Peace is not yet within reach in Chiapas, but the 
'juce is holding and it is not unrealistic lo harbor hopes for a settlement. 



82 



In the meantime, the reformist momertum has carried on beyond Chiapas. On January 
26, the PRl and the two major opposition parties (PAN and PRD) reached a compromise on a 
nevi' electoral law that, for ihe first time in decades, would create independent bodies to rule on 
the fairness of elections. If these reforms are carried ou: in good faith, they would go a long 
way toward providing muci-needed legitimacy to Mexico's electoral processes. 

On the other hand, we remain concerned at the persistence of impunity for human rights 
violations, a pattern which we have identified as the most significant factor in the repetition of 
senous abuses of all lands. We have yet to hear a definitive expression of the government's 
intent to investigate, prosecute and punish the senous violations committed in the fint ten days 
of fighting agair.st the EZL V. In response to our queries in this respect, aides to Mr, Camacho 
lold us that It would not be a good idea "to get into a pissing contest" with the .\rmy right now. 
In fact. It IS already apparent that the new course set by President Salinas does not necessarily 
mean an end to impunity. In late January, the Ministry of Defense issued a statement 
categorically denying any aouses by the Mexican Army and attacking the bearers of bad news. 
On the occasion of a visit to Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital, on January 25, President Salinas 
gave a short speech reaffixiing his commitment to a peaceful solution. Unfortunately, he 
included a favorable mentic n of the role played by the Mexican Army, which does not bode well 
for the likelihood of a serious investigation into the military's abuses. 

Violations of the laws of -a ar and of human rights standards bv government forces : 

- Summary Executions: There is mounting evidence that Mexican armed or security 
forces committed acts of summary execution against EZLN guerrillas or suspects. The best 
documented case took plact m the marketplace in Ocosingo at the end of the EZLN occupation 
of that city t)euveen Januar, 1 and January 3. The international media photographed and filmed 
rhe bodies of at least five young men who bore clear signs of having been shot at close range, 
execution-style, and of having had their wrists bound. CNDH forensic specialists have 
acknowledged that their ctaths occurred hors de combat . Dr. Gyde Snow, an authority in 
forensic anthropology who reviewed the evidence for Physicians for Human Rights, has said Lhat 
•"our of the men were shot tit close range, in the back of tlie head, while kneeling; one was shot 
on the side of his head. The weapon used was a handgun, and the calibre of the bullets is 
consistent wiOi the sideartr used by Army personnel. The marketplace had been the site of a 
rlerce battle between tJie HZLN and police and the Army, The Army took control of the 
marketplace at least as of Tuesday, January 4. The bodies were found later. The investigation 
is proceeding, but we are (iscouraged that it has been asiigred to a military court. 

At the en.J of the occupation of San Crist(5bal de '.as Casas, some EZLN members 
com.mandeered a bus that v/as attacked by the Army. Journalists who visited the site reported 
seeing more than a dozen tiodies lymg outside the bus, and that some of them had their faces 



83 



blown off.' We believe it unlikely that such wounds could have been sustained In combat, 
especially if the corpses weie found not inside the bus they were occupying but a few feet away. 
We are not aware of any autopsies conducted in this case, nor is there any exhumation planned, 
to our knowledge. 

- Disappearances: ^rmy sweeps in many towns and hamlets have resulted in massive 
arrests. Many fa-tiilies ha\e come to the urban centers of Chiapas looking for information on 
the status and whereabouts of those detained. In some cases they have been able to locate them, 
but there are many report.'; of persons who are still missing after their capture. For example, 
on January 20, the MexiavCity-based Fray Francisco de Vitoria Center for Human Rights 
reported the detention and disappearance of t\\'elve persons. In a press release issued on January 
25 , CNDH said that it had received 400 requests for information on whereabouts of detained 
persons, and had solved 2''8; it was still trjing to locate the remaining 122 (On January 15 
CNDH had said it was looidng into 231 complaints of disappearance). 

Because the goverriinent was not forthcoming with the names of persons kno'ATi to it to 
be dead, wounded or m ^ ustody, it caused unconscionable distress to family members of 
disappeared persons. The CNDH partially reduced that distress in its January 25 press release 
in which It named two lis:s of persons detained under federal and state charges for crimes 
allegedly committed in the ,x)urse of the rebellion. But it is inexcusable that neither the Army, 
the federal or state prosecutors, nor prison authorities provided any response to the many 
desperate inquiries of relatives. 

- Torture and Cruel, Lnhuman and Degrading Treatment: Many of those arrested and held 
under suspicion of involve; nent with the rebellion complained of interrogation techniques that 
included Uirture. They were held in abject conditions of impnsonment that amount to cruel, 
inhuman and degrading trcitment under relevant international law standards. Our forthcoming 
'epon will include testimony gathered directly by our mission in January, and we expect to 
document the extent of the practice in the course of our second mission to Chiapas, starting next 
week. 

- Arbitrar\ Arrest and Due Process violations: As stated earlier, Army sweeps, some of 
which were conducted in conjunction with PGR detecbves, resulted in massive arrests. Many 
villagers were taken from tiieir homes without apparent probable cause that they were involved 
in the insurrection. After many public requests for information, on January 25 CNDH reported 
chat it had established that 131 persons had been arrested; of those, 58 were released and 70 
were formally charged. The other three are minors who were sent to reformatories. These 
figures are based on coun eports; they evidently do not include persons arrested by the Army 
who have not yet been sj omitted to proper civilian authorities, or who have been released 
eventiially with no explanat.on. For example, in Morelia, Altamirano district, the Army arrested 



' Tod Robbers.jn, "55 K.llid in Fighting in Southern Mexico," The Washington Post . January 3, 
1994, page A-15. 



84 



39 peasants, released only 7, and took the re^t to Comitin. 

Eghtccn non-Mexicans (Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran) were arrested and 
charged with violating immigration laws. In at least one case, in Oxchtuc, the PRI mayor used 
the occasion of the Army presence to arrest 16 members of a dissident organization of civil 
society called "Trcs Nudos " 

- Violations of laws of war: Before the cease-fire, there were multiple reports of 

aerial bombing and strafing of hamlets and cojntryside dwellings, even though observen on the 
site reporte'd no presence cf guerrilla forces. Hamlets Oiat have reportedly been subjected to 
aerial fire include Corraliic, San Antonio de los Bai^os, San Isidro el Ocotal, Santa Lucfa, San 
Juan Buenavnsta, Carrizolito, San Jos^ del Carmen, San Antonio, El Porvenir and Pefia Maria, 
all of them communities that lie in a cluster South of San Cristobal de las Casas. They were 
strafed together. There were separate incidents of indiscriminate bombing m the district of 
Altamirano. 

Eyewitnesses told our mission that, during the battle for control of Ocosingo, the 
Army used helicopters to fire mdiscrimmately at civilian sites. The number of civilians dead 
in that battle is very high, suggesting that the Army violated a cardinal obbgation imposed by 
the laws of war: to minimize harm to the civilian population. Civilians must be given 
appropnate warning of impending attack, and must be given a chance to leave the area of 
fighting. Even when they ijc present in a baftle site, it is the obligation of the attacker to apply 
the "rule of proportionality " by weighing the military necessity and importance of the objective 
to be achieved Ln the attack agamst the likelihood of harm to civilians. We believe that 
President Salinas should order an impartial civilian investigation of Army actions in Ocosingo 
and elsewhere, arid explain to the public how so many civilians died; if violations of these ever- 
present obligations can be confirmed, those responsible must be punished. 

The Army has occupied towns and hanleis and behaved abusively against their dwellers. 
In the example of Morelia, cued above, the \Tllagers have complained that many of them were 
threatened with execution. l!iat soldiers ransacked common storage houses, killed their livestock, 
and prever.ted them from going to certain parts of the town. Hamlets in and around Corralito 
were abandoned by their dwellers as they were driven out by the bombing and su-afing. Their 
homes were ransacked and all possessions of value were stolen or destroyed. 

These actions have caused the displacement of hundreds of peasant families from areas 
of countennsurgency operations. Many have sought refuge with Catholic and other churches 
in San Crist6bal, while o'hers have tied to d'her areas of the state. The Mexican government 
has the responsibility of receivmg the displaced population in good cars, and to offer 
compensation for their losses and assistance in returning to their homes. 

Violations of the Laws of War bv the R7T,N : 

As in other conflict', that we have monitored over the years, we hold the EZLN to their 



85 



obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Tlie fact that they have 
decided to take up arms against the State instantly obliges them to respect standards that are 
codified in that norm, which is declarative of customary international law. These obligations 
are wholly independent of ?ny particular status that the EZLN might enjoy in international law, 
and " it must t>e stressed - they are also net conditioned on the behavior of their adversary. 
In its declaration of war of January 1 . 1994, 'he EZLN pledged to respect and be bound by the 
universally recogrdzcd laws of war. 

The EZLN has taktn hosuges. They have held Absaldn Castellanos, a retired Army 
general and former Gove-nor of Chiapas, since the beginning of the war. Independent 
confirmation that he is alve and in E2XN custody was made only on January 31, when 
journalists were able to iiiter\'iew him in an undisclosed jungle location. The EZLN has 
announced that Castellanos is the only hostage they arc holding. At first they had announced 
that he had been tried and .bund guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment sharing the lives of 
the peasantry. On Jar.usiy 31, the EZLN announced its intention of exchanging him for 
captured guerrillas. We ha\ e repeatedly calle<.1 on the EZLN to release him and other hostages. 
Mr. Castellanos is not a legitimate military target, since he plays no role in the hostilities. 
Holding him to arfect the conduct of the enemy (i.e., the release of EZLN combatants) meets 
the classic defmition of hostage -taking, which is specifically prohibited by international 
humanitarian law. 

During the brief occupation of Ocosirgo, EZLN combatants also held a few prominent 
citizens hostage. One of them, ophthalmologist Francisco Talango, was killed by EZLN 
combatants when he tried ti) flee from the Ocosingo market. Since his arrest was a violation in 
any event, his murder is a senous breach of Common Article 3. The EZLN also burned houses 
and cars belonging to its htistages. 

Even more seriously, they reportedly "shielded" themselves during combat by having 
civilians in their midst. According to eyewimesses, some of these civilians may have chosen 
fo stay with the EZLN because they sympathized with their cause. Even under that 
circumstance, the combatant has a duty to warn all civilians of possible risk, to allow those who 
choose to lea\e to do so, and not to retain ariybody as a shield against attack. Those civilians 
who choose to remain in the path of battle assume the risk of harm, and it is not necessarily a 
violation o:' the laws of war if they become casualties. (Vv'e note here, in any event, that neither 
"shielding" nor voluntary presence of civilians at a military target operate to relieve the other 
side from its obligation to minimize harm to civilians. .At all times, the attacker is bound to 
apply the "rule of proporticnalit}'," weighing the military advantage to be obtained by attacking 
the military targe: against the possible damage to be suffered by cinlians). 

It has been reponed that, in some cases, the EZLN engaged in forced recruitment of 
combatants. We are not in a position to confirm this at this time, but will attempt to document 
the praaice in the course cf our next m.issior.. 

It was also reported that EZLN forces fired on Mexican Red Cross personnel who were 



86 



trying to rescue victims of the fighting, wounding two volunteer medici. 

In the towns the EZLN occupied, they attacked non-military targets such as local 
government buildings, setti:\g fire to records and furniture. They also freed persons detained 
in local prisons. 

Access to H uman Rights Investigations: 

As staled above, there was a brief attempt to cordon off large areas of Chiapas and to 
conduct the counter-insurgency effort in secrecy. Even though that ill-advised policy has been 
reversed, there have been problems with obtaining full access to the available information. On 
January 10, our investigato hand-delivered a note to then Attorney General Carpizo asking for 
the following information: 

(1) To what extent a-e fatalities turned over to the PGR (to establish whether crimes have 
been committed? .\re autop .ies being conducted? \Miat are the results? Except for the Ocosingo 
autopsies, we have not reaived information on this question. 

(2) Are prisoners being turned over to the PGR? How long after capture? Do they bear 
any signs of abuse during custody? Have they been charged? With what? The PGR has not 
responded. The CNDH has issued a press release, but ilie information made public is limited 
to the names of those who 1 ave been charged Ln federal or state courts; no information has been 
produced on wheiher they have been mistreated, nor on the charges brought against them. 

(3) Are house to house searches being conducted? Do they satisfy legal requirements? 
Again, we have no respoise. We note here that Mexico has not chosen to suspend any 
constitutional guarantee on this occasion, so standards prohibiting illegal searches and seizures 
are in effect. 

(4) Can you provide information on the hostages presumed to be held by the EZLN? We 
have received no response; the government has remained silent on this matter. 

Vr'e also asked Mr. Carpizo for mformation on a few specific cases. Of those, we have 
received some information, which we described elsewhere in this testimony, about the corpses 
found in th.e Ocosingo mar<etpiace. We have received no information yet on the other cases. 
Similarly, we have yet to leceive any response to the open letter we sent to President Salinas 
on January 5. 

Since the launching, of the peace effort on January 12, access to the region has improved 
considerably, .^s our col'eagues from Amnesty Intemationai will point out, however, the 
Govcmr?ent has not alwa; s lived up to its promises v.ith regard to access to prisons and 
pnsoner-j. It is worth registering, Mr. Chairman, that your own efforts in asking the Mexican 
govemrr.ent to provide access to human rignts monitor?, have been decisively helpful. The 
Govern mem has allowed thi Intemationai Committee of the Red Cross GCRC) to conduct visits 



87 



to the Cerro Hueco prison in Tuxtla Gudirrez. On the other hand, the authorities have 
attempted to use that fact a5 a pretext to pre\'ent other human rights delegations from conducting 
their own visits. We are convinced that the ICRC does not request exclusivity and that there 
was no reason to delay other human righu organizations from visiting prisoners. 

With respect to the bodies found in the Ocosingo marketplace, the government initially 
engaged in what can only be called a cover-up. Forensic specialists of the PGR (at that time still 
under the leadership of Jopje Carpizo) examined thirty bodies and produced a press release on 
January 7. It claimed that utopsics and other tests performed the previous day showed that each 
of the four persons who exhibited a "kilLng-ofT shot to the head (tiro de gracia ^ had been killed 
on different dates and limes, and that the shots were made from guns that the Armed Forces do 
not use. As stated earlier, i more thorough examination by CNDH specialists has now clearly 
established that all five persons were executed at the same approximate time, and that the shots 
are consistent with handguns used by the Army as side arms. The latter findings have been 
corroborated by intemanoraUy-recogmzed expert Dr. Clyde Snow, of Physicians for Human 
Rights. 

It is also clear that t le PGR not only hastened to cover the Army's back, but completely 
neglected to presf rve crime scenes. Dr. Snow and his mission surveyed the scene of another 
cnmc many da>s after the i>.xlies of two men were found. The victims had been arrested by 
local police and turned to the Army before their corpses were found. Dr. Snow found evidence 
of importance for a proper identification of the victims. In spite of the evident contradiction 
between the first and the sxond examination of the Ocosingo corpses, on January 28 CNDH 
made a feeble attempt to convince pubUc opjiion that no serious discrepancy existed between 
the PGR and CNDH experts. The initial autopsy, supposedlv, did not have the benefit of 
examimng the vicums' cloihes that the Chiapas State prosecutors gathered and later delivered 
to the CNDH team. If so. the PGR's hasty press release offering conclusions without adequate 
evidence is even more quctionable. 

United States Pol icy 

The Clinton Admiiiistration was caught off-guard by the New Year rebellion On 
Sunday, January 9, Secre-.jy of State Warren Christopher avoided commem on human rights 
violations as he spoke on "This Week with David Brinkicy;" his comments wet^ limited to 
expressing the mcisputable fact that "governments do have to take steps in order to protect law 
and order..." 5s then, news of human rights violations were widely reported but like Mr 
Chnstopher, State Depan nent spokespersons dodged the questions claiming 'that the U s' 
Embassy had no independeMt way of knowing what was happening. This is in contradiction with 
a January 3 bnefing in which the State Department announced that the Embassy in Mexico had 
dispatched a five-member team to Chiapas on January 2. After Salinas changed course 
statements by the U.S. government emphasized the promising nature of his measures; on January 
1 1 , State Depanment spokesperson Christine Shelly commented only that President Salinas had 
acknowledged some misamduct; she carefully avoided speaking in the voice of the U S 
govern mem. 



88 



On January 25. Assistant Secretary Alexander Watson held a press conference in which 
he again praised the efforts the Salinas government was making to reach peace and protect 
nghts. For the first time, he acknowledged that the U.S. government had "raised human rights 
at the very highe;.t level from the outset of this crisis," but then hastened to add that "it [the 
inquiry] was preemptive. It was not reacting to information." \M\en asked if the U.S. now had 
evidence of abuses, Watson said he had reports from Amnesty International and Americas Watch 
and other orgamaations. He added: "1 do not know yet whether wc have any independent 
information on our own tha' would allow us to conclude from those sources that there have been 
human nghts violations." He ended his presentation with this sentence; "...we're encouraging 
the Mexican government - and no reason to think that they will not do this -- to investigate all 
of these charges as thorouglily as possible." 

In fact, as our repo-ts on Mexico for the past few years show, there is every reason to 
think that human rights violations will go unpunished, unless international public opinion - 
especially Mexico's closes! friends -- insist on accountabUit>. Wc do not doubt that the State 
Department has remained close to the situation and that it has engaged in quiet diplomacy with 
the Mexican government o^ behalf of human rights. Perhaps that approach proves effective. 
But the violations described in this testimony are too serious not to warrant open diplomacy 
initiatives and smcere publio expressions of concern for the victims. These abuses are so serious 
that we believe it is the du*y of the United States government to speak out against them and to 
do so as they become ki\TATi, without waiting for President Salinas to admit the existence of 
problems. 

I: has also been re^irted that, in the early aerial campaign in the Chiapas countryside, 
the Mexican Air Force had used American-made helicopters leased to Mexico for the fight 
against drugs. It is our understanding that the State Department is reviewing whether the 
Mexicans misused the leased aircraft. In a January 26 press release, the Mexican government 
contends that the helicopters were not misused, because they can be used "in times of natural 
disaster, to preve^it loss of life or otherwise engage in humanitarian undertakings." As we report 
elsewhere m this testimony, it would be difficult to describe these military operations as part of 
a "humaniianan undertakjuig." We urge Congress to make the appropriate inquiries and obtain 
the necessary answers to cix-ify whether there has been an improper use of this materiel. 

Conclusion : 

Mr. Chair. nan: the search for a peaceful settlement in Chiapas must be supported. As 
a humar> rights organizatioa, we are convinced that the best way to support the peace process 
.s to urge the Mexican gcvemment to disclose everything that can t»e known about serious 
violatiors, and to live up to its obligations in domestic anc international law to investigate them, 
and prosecute and punish those who are founc to be responsible. We don't agree that the search 
!'or peaceful solut;ons necaisitates either de facto or de jjre amnesties or pardons. We are in 
favor of a generous policy of clemency for the crime of rising in arms against the State; we will 
also support a.T amnesty for State ofticials who may have committed abuses of discretion as long 
;is they have not caused erdaring harm. But we steadfastly object to amnesties that have the 



89 



effect of sweeping serious crimes under the rug, whether committed by the insurgents or by state 
agents. Disappearances, txtra -judicial executions, widespread and severe torture, and grave 
breaches of the laws of wa' are war crimes cr crimes agair.st humanit)', and governments have 
a duty to investigate, prostcute and punish those responsible. 

We think a policy of truth and justice for these crimes is essendal to building an enduring 
peace. A program designee J to achieve truth and justice is a confidence-building measure while 
talks have not yet begun in earnest. The victims and the population at large arc more likely to 
support a peace process if they can trust the State to be fair and impartial and if that peace 
process is not perceive as leaving societal wounds open for generations to come. 

We are also encouraged at the prospect of finally reaching true electoral reform in 
Mexico. But in Mexico ard elsewhere, true democracy is not limited to periodic, tree and fair 
elections. The institutions, of the State must be made to work and to fulfil! their promise, 
especially those institutions, like courts and prosecutors, that arc responsible for protecting the 
rights of citizens and cor'-ecting wrongs done to them. 

The creative and tenpered approach so far adopted by President Salinas to confront the 
rebellion in Chiapas, and he possibility of a break-through in the way Mexican elections are 
conducted are two signs that Mexico is changing. We would hke to point out two other 
encouragirg signs of a new Mexico: the mdispensable roles played by organs of civil society and 
•.he press m responding to Uie Chiapas cns.is. Orgam7ations of civil society, and foremost 
among them iion-govcniirt ntal groups dedicated to human nghts, have reacted to the crisis by 
■establishing a presence in force in the war zone. They are providing accurate and reliable 
'.nformalion, standing by he victims, and engaging in frank and honest dialogue with the 
authorities. The Mexican press has also risen to the task: there has been more and better 
^dependent investigation a id reporting from the war zone than anything we have seen elsewhere 
'.n the hemisphere in similar situations. We have no doubt that Mexican civil society is making 
;he largest contribution to '.leace with justice in Chiapas today. 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 



90 



PREPARED STATEMENT OF CARLOS M. SALINAS, 

Government Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, 

Amnesty International USA, 

before the 

Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs 

Committee on Foreign Affairs 

U.S. House of Representatives 

Washington, D.C. 

2 February 1994 

Mr. Chairman, Ranking member, members of the subcommittee, on behalf of 
Amnesty International USA, thank you for the opportunity to testify on events relating 
to the January 1 uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Amnesty International 
recently sent a two member delegation to Chiapas which spent close to five days 
compiling testimony and other evidence in situ. 

DOCUMENTATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CHIAPAS 

Amnesty International has been documenting human rights violations in Mexico 
for many years and has issued several reports and documents, some of which have 
Chiapas as the focal point. For example, an extensive document entitled Mexico. 
Human Rights in Rural Areas: Exchange of documents with the Mexican government 
on human rights violations in Oaxaca and Chiapas was published by Amnesty 
International in 1986 highlighting continuing violations of human rights as well as a 
pattern of impunity benefiting state agents involved in such violations. This report 
stated that "Peasants and Indians in rural Mexico have allegedly been the victims of 
political killings, torture, unacknowledged arrest and prosecution on false charges, 
according to reports received by Amnesty International over several years. Most of 
these alleged abuses took place in states with a large indigenous Indian population 
where there have been longstanding land disputes." 

This statement was echoed in the 1991 publication, Mexico. Torture with 
Impunity , which stated that "Torture in rural Mexico has been widely reported for 
many years and was the subject of an Amnesty International report in 1986. Now, as 
then, many of the victims are peasants and indigenous peoples active in the struggle for 
land rights." 

The year 1992 saw the publication of two reports that documented human rights 
violations in Chiapas: a July document entitled "Mexico, Human rights violations 
against Ch'ol and Tzeltal Indian activists" and the October publication Human Rights 
Violations against the Indigenous peoples of the Americas . Indeed, the July document 
stated that the "failure of the Mexican authorities to fully investigate the complaints of 
torture, ill-treatment and illegal detention of members of indigenous communities and 
to bring those responsible to justice, leads Amnesty International to the conclusion that 
these violations take place with the acquiescence of the authorities." 

Finally, Amnesty International released a paper in August of 1993 entitled 
"Mexico, Continuing human rights violations against members of the Tzeltal 
indigenous community in Chiapas." This paper documented events on 6 June 1993 
when more than 1000 members of the state security forces raided several Tzeltal 
communities. During this incident, "several people including women and children 
suffered beatings during the raid. Members of the security forces reportedly destroyed 
more than 100 houses" and stole belongings. Twenty-three men were detained and 
taken to Cerro Hueco prison where "they remained for three days and allegedly 
sutYcrcd torture" and were forced to sisn confessions. 



91 



We note this brief documentary history to point out that human rights violations 
have not only persisted in Chiapas for quite a number of years but they have been 
publicly denounced by our organization and many others as well. In fact, many of the 
human rights violations that Amnesty International has documented in previous 
years were replicated by the Mexican army in the events following the armed 
uprising by the previously unknown group Zapatista Army of National Liberation 
(Ejercito Zapatista de Liberaci6n Nacional). 

Members of the US Congress have also expressed their concern about human 
rights m Mexico and Chiapas in particular. In the past two years, two letters have been 
sent by members of the House of Representatives to Mexican President Carlos Salinas 
de Gortari, both of whom mentioned concern over attacks against Ch'ol and Tzeltal 
Indian activists. The last letter, co-signed by sixty-three members of Congress and 
dated 1 November 1993, also expressed concern over the attacks carried out by state 
security agents in June of that same year. Letters have also been sent expressing 
concern over these recent events. Hearings, briefings and other informational forums 
have also been held during which testimony has been heard from, among others. 
Amnesty International, Americas Watch, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights as 
well as from Father Pablo Romo, director of the Chiapas-based Fray Bartolom6 de las 
Casas Center for Human Rights. 

It is important to highlight both the documentation established by Amnesty 
International as well as the actions by members of Congress to make clear that the 
human rights problems in Chiapas did not begin on 1 January 1994 when the 
Zapatista Army of National Liberation took control of a number of municipalities in 
Chiapas, including the second largest city, San Cristbbal de las Casas. The impunity 
granted to most of those responsible for long-lasting patterns of human rights 
violations is among the root causes of this uprising . 

ACTIVITIES OF THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MISSION TO CHUPAS 

The Amnesty International delegation that went to the state of Chiapas was 
composed of Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz, Amnesty International's Researcher for Mexico, 
Venezuela and Chile, and myself, Carlos Salinas, Government Program Officer for 
Latin America and the Caribbean in the Washington Office. .We arrived in Chiapas on 
Tuesday 18 January and departed on Saturday 22 January. Previous and following the 
stay in Chiapas, the delegation met with members of Mexican human rights 
organizations as well as Mexican government officials. 

This testimony is by no means the complete picture of the human rights 
situation in Chiapas and centers on the locations we were able to visit and the testimony 
of those we were able to interview. A more complete report will be made available at 
a future date. 

The delegation met with human rights monitors, lawyers, community leaders, 
health workers, journalists and other interested parties closely following developments 
including Bishop Samuel Ruiz and the local representative of the National Commission 
of Human Rights, Carlos Rodriguez Moreno. The delegation was able to visit the 
towns of Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de las Casas and Altamirano, as well as the 
Tzeltal Indian communities of Chalam del Carmen and Morelia, in the municipality of 
Altamirano. The delegation was also able to gain access to Cerro Hueco Penitentiary 
in Tuxtla Gutierrez. 

In Cerro Hueco Penitentiary, the delegation, with the assistance of two Mexican 
lawyers, a medical doctor, and two documenlalists, interviewed the seventy remaining 
male detainees as well as four female detainees, arrested since 1 January in connection 
to the upnsing. All pnsoners came from different villages and cities in Chiapas 
mcluding Ocosingo, Altamirano, San Cnstobal de las Casas, Morelia, Tenejapa, etc. 
Because most ot" those detained by the Mexican army reportedly ended up in Cerro 



92 



Hueco, the delegation was able to form a broad outline of the pattern of actions the 
Mexican army had engaged in. 

In brief, the delegation found that those interviewed in Cerro Hueco 
Penitentiary had been arbitrarily detained, had suffered torture and ill-treatment 
at the hands of members of the Mexican army, and had been denied the right to a 
fair trial. Many had been forced into signing confessions or posing for 
photographs holding weapons. The vast majority of detainees were indigenous, 
mostly representing the Tzotzil. Tzeltal. and Mame groups. Many had been 
subjected to methods of torture that Amnesty International had previously 
documented in Chiapas as well as the rest of Mexico including denial of food or 
water for prolonged periods of time, some for longer than 48 hours; bums with flame; 
forcible introduction of carbonated water up detainees' noses; ligatures so tight they cut 
into the wrists - one detainee seemed to have lost use of one of his hands; beatings and 
kicks; electric shocks; near-asphyxiation with a bag or through the submersion of the 
detainee's head into a vat of water; and constant death threats. Among the detainees 
were three municipal authorities from the city of Tenejapa and at least two minors. 

ARMY INCURSIONS INTO MORELIA AND CHALAM DEL CARMEN 

The visit to the indigenous peasant communities of Chalam del Carmen and 
Morelia revealed a pattern of abuse by the Mexican army which echoed similar 
incidents in June of 1993. According to numerous testimonies received at the 
community by the delegates as well as testimonies compiled at Cerro Hueco 
Penitentiary, on 7 January approximately at 6:30 a.m., 400 Mexican troops along with 
upwards of fifty armored personnel carriers (tanquetas) arrived in the village of Morelia 
where no armed confrontation has been reported. The soldiers forcibly broke into 
homes, destroying belongings which included ransacking the village hospital, and 
forcibly dragged the men out. The soldiers forced many of the women and children to 
lie in front of their homes for approximately an hour before forcing them indoors. The 
men were taken to the village square which is a concrete basketball court and forced the 
men to lie face down. Anyone that moved or raised their head was kicked on the head 
or on the side. Some of the men had their heads pounded into the concrete by the 
soldiers. The soldiers used threatening language during this and one is reported to have 
said, "Today is the day that we turn Morelia into an orphanage." The men were forced 
to lie immobilized until approximately 6:00 p.m. when the army left the area. 

Three of the villagers, two of whom are aged 65 and one, 40, were led that 
morning into the chapel where they were tortured from seven of that morning until 
noon. The men in the square heard their screams during this time and some saw them 
forced onto a military ambulance. This was the last time they were seen and they 
remain "disappeared." At least one of the men appeared to be bleeding profusely from 
the head and witnesses indicated that he had been cut on the face and the ears. One of 
the men's hands hung limply as if the wrist and/or arm had been broken. 

Some thirty-three additional villagers were called out from a list and forced into 
helicopters belonging to the Federal Attorney General's Office that afternoon, and 
taken to military installations in the town of Comit^. There they were interrogated 
and beaten, held blindfolded with their hands and feet tied, and had belongings taken, 
including their shoes. For example, two of the men whom I interviewed, aged 23 and 
29, in Cerro Hueco Penitentiary still bore scars that were consistent with their 
statements that they had been burned with some kind of flame-producing device. One 
bore scars on his chin while the other on one of his fingers. In total, these men had 
been denied water and food upwards of forty-eight hours and were forced to sign 
statements they could not read. After being held in these installations for 
approximately a day, they were driven to Tuxtla Gutierrez where the army turned them 
over to the custody of the Federal Attorney General's office. After interrogation by 



93 



this office, under death threats, they were led to Cerro Hueco Penitentiary. A group of 
eleven were released on 14 January while the others remained in custody at Cerro 
Hueco Penitentiary at the time of Amnesty International's visit. 

A few days later, on 13 January, the day after a cease-fire had been announced 
by the government, 200 soldiers accompanied by four armored personnel vehicles 
arrived in the community of Chalam del Carmen approximately at 10:00 a.m. Here 
too the soldiers forcibly introduced themselves into homes, breaking belongings, 
stealing food, and removed the men. In this incident, two men, a father aged 70 and a 
son aged 22, were brutally beaten by the soldiers. Apparently, the soldiers wanted to 
take them away but were apparently prevented by the presence of a delegation of 
members of the press, who were nevertheless prevented from seeing what the soldiers 
were doing to these two men. The men were forced by the soldiers to pose holding 
wooden weapons. 

PATTERNS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS 

These kinds of arbitrary detentions, extensive use of torture and beatings, 
death threats, the coercion leading to villagers posing with weapons, and other 
forms of abusive and illegal behavior by members of the army were echoed by 
testimonies heard from detainees at Cerro Hueco Penitentiary. For example, two 
of the men, aged 29 and 26, interviewed by the delegation that had been detained in 
Ocosingo on the 2nd and 3rd of January respectively had been apprehended for the sole 
misfortune of crossing paths with a group of soldiers. Both had been beaten, 
threatened with death, and denied food or water for periods exceeding forty-eight 
hours. The yellow ligature that had been used to tie their hands behind the back had 
cut into their skin and they still bore scars from that. Their shoes had also been taken 
from them. These last two details are important in confirming the reports of 
extrajudicial executions by the army. 

Although the Mexican armed forces have denied reports that five bodies 
found in Ocosingo by photographers on 4 January were the result of extrajudicial 
executions carried out by its members, circumstantial and forensic evidence seems 
to indicate army responsibility. The bodies were found lying face down, some still 
with the yellow ligatures, many with fresh scars consistent with wounds left by the 
ligatures, and were shoeless, matching descriptions of the methods used by the army 
during apprehension of those detained in that town, as described by those interviewed 
in Cerro Hueco. Added to this is evidence from independent forensic observers who 
have stated that three of the men had single gunshot wounds to the back of the head, 
one of them had two gunshot wounds to the back of the head, while one had a single 
gunshot wound to the side of the head, and were clearly extrajudicial executions. The 
wounds were between 9 1/2 and 12 millimeters and were consistent with a 9 mm. 
caliber pistol which reportedly had been recently introduced to the officer corps of the 
Mexican army. This evidence coupled with witnesses' accounts points to army 
responsibility for the killings and should be.clarified through a thorough and 
impartial investigation, establishing criminal responsibility for the actions, and 
leading to the prosecution of those found responsible. 

Two decomposed bodies were found outside of Las Margaritas on Monday 24 
January. Independent forensic observers confirmed that the men, aged 21 and 22, had 
died of multiple stab wounds. The observers also stated that the last time the two men 
had been seen alive had been in the custody of the Mexican army on 6 January. 

In summary, the delegation documented reports of at least 9 extrajudicial 
executions; 15 arbitrary killings, including the killing of a 10 year old child; 3 
cases of "disappearance" and serious concern about the possible "disappearance" 
of at kiist 6 others; and at least 100 cases of torture and ill-treatment, including at 
least 2 cases of possible rape of women in detention. We were able to ascertain 



81-474 0-94-4 



94 



that hundreds of arbitrary arrests of civilians had taken place and were able to 
document aerial attacks against the civilian population including strafing of 
villages around San Cristobal de las Casas. In addition, as has been stated above^ 
the delegation confirmed the fact that those still in detention in the Cerro Hueco 
Penitentiary had been denied a fair and impartial judicial proceeding. The 
delegation was not able to document extrajudicial executions or use of torture by 
the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. We did however call for the 
immediate and unconditional release of all its hostages, including former governor 
of Chiapas. Absal6n Castellanos. 

In all of the above cases, there has been total impunity for those responsible 
for the violations, continuing a long-standing pattern in Chiapas as well as the rest 
of Mexico. 

AJVINESTY ESfTERNATIONAL'S CONTINUING CONCERNS 

In addition to the cx)ncems outlined above, Amnesty International remains 
deeply concerned with at least 10 cases of death threats against human rights monitors, 
members of the press and members of the church including threats against the bishop of 
San Crist6bal de las Casas, Samuel Ruiz. We also remain concerned against continuing 
threats and harassment against twelve villagers of Morelia. 

Investigations into these reported threats should be immediately opened cmd those found 
responsible should be prosecuted. 

The delegation found lingering fears of a possible backlash by the Mexican 
security forces aimed at members of civil-rights movements, grass roots 
organizations, peasant indigenous leaders, as well as human rights workers. To 
ensure that such a "dirty war" is not unleashed. Amnesty International believes 
that there should be an end, once and for all, to the impunity that members of the 
Mexican state security apparatus enjoy. Time and time again. Amnesty International 
and other human rights organizations have called on the Mexican government to 
prosecute human rights violators. As we have pointed out on numerous occasions, 
including the two times we testified on Mexico before the US Congress in 1993, not 
one person has been indicted in Mexico under the 1986 Federal Law to Prevent and 
Punish Tonure, not in its original 1986 version or its modified 1992 version. We once 
again reiterate our previous statements that note that disciplinary actions undertaken 
within the Public Ministry and other bodies aimed at purported violators of human 
rights do not amount to prosecution. Prosecuting human rights violators is one of 
the most fundamental steps the Mexican government can take if it truly wants to 
end human rights violations. This way a very clear signal can be sent to those who 
engage in violations and affirm civil society. To those who have survived state 
violence, this would be a welcome measure while to those who have condoned, 
supported, instigated or participated in such actions, this would be a clear signal 
establishing the end to such practices. As Amnesty International has pointed out, 
Mexico is not lacking in laws or institutions that, if given political backing, could help 
alter for the better the panorama of human rights. But therein lies the challenge to the 
Mexican stale: does it have the sufficient political will to actually prosecute human 
rights violators? Chiapas is yet another test before the worid stage of the political will 
in Mexico to end human rights violations. 

Amnesty International is also concerned about a recently approved amnesty law. 
While we do not know how the law will be implemented, we fear that it could be 
manipulated to turn the de facto impunity that benefits human rights violators into a de 
jure situation, in effect giving an official seal of approval to the practice of impunity. 
Wc call on the Mexican government to ensure that the amnesty law is not used to 
preclude investigations or free from responsibility those who have engaged in 
huma n ri;; lits violations. As has been stated, impartial and thorough investigations 



95 



must be undertaken to establish responsibility for human rights violations. 
Responsibility must be established jmd judicial sanctions must be applied. 

Thorough and impartial investigations can only help clarify the recent events in 
Chiapas. A clear example comes to mind: the delegation encountered in the outskirts 
of Altamirano several charred government vehicles, one of which contained calcinated 
human remains. The delegation was able to ascertain this due to the fact that the head 
delegate, Morris Tidball-Binz, is a doctor with many years experience in forensic 
anthropology. The delegation encountered several explanations for these remains. The 
official line reportedly indicated that the remains belonged to members of the police 
while other versions insisted that they were the charred remains of the three who had 
been "disappeared" from Morelia. Other versions existed. What was clear however 
was that these remains had been left on the road and had not been investigated. We 
believe that an impartial investigation could do much to establish who those remains 
belong to. 

Finally, access to independent forensic observers should continue to be 
granted to autopsies, exhumations, and other forensic data. Access to those still 
detained in Cerro Hueco should be granted to human rights organizations. The 
Amnesty International delegation did finally have access to the Penitentiary of Cerro 
Hueco but not after difficulty. 

It is noteworthy that the Mexican authorities are now allowing access to 
communities not only to the press corps but to human rights monitors. The presence of 
human rights monitors and observers is an important component for preventing further 
human rights violations and for documenting what has in fact happened. Amnesty 
Internationa! believes that full respect for human rights is one of the basic pillars 
for the peaceful resolution of the present conflict . 

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE US SECTION OF AMNESTY 
INTERNATIONAL TO THE US GOVERNMENT 

Amnesty International USA recommends that the US government must actively 
encourage the lifting of the veil of impunity protecting those responsible for gross 
human nghis violations, not only in Mexico but in the rest of the world. As we 
testified in October of 1993 before this subcommittee, the US Embassy could play a 
constructive role in publicly encouraging the prosecution of Human rights violators. 

We also recommended that a thorough study be undertaken of the facts and 
figures released by both the National Commission of Human Rights as well as the 
Public Ministry on alleged prosecutions and other sanctions of violators. As we 
underscored, effective prosecutions by the Mexican government of human rights 
violators is a very good yardstick to assess the extent of the Mexican government's 
political will to end human rights violations. 

Furthermore we welcome Secretary Watson's recent remarks indicating a 
possible visit from Secretary Christopher to the region. We would hope that Secretary 
Christopher and members of his delegation would be able to discuss human rights 
concerns not only with appropriate government officials but also with representatives of 
human nghts non-governmental organizations, including representatives of the Fray 
Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights. 



96 



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Subooaaltt** on V«at«rn Eamiaphsra Xffalri 

Comaitts* on roraign Affairs 

0.8. Housa of Rapraaantatlvaa 

waablngton, D.C. 

Tabruary t, 1994 

News Network International la an international news and 
informntion agency which speciallzoa in reporting on religious 
liberty issaes, with a special focus on Orthodox, Roman Catholic 
and Protestant co.t munlties worldwide. 

Since Ita Inception in 1933, NNl haa monitored religiouely- 
motivated persecution In Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the 
American continent. In 1993, NNI filed nearly 400 reports 
chronicling challenges to the full expression of Christian faith 
and freedom of conscience in some 66 countries worldwide. 

Tta challsngaa to Husan Rigbta in Mazioo 

The January uprising by a previously unknown insurgency known 
as the Zapatistas in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas should 
come as no surpriio to those who have been monitoring conditions in 
Mexico over the psst decade. 

State and federal neglect, poverty, political cronyism, 
arbitrary law enforcement, petty politics, and cultural alienation 
over decades has fueled the present criais. 

In the early 1980b, when NNI first began to monitor human 
rights and religious liberty problems in southern Mexico, it was 
commonly known that Guatemalan insurgents were active in Chiapas. 
It was just a matter of time before their revolutionary fervor and 
ideology would inspire Chiapas' peasants to action. That the 
Zapatistas should have taken advantage of these circumstances, and 
appropriate the cjuse for social reform is not surprising. 

Nevertheless, this is not to say that some of the claims 
affirmed by the Zapatistas are not legitimate. In fact, according 
to Mexican attorney Abdias Tovilla Jaime of San Cristobal de las 
Caeas, a significant sector of the Chiapas indigenous population 
nyrpathizea with the Zapatista causa. 



97 



To bettar undarstand th« pr«««nt human rights climate in 
Chiapas, one need only go as far as three miles outside of San 
Cristobal de las Caeas, the largest city in the Chiapas highlands. 
There lies the refugee comir.unity of New Hope, which was founded by 
Tzotzil-speaking Chamula Indians who were forcibly evicted from 
their homes and lands beginning in the mid-19608, specifically for 
having converted to the Protestant Christian faith. 

Today, the number of exiled believers is believed to be well 
over 20,000. Of these, soir.e 1,000 are presently homeless. The 
rest have been relocated to new communities similar to that of New 
Hope, which have mushroomed across the countryside surrounding San 
?''^f ?^*^; ^^ recently as the last seven months of 1993. some 578 
individuals were forcibly evicted from their homes and escaped with 
little more than the clothes on their backs. Many of their homes 
were destroyed and their lands were confiscated by municipal 
leaders who made a mockery of the law because they knew they would 
suffer no retribution for their actions. 

The plight of the Protestants of Chiapas— one of the fastest 
growing sectors of the population, which could represent as much as 
50 percent of the total population of Chiapas-is complex but an 
effective model for gaining insights into the frustrations that 
contributed to the Zapatista uprising. ^^""b tnat 

on«r..^!^!?vi*^^^'' "i?"i=iP»l »"'l community leaders known as caciqvBs 
operate with impunity, within what is often referred to as 
traditional law as opposed to constitutional law. These caciques 
have a monopoly on the local economy, politics, and cultural li?e 
Their word is the law, and there is little will on the part of 
state and federal authorities to intervene on behalf of individuals 
and entire communities when they are victimized by the illeaal 
actions of these community leaders. ^ illegal 

^H ^ ^K^ ®^*!^?^?: municipal leaders and indigenous activists claim 
that when individuals within indigenous or traditional communities 
convert to Protestantism, they are upsetting the culturaHalues of 
such communities. But what are these so-called cultural values? 
For example, when the head of a family embraces the ProtesJan? 
taith, in many instances he stops consuming alcohol. Further ha 
Mrr%^° Bell his assigned quota of alcohol, wh?cA is expected of 
him by the local cacique who more than likely monopolizes the 
production of locally brewed alcoholic beverages? 

avera^r I^^I^lSi^? ll^l^TeTo'l'orl mSre^JJJSlStti^S^i; l^' 

annu^r? '^^" ^'-^^^^'^ ^^^'^^ "^ UquorMnrjnSlr^^t rboos? S^s'^ 
annual incone by a. much as 30 percent, according to expert 
observers. This creates not only an elite society within the 
traditional community, but robs caciques of a lucrative income 
caciques th.n clai. that the Protestants are upsetJiig tie cSuure. 

Another claim is that Protestants are not Darticicatina in 
cultural events anl festivals. The cultural tr?5Ition of 



98 



calabratlng faativals la in son* ways a synorotiatlo blanding of 
traditional and Catholic religloue observancee. Often, the line 
dividing what is a cultural or traditional obBervance and what is 
Roman Catholic rite is difficult to determine. Whatever the case 
may be, the reality is that these festivals often involve the 
consumption of large amounts of alcohol, the purchase of food and 
other beverages fcr the entire community, and the presentation of a 
new statue or other form of religious artifact to the local 
Catholic church. 

While Protestants say they are willing to have a limited 
participation in these essentially Christopagan festivals, they 
balk at the thought of purchasing alcohol and Catholic artifacts 
for these festival observations. 

Further, young men who traditionally are chosen to sponsor 
such festivals often must borrow the money from the local cacique 
to finance the celebrations. They must then purchase all festival 
supplies from the caciques who monopolize the local economy. Such 
debt may easily take the best years of a young man's life to repay. 

WJien Protestants resist such control, they are viewed as 
reactionary. In eome cases, caciques and municipal leaders have 
banned the expression of the Protestant faith in an attempt to 
discourage new believers. Evangelists have been run out of town 
under the threat cf death, homes of believers have been atoned and 
virtually dostroyed, Bible reading and listening to Christian 
gospel music has teen banned in some villages, and, ultimately, 
individuals who persist in fully expressing their faith are 
violently forced into exile with little or no intervention by state 
or federal authorities. 

As a result, arbitrary arrests, assault and battery, 
confiscation of personal property, and the practice of evictions or 
expulsiones continues unabated. Victims who seek justice at the 
state 2nd federal level are more often than not ignored. When 
informal hearings are granted by local prosecutors and covenants 
are signed, there is no power behind these to ensure that the 
agreements are enforced. 

On June 3, 1992, Presbyterian layman Helecio Gomez Vazquez, 
32, was shot to death on the outskirts of the village of Saltillo, 
reportedly becausia he had defied orders from local municipal 
leaders to relocate the Protestant congregation out of the village. 
Local authorities had threatened "to kill one evangelical man per 
week until they wiped them all out," according to one source who 
did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. 

After the local prosecutor failed to open an investigation 
into the murder, the state governor fired him. Nevertheless the 
suspects had plenty of time to floe in the two weeks that it took 
fcr a new prosecutor to be named. To date, no one has been 
convicted for the murder of Mr. Gomez, even though eyewitnesses 
have named likely suspects. 



99 



In April and May of 1993, th« Chlapa* 8tat« Congre«« was 
Bcheduled to debate the pervasive problem of unrestricted 
expulsions. In the days leading up to the hearing, then Chiapas 
Governor Patrocinlo Gonzalez Garrido alternately told congressional 
members that he would introduce a law requiring severe penalties 
for individuals who carry out expulsions, while tailing members of 
the press that he did not disagree with the practice of expulsions. 
The law was never introduced and the issue was tabled. 

Mexico has in place all the laws and mechanisms necessary for 
upholding human rights. What It lacXs Is the political will to 
enforce these lawe. As long as traditional law is viewed as 
parallel to constitutional law, individuals who do not conform to 
traditional or Indian cultural standards but do uphold 
constitutional lav will struggle in vain for justice. 

During the January uprising, Zapatista insurgents met 
unofficially with the exiled Protestants holed up in San 
Cristobal's Indian Affairs office and told them they were too 
patient In awaiting government action on their behalf. They urged 
the Protestants tc join their cause. 

Protestant leaders in Chiapas believe there is a 10-month 
window of opportunity for federal and state authorities to prove to 
the beleaguored indigenous population that they are serious about 
reform. (Regular elections are scheduled for later this year) . 
Already, key appointments to the interim state government, such as 
that of respected attorney Pablo Salazar Hendiguchia to Secretary 
of State, and Javier Lopez Moreno to interim governor, have 
encouraged many that perhaps this time justice will be served. 

However, if during this waiting period Issues of concern not 
only to the exiled Protestant community but to the indigenous 
population at larce are not heard and acted upon, it Is unlikely 
that the Zapatista rebellion will be quelled. Rather, it may only 
serve to encourage those standing on the sidelines to join in. 

Susutary 

The plight of the embattled Protestants of Chiapas are a model 
for understanding state and federal attitudes toward human rights 
and due process of the law. Where state authorities in Chiapas (as 
well as Puebla state) , have enforced the law, Protestants live in 
peace. But these isolated successes are vastly outnumbered by the 
thousands of cases — including unlawful arrests, assaults, rapes, 
forced exiles, and even hoir.lcldQ8--whlch remain unresolved. 

Advocates of hviman rights in |<exico must encourage authorities 
to enforce the lavs which already exist, and monitor the progress 
of cases filed by plaintiffs to snsure that justice is served. 
Further, efforts ty the newly appointed interim government to 
resolve the problem of religiously motivated persecution and 
expulsions should be encouraged; and individuals who have been 
illegally forced cff their lands should be allowed to return. 



100 



QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD — CHAIRMAN ROBERT G. TORRICELLI 

SUBMITTED TO DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

HEARING ON UPRISING IN CHIAPAS, MEXICO 

FEBRUARY 2, 1994 



1. Please provide specific details outlining the investigations 
undertaken by the Mexican government on human rights abuses in the 
State of Chiapas since January 1, 1994. Please address both the 
number of investigations that are underway, who is conducting the 
investigations, and the progress of the investigations. 

2. In encountering the Chiapas uprising, did Mexico use helicopters 
that were specifically provided by the United States for anti-drug 
purposes, as reported in the Washington Post on January 19? What 
measures has the United States taken on this issue, and what has 
been the Mexican response? 

3. There have been unconfirmed reports that the Mexican government 
approached the Administration about purchasing military equipment 
for use in putting down the rebellion. Is that true? What was the 
Administration's response? 

4. What is your evaluation of the performance and commitment of 
Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights in responding both to 
alleged human rights abuses in the immediate aftermath of the 
Chiapas uprising, and to alleged human rights abuses in Mexico in 
general? 



101 



Question for the Record Submitted to 

Assistant Secretary Alexander Watson 

By Chairman Torricelli 

Subcojnmittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs 

House Foreign Affairs Committee 

Fetiruaiy 2, 1994 



Quest 1 nn : 



1. Please provide specific details outlining the 
: nvescigacions undertaken by t-he Mexican government on human 
riqnts abuses in th« state of Chiapas since January 1, 1994. 
Please address both the nurrber of investigations that are 
underway, who is conductii:ig the investigations, and the 
progress of the investigations. 



An swer : , 

The Mexican Government becarr.e concerned early on during the 
Chiapas uprising over the potential for human rights abuses. 
On January 5, President Salinas instructed government officials 
in Chiapas "to respect the hurr,an rights of the civilian 
popu lat ion. " 

In our discussions with the Mexican Government on human 
rights abuses in Chiapas, the Mexicans have assured U3 they 
will mvesci'jdty fully an allegations of human rights abuses, 
prosecute suspected violators of hurr.an rights and punish those 

found qui ity . 

Currently, there are three separate and distinct Mexican 
Goverr.T.ent investigatory agencies conducting human rights 

inquiries in Chiapas: 



102 



1) The National Coiiumssion Tor Human Rights (CNDH) 
receives and investigates human rights complaints and, if 
warranted, recommends judicial actions by the appropriate 
qcvernir.enc bodies. Through February 3, the CNDH had 
leceived 197 co-pioints of human rights violations in 
Chiapas. Information has been collected on 115 cases; 82 
remain under active investigation. In addition, the CNDH 
had received 413 reports of missing persons in Chiapas, of 
which 307 cases hove been resolved and the remaining 106 
are under investigation. 

2) The Office of the Attorney General (Procuraduria 
General de la Republica, or PGR, by its Spanish title) acta 
upon recorTyr.enddticns from t-.he CNDH as well as conducts its 
own inveacigatior.s . 

3) I'he Otfice cf the Attorney General for Military 
•Justice has pledged to investigate abuse charges against 
military perso.^.nei. The Mexican military announced it 
would accept CNDH recommendations and sanction individuals 
found responsible for human rights violations. The Mexican 
army has received 126 complaints of alleged human rights 
abuses. Eighty individual soldiers have been investigated 
thus far; forty have been absolved of culpability. 



103 



Quest lun : 

2. In encountering the Chiapas uprising, did Mexico use 
helicopters that were specifically provided by the United 
States for anti-drug purposes, as reported in the Washington 
Post on January 19? what measures has the United States taken 
on this issue, and what has been the Mexican response? 



Answer : 

In recent years, the United States Government has provided 
a number of helicopters to Mexico, through leases and sales, 
for it3 counternarcQtics program. Terms of those transfers 
■5er.erally restrict the use of the helicopters to counter- 
narcotics activities. SoT.f; 30-35 helicopters operated by the 
Mexican Attorney General's office (PGR), including 16 
helicopters provided by the United States Government for 
ccunrernarcot ics purposes, were deployed to Chiapas under the 
opcrot-onal control of the Mexican military. 

Upon learning that USG-supplied helicopters were being used 
in Chiapas, our Er.fcassy reviewed with the Government of Mexico 
Che restrictions on the helicopters' use and requested an 
explanation. Senior officials assured our Embassy that the 
helicopters were used in a logistical, non-combat support role. 

Subsequent to the E.T.bassy's inquiry, the Governraent of 
Mpiico ordered the USG-ptovided helicopters withdrawn from 
service in Chiapas. 



104 



Quest ion : 

3. There have been unconfirmed reports that the Mexican 
government approached the Ad.Tinistr at ion about purchasing 
military equipment for use in putting down the rebellion. Is 
that true? What was the Administration's response? 



Answer : 

At no time during the fignting in Cliiapas (that is, from 
the EZLN attacks an January L until the Mexican government's 
unilateral ceasefire on January 12) did the Government of 
Mexico opproach the United States Government about obtaining 
military equipment -or use in putting down the rebellion. It 
is our understanding that the Mexican governm.ent purchased from 
U.S. stocks military-type rations (MREs, or "Meals Ready to 
EaC) for ccnsu.-npt : en by troops assigned to Chiapas. 

Subseq.;er.t to the ceasefire, the GovernjT.ent of Mesico 
ipuviested price and availability on helicopters, ordnance, and 
other military .'-.ardvore from the United States Government. 
Price and availablity infcr.ration is being compiled and will be 
provided to the Mexicsn Ccveiiunent. However, the requests from 
the Government of Mexico did not constitute requests to 
purchase nor does our providing the information imply that 
purchases of military equipment are in process. 



105 



Question : 

4. Wf.at is your evaluation of the performance and commitment 
of Mexico's Natior.al Comrnission on Human Rights in responding 
both to alleged hurr.an rights abuses in the immediate aftermath 
of the Chiapas uprising, and to alleged human rights abuses in 
Mexico in general? 



Ansve r : 

Since its credCion in 1990, the National Commission for 
Human Rights (CNDH by its Spanish acronym) has built a solid 
and lespected record cf investigating human rights abuses, 
especially abuses committed by Mexican government officials. 
in the p.^st two years alone, as a result of CNDH 
recQrj7.endations to the Office of the Attorney General, 20 
Mexican governrr.ent officials were tried and convicted for abuse 
and jailed for terrs averaging more than 5 years. Additional 
C3se2 are currently m the trial stdge. Hundreds of other 
goverr.T.ent officials wete the subjects of administrative 
disciplinary actions pursuant to CNDH recommendations. 

Although the cndh makes non-binding recommendations for 
judicial or administrative actions following its 
i nvesi- ly at ions , tr.e Ccrrr-.i ssion is aggressive in seeing its 
leccT-endaticns fully .inforced. Furthermore, in 1993, the CNDH 
established statp humsn rights commissions in the 30 states and 
federal district of Mexico. 



106 



The CNDH's co.imii t.-nent to investigating human rights abuses 
in Chia^ds is also stiong. Beginning in the early days of the 
uprising, the CNDH has maintained a Learn of personnel in 
Chiapas to receive and act upon abuse and missing person 
complaints. The Comini ss ion has assisted many of the more than 
140 non-governmental liuaian rights organizations which have sent 
personnel to Chiapas and, in general, that liaison function has 
progressed without difficulty. 

The Governr.ent ot .Mexico has taken concrete steps to ensure 
respect for human rights in Chiapas. The appointment of 
renowned human rights advocate Jorge Carpizo as Minister of 
inr-^rior and of former Mexico City mayor Manuel Camacho as 
Peace Commissioner are clear signs of the government's 
commitment to human rights, peace and reconciliation. The 
Xezicans nave assured us that they will pursue fully the 
allegations of human rights abuses in Chiapas and punish those 
found guilty of such afcjses. In pursuing that goal, we believe 
the CNDH, tc;--ether with other Governm.ent of Mexico agencies, is 
capoble cf fulfilling its responsibilities. 



107 







aTXTtnurr or Kimrgao r^ xpvocATai roa guxMr RigOTS 



IKXBDIATB RaiBXflKt 

yOB PUHTHER nrrORXATIOJII 



rebruarr 2, 1994 

B&xab 0«Coss« (12-341'3302 



MIFTSSOTA ?lDVOC3MB8 POR HUXAK RIGHTS CBOM 
DfB TO HTJXXM SICHTB VICJLXT'IONS lU CBIAPX*! 

a?T>oRTs o» ffuxxjr rzohts ihvestigatiok 

Mirmesota A-lvocatea for Hueati Rights documented s«vore human 
ricjht? violations during its investigation in tha Mexican 
state of Chiipas from January 12 to January 22, 1994. Theeo 
abuses include arbitrary and suanary executions, torturt, 
arbitrary »nd incomnunlcado detmtiona, indlscriadnato 
bon-.binq of civilian populations, »nd th« Lntiaidation o£ 
civilians, "iinan rights advocates and church workers. 
Mlrneoota A.ivocates urges that those responsible for huian 
rights vioUtione mist be preeecjted by the coapattnt 
authorities, «nd that these violations must cease. 

^ CLtXXTB op 71Aa 

Minnesota A'ivocates' efforts to investigate hunan rights 
ooncorna vara hnppered by the reluctance of many victias to 
publicly d»r.(;unce abuses. Several victims of serious huaan 
rights violacior.s expresoed their fear of retaliation and 
even .assassir.ation by the Mexican military or the Zapatista 
Arrv cf National Liberation (the "EZLN") and only provided 
t'5stirtony to Minnesota Advocates under a grant of 
conf identl,ii:ty. Individuals granted confidentiality 
charged the Vr^xican military with arbitrary executions, 
arbitrAr/ detentions, incoaaunicado detentions, torture and 
the intiridai ion of hunan rights advocates. The EZUf was 
•accused of -uing death threats to coerce participation in 
its activities. The charges against the Mexican military 
ind tn.-! EZLV -are corroborated by independent ttdtimony. 

HTKAJJ RICHT8 VIOLATIONS IM CHTATAfi SINCB JAKtJXRY 1, 1994 
As part of its ongoing human rights work in Mexico, 
Minnesota Advocates offers the following preliminary 
findings of hj=an rights abuses cccunitted in Chiapas since 
January i, 19^4. 

Arbitrary and Suaaary HxecrutioBS 

Hlnr.eocts Advccatos received testiiony regarding suanary and 
.Trbitrary •xerjtlons carried out by the Mexican adlitary. 
The acst pro^tinant case of sumnary execution was that of 
r'.ve i rdivid'ie Ig roportodly executed by the Mexican military 
LH the Occsi.-qo -aricetplace on January 2, X994. 



108 



Independant forensic apeciallita who reviewed the governaent'i 
autopsy reports In that ca«e concluded that the individuals had 
been d«tain«d and th«n executed. 

Minnesota Advocator? docrajnented nuaerous casts of arbitrary 
executions comeitted by members of the Mexican anned forces. The 
most serious of thaaa cases involved the killina of at least 11 
individuals at the municipal I.M.S.S. Hospital in Ocosingo on 
January 4, 1994. Minnesota Advocates has reviewed testimony 
that an unprovoked attack by the nilitary on the hospital 
resulted in the death Of 11 individuals, their burial in a coaaon 
grave and the arbitrary detentions of 9 others. 

Minnesota Advocates finds the conclusions of the National Huaan 
Riyhts Commission ( t;ho "CNDH") to be inconsistent with the 
ir.dopendent testino;iy in this case. The CNDH exhUBftd the grave 
and f:oncluded that "he corpses showed no sign of "suLnmary 
execution" and that the clothes of 10 of t:he cadavers evidenced 
EZLiV r.eirbership. M.inn«sota Advocates urges that the CNDH and 
other governmental agencies invite the independent confirmation 
of autopsy result-s by non-governmental specialists. 

Minnesota Advocates received reports of the arbitrary executions 
by the Mexican nilit-ary of at least five unarmed civilians in 
Ozosingo. Kinne90t^ Advocates also heard confidential testiaony 
rog.-irding an unprovcXed attack bY the Mexican armed forces on a 
civilian vehicle which resulted in deaths. maj£R is unable to 
ri2veal any further infoncation about this case at this time. 

Torture 

Several individuals detained by the Mexican military after 
January 1, 1994 reported suffering tortvire. The detainees 
detailed incidents cf nock executions, the application of 
electric shocks, beatings, and being deprived of food and water 
for up to three days while intarrogaters demanded adaissions of 
involveaent with the EZLN or knowledge of the EZLN. 

Axbitrary lad Incoanonicado Deteatloas 

Minnesota Advocates received reports of over 100 arbitrary 
detentions occurring since January 1, 1994. These detentions 
tcok place in the regions of San Crist6bal da las Cases, Oxchuc, 
Hulxt.in, Ocoaingo, Altamirano, Morelia, and Las Margaritas. 

Military control of 3everal coinnunities in the area of Altamirano 
cruat'jd a situation of da facto detention for huhdrads of 
individuals. Entire populations were restricted by the Mexican 
nilitnry fron leaving their comaunity, and from seeking food, 
w^ter and wood (as cooking fuel) from the local area. This 
situation persisted until at least January 23, 1994. 



109 



Minnesota Advocates r«c«iv©d ••veral r«pcrtB of inconnnunicado 
d«t«ntion« by th« Kaxic«n military. Soa« of thasa detentions 
laetGd b€tva«n one and three days, while information regarding 
other individuals detained by th« ar«ed forc«« is still not 
available up to 25 days following their arrests. 

The Zapatista Arwy of National Liberation has kidnapped several 
individuals and held theo ir.coianunicado. The EZIJ? has held the 
fonner governor of Chiapas, Ahaal6n Caatellanos for over four 
weeks and he was only recently permitted contact with the press. 

rndiscrlBinate Bombing of Civilian Populations 

Hlnr.osota Ad\'ocates docuEcnted the indiscriminate bombing and 
shelling of civilian populations by the Mexican military. San 
Antonio d« Ics Bano3 and Los Corralitos near San Cristibal de las 
Casas were bonibed, ind Altamirano, Xibaquil and Morelia in the 
region of Altaniran5 Were shelled. Several instances of shslllng 
in the Altamirano area occurred after the declaration of a 
governffiGnt cease-fire. Many residents of these communitiei were 
displaced and continue to be fearful of returning to their hoices. 

inttaidation aDd Haraasaent of Civilians, Hujaan Rights Advocatss 
and the Catholic Cbuxob 

The Zapatiata Army of National Liberation has reportedly issuad 
de<ith threats to ccarce individuals into joining the 22LN. 
Several incUviduale described leaving tbair communities and 
seeking refuge elsevtisre due to thase threats. 

Hur.an righto advocates have suffered direct and indirect 
intimidations in Chiapas, On January 14 the local mayor and PR! 
l«2ader organized a narch in Ocoaingo that urged the removal of 
human rights advocates from the city. Huaan rights advocates in 
Chiapas have reported governnent surveillance of their 
activities. In denying all charges of h'oman rights violations by 
the military on January 15, the Secretary of National Defense 
characterized natioral and international human rights groups as 
aprudding false infcraaticn "based on simple rumors." 

The catholic Church has also been the target of harassment. 
Government stateincnts in the first days of the conflict accused 
the Diocese of San Cristobal of assisting the szLN with radio 
coiinunication. Ko foundation has been dcnonstrated for these 
accurations. :n Altaairano, the Catholic hospital was videotaped 
by a .military patrol and a priest reluctantly agreed to the 
placfp.nent of r-oldiers in the church's bell-tower. 



no 



HBSOLUTIOM or TOM rOXAll RiOHT* CRIBia 

MinneflOta Xdvooates for Human Pight* i« extrea^ly concerned by 
it3 preliminary findings of severe human rights abuses in th« 
Chiapas conflict, particularly the docvtaentation of summary and 
arbitrary executions. Minnesota Advocates calls on the Mexican 
govern-ent and the LZLN to seek a peaceful resolution to the 
conflict and to ceace all human rights abuses. 

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights also urges that the 
resolution cf the hunan rights crisis in Chiapas nust remedy the 
iapunity with which hujnan rights abuses have been tolerated in 
Chiapas. These responsible for human rights violations committed 
prior to January 1, 1594 and those couaaitted in the aftermath of 
the EZLN conflict aust be held accountable for thair actions by 
the cocpetent authorities. Governaent prosecutors should charge 
huEon rightG violators to the full extent of the law. (While the 
National Hu.T.an Rights Cosusission has b^en given great proainence 
in this crisis, it coes not have the authority to mandate 
coapliance with its recoaoaendations. ) 

Minnesota Advocates encourages the Mexican govemaent to ensure 
that detainees are afforded every opportunity to receive visits 
froa huaan rights observers and other advocates, and that no 
detainea be held inrommunicado. This would be a dramatic 
ir.prove=pnt to the tightly controlled access to the prisons 
encountered by Minnesota Advocates. Independent observations of 
autopsies or confirmation of autopsy results s/ill also contribute 
to a clirate of greater respect for human rights. 



For aore inforTnation, please contact; Sarah DeCosse, at 612-341- 
3302, fax 612-341-2971. Minnesota Advocates reportSJ Conqnaat 
ccntinuedj Disregard for Eunan and Indigenous Rights in the 
Mexican State of Chiapas (Oct 1992, $10.00) and Civilians at 
RisX: Military and Palice Abuses in the Kexieaa Countryside (Aug 
1993, $5.00) ate available from: Minnesota Advocates for Huran 
Ris'^its, 400 ;;ocond A/«nue South, /1050, Minneapolis, MN, 55401. 



Ill 



Washington Office on Latin America 

' '0 VAP^LjftND AVENUE NE '^AShiNG'CN OC 20002 5696 
•?• ??2' S44 8045 Pat i202i 546 5288 



February 2. 1994 



The Honorable Roben G. Toncelii 

Chairman 

Subcomminee on Western Hemjsphere Affairs 

United Sutes House of Reprcsentaovcs 

Dear Chairman Toncelii: 

My cxingratulaDons to you for convening today's important and timely hearing on the 
upnsing in Chiapas and democratizaDon in Mejuco. Genuine democracy and respea for hunian 
nghis are the only viable paths for Mexico to take if the country is to deal effectively with the 
acute problems of poverty and abuse thai underLe the conflict: The agenda for the hearing 
appropnately links the fighting to its root causes. 

Mr. Chairman, the Zapatisu rebellion has profoundly changed Mexican polidcs. The 
sianJing violence underscores both long-neglected social needs and the urgency of political 
reform. The presidential election of August 21, 1994 will take place m the aftermath of 
NAFTA's passage and in the context of the revolt. An honest, fair contest can help pave the 
u,ay for a more peaceful, democranc future. A repeat of past patterns of skewed compeution 
and vote fraud could unleash greater conflict and bloodshed. 

The agreement signed on January 27 by Mexico's major political parties comnuis the 
Salinas government, m effect, to conducting a free and fair election this year. Opposiuon parties 
and independent elecDon monitors from Mexican civil society are hopeful, but skepocal. In the 
past, reforms agreed to on paper have not been adhered to in practice. The intemanonal 
community, including the U.S. Congress can contribute to the fairness and credibility of the 
elecuon by carefully monitonng this agreement and by insisting on its full implementation. 

The Washington Office on Lann Amenca (WOLA) will be publishing a series of reports 
this year on the electoral process m Mexico. I respectfully ask that the first repon. The 
Elecnon in Yucauin, Mexico: Summary and Conclusions of Citizen Observers, be included in 
the record of this hearing. This repon documents the widespread problems observed by a non- 
panisan coaliuon of Mexican non-governmental organizations who monitored the gubernatorial 
ar.d municipal elecuons in the state of Yucatin m November, 1993. Protest m response to the 
irrcgulanues and fraudulent pracDces descnbedin the report ultimately forced the niling party 
to reverse the official results and to concede the mayoralty of the state capital to its conservanve 
opposiuon. Nevenheiess. the Yucatin election was broadly considered a setback to democracy 
and. as the ciuzen observers say in the report, 'an ominous signal for the presidenual elecuon 
of 199-1 • 

Mr. Chairman. 1 hope >ou find the report useful and informative. We look forward to 
working with yourself and other members of the Subcommittee to help ensure that the 
democrauc process is respected in Mexico m 1994. 



Sincerely yours. 



George R. Vickers 
Executive Director 



112 

THE ELECTIONS IN YUCATAN, MEXICO: 

Summary and Conclusions of Citizen Observers 

M6rida, Yucatin, November 28, 1993 



A. Introduction 

B. Pr&-EIectoral Conditiais 

1. Electoral Legislation 

2. Mass Media 

3. Voter Registry 

C. Election Day Results 

1 . Irregularities Observed 

2. Results of the Quick Count 

D. Final Observations 



Frente Cfvico Familiar 

Mujeres Yucatecas en Lucha por la Democricia 

Grupo Indignacidn 

With the support of: 

Convergencia Mexicana de Organisraos Civiles por la Deniocracia (Convergencia) 
Movimiento Ciudadano para la Deraocrlcia (MCD) 



Other organizations taking part in the observation process: Acad^mia Mexicana de Derechos 
Humanos; Acuerdo Nacional por la Democrlcia; Centro Nacional de Comunicacidn Social 
Centre Antonio de Montesinos; Consejo para la Democrlcia; Desarrollo Humano Integral, A.C. 
Ceniro Miguel Agustin Pro Derechos Humanos; Comit^ de Derechos Humanos de Tabasco 
Centro de Derechos Indfgenas; Frente Cfvico de Chetumal; Frente Cfvico Potosino; Fundaci6n 
Lazaro Clrdenas; Iniciativa Joven por la Democrlcia; Institute Superior de Cultura Democrltica; 
Mujeres en Lucha por la Democrlcia. 



113 



A. Introduction 

On November 28, 1993, some 600 Mexican citizens participated in the observation of 
elections for governor, state representatives and municipal presidents in the southeastern state 
of Yucatin. Five hundred and thirty of these were citizens of this state organized by three local 
organizations, the Frente Cfvico Familiar (Civic Family Front), Mujeres Yucatecas en Lucha 
por la Democracia (Yucatan Women in Struggle for Democracy) and the human rights group, 
Indignacidn. The rest of the observers were from out-of-state. 

The principal goal of this group was to monitor the electoral process in Yucatin, 
independently of political parties and the government, and to evaluate whether this process 
met with the standards of a modem political democracy (freedom, fair and equal conditions 
for participation in the process, reliability of the vote count, etc.). Whereas clean elections 
are essential requirements for democracy, there are other requirements as well. Thus, 
observation of the process in Yucatln began months before the election day. Before presenting 
the data from the day of the election, and the results of the quick count we conducted, this report 
wiU summarize the results of studies done in advance, which should help to explain what 
occurred. The following is a synthesis of the principal findings of this independent group. The 
complete reports in Spanish are available on request. 

B, Pre-Electoral Conditions 

1. Electoral Legislation 

We reviewed the state electoral code of Yucatin promulgated on April 5, 1993 and found 
that it does not provide an adequate legal framework for the exercise of political rights. An 
analysis of the code showed the following: 

(a) Electoral bodies are biased, the executive branch having too much influence; 

(b) The electoral tribunal is purely administrative and lacks complete jurisdiction; 

(c) Sanctions for those who violate the law are insufficient; 

(d) Political parties have the exclusive right to register candidates; 

(e) The definition of electoral geographical divisions is left open to interpretation; 

(0 Contending parties are not guaranteed constant and timely access to the electoral 

registry. 

Furthermore, a number of violations of the electoral code were committed, among them: 

(a) The State Electoral Council authorized its President to provide public financing for 
four parties that were not in compliance with the requirements of Articles 19, 25 and 56 
of the electoral code. 



114 



(b) The electoral bodies began to function on July 15, in violation of the electoral code. 

Considering that the Electoral Code of the state of Yucatan is in violation of the political 
rights of the citizens of the state, and given the non-existence of national institutions for citizens' 
appeals, the Frente Cfvico Familiar has presented a formal complaint before the Inter-American 
Commission on Human Rights. Civic organizations from other parts of Mexico are currently 
studying mechanisms to support this complaint. 

2. Mass media 

Democracy requires voting citizens to be conscious and well informed. This places a 
great responsibility on the media to provide objective and balanced information and to give equal 
access to the different contenders. In order to judge to what extent the media in Yucatin 
fulfilled this responsibility, the Frente Cfvico Familiar and the Academia Mexicana de Derechos 
Humanos (Mexican Academy of Human Rights) analyzed the coverage of two television channels 
and three newspapers. 

(a) Television 

An analysis was done of the programming on Channel 13 (state-owned) and Charmel 3 
(privately-owned) from November I to November 6. The nudn conclusion of this report was 
that the ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and its candidates received privileged 
coverage. The news programs during this period, gave thirty-four minutes, thirty-one seconds 
of coverage to the PRI. The PAN (National Action Party) was given seven minutes, thirteen 
seconds, and all other parties together were allotted seventeen minutes, fifty-five seconds. As 
a result, we conclude that television in Yucatin did not provide balanced information or a free 
and equitable presentation of the political alternatives. 

This sort of unequal coverage is harmful to democracy. When television is not 
objective it violates the viewers' rights. It creates resentment among the parties who were 
discriminated against. It feeds the idea that there is no such thing as fair play and 
constitutes one of many vicious circles that damages the credibility of elections and public 
institutions. 

Considering that this behavior violates the right to information of the people of Yucatin 
(guaranteed in the Federal Constitution, but without the necessary legislation to be enforced), 
the Frente Cfvico Familiar, supported by other national organizations, is studying the possibility 
of filing a complaint to the State Human Rights Commission. If this falls outside the jurisdiction 
of the State Human Rights Commission, the case will be brought to the National Human Rights 
Commission. If this body does not address the problem, the group will conclude that domestic 
recourse does not exist and will appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

(b) Newspapers 

An analysis was done of 659 articles from the newspapers El Diario de Yucatdn, For 
Eisto and Novedades from September 21 to November 16, 1993. The PRI received the greatest 
number of mentions, but an excessive coverage in favor of this party was not found. The PAN 



115 



received equivalent coverage. In general terms, the coverage of the electoral process by the 
three major newspapers in Yucatin was relatively balanced and abundant. In spite of occasional 
excesses, the newspapen contributed to the abiUty of their readers to cast an informed vote. 

3. Voter Registry 

Convergencia (the Convergence of Civil Organizations for Democracy) and the Movimiento 
Ciudadano por la Democracia (Citizens' Movement for Democracy) conducted a joint study of 
the official voter registry and the original voter registration lists. 

The research was based entirely on official public lists and documents. It did not include 
field studies. Its purpose was to compare, on a municipal level, the percentages of coverage and 
the increase in the size of the voter registry and the original voter registration lists between 1991 
and 1993. The purpose of the study was to gain a sense of the reliability of the lists. Among 
the most worrisome aspects are the following: 

a) In rural areas, there were more names on the official registry than in the original voter 
registration lists in 66 municipalities. There were more voter I.D. cards than there were 
names on the official registry in 35 municipalities; 

b) In urban areas, there were also some possible cases of an inflated registry. In the 
capital city of Mdrida, for example, the official registry had increased by 26.19% 
whereas the voting age population (VAP) had increased by only 7.65%; 

c) In two urban municipalities, Umin and Kanasin, the official voter registration list was 
unusually small; 

d) Ninety thousand registered voters were not given their voter I.D.'s. This phenomenon 
was concentrated in urban areas (53,(X)0 in Merida, and 15,000 in the cities of Tizimfn, 
Umln, Valladolid and Kanasin). 

In summary, it seems there was a worrisome selectivity at work. We would have liked to 
have been able to verify these results with field work, but this was impossible because electoral 
officials did not provide an official voter registry until several days (November 10) before the 
election. When we published these results prior to election day, we began a dialogue with a 
representative of the Federal Electoral Institute, who expressed his disagreement with our 
methodology. In order to pursue this delicate matter further, we scheduled various meetings to 
request access to some of the lists used on election day. 



C. Election Day Results 

On election day we observed 246 polling places, scientifically selected by the Rosenbluth 
Foundation. This provided us with a sample which enabled us to perform a quick count, and 
thus gave us an overall sense of what happened on election day. In addition to the 250-odd 
stationary observers, there were also 70 roving observers distributed throughout the entire state, 



116 



together with a support team of dozens of persons who served as coordinators, messengers and 
logistical support. 

1. Irregularities Observed 

Throughout election day, the observers filled out four forms, whose information we used 
to prepare the attached table (see Annex 1), showing the number of irregularities detected in the 
246 polling places, representing some 25,000 voters. The following is some of what appears 

in the table: 

a) In 115 of the 246 polling sites, voter secrecy was violated; 

b) Ten ballots boxes were reportedly emptied, then re-filled; 

c) Voters were harassed at 101 polling sites; 

d) Incidents were reported at 67 polling sites at the time of the vote coimt; 

e) Two hundred and ninety-two persons were allowed to vote without voter I.D.'s; 

Two hundred and forty-nine persons were not allowed to vote because they were not 
listed on the voter registry. 

2. Results of the Quick Count 

At 8 p.m. on Monday, November 29, on the basis of 90% of the sample, we were able 
to predict that the PRI candidate for governor would win with 57% of the vote, and that the 
PAN candidate would obtain 38.8%. In the case of the municipal presidency of M6rida, the 
tendency was the opposite: the PAN had received 50.46% and the PRI 47.18%. 

D. Final Observations 

On balance, we found the electoral process in Yucatin to be unsatisfactory due to the 
following reasons: 

a) The electoral law, the voter registry and the behavior of the television networks did 
not provide an atmosphere conducive to fair and equal participation by all contending 

parties; 

b) On election day, testimonies and reports from the observers confirmed this unequal 
panorama. There were places where the process went smoothly and in which the 
irregularities were minor. In other places, however, violations of political rights 
reached alarming proportions. There was violence in various municipalities. In the 
city of Progreso, there was clear collusion between municipal officials and 
representatives of the PRI. In the city of Buctzotz a ballot box was stolen. There is 
evidence in Sucil that one ballot box was emptied, and refilled. In polling site 796-B, the 



117 



voter registration list included 817 people. When the votes from this poll were counted, 
there was an excessive numt>er of votes in favor of the candidates for governor, as these 
numbers show: 



EEI EAN Ifilal 



Municipal president 


227 


116 


343 


Representative 


233 


115 


348 


Governor 


685 


337 


1022 



The seriousness of the irregularities in some regions of the state, and the aggressive and 
open way in which they were committed was bewildering to the observers. This feeling 
was heightened when on the afternoon of the elections a blackout occurred during the 
moment of the vote count, leaving various regions of the state without electricity. We 
have testimonies of possible violations that may have been committed during that period. 

The participating organizations have been involved in observing state elections since 
1991. The general consensus is that there was a deterioration in the reliability of 
elections in Mexico, as observed over the past two years. If so, it sends an ominous 
signal for the presidential elections of 1994, since election day in Yucatdn took place 
the same day that the PRI announced the name of its presidential candidate. 

c) There was open hostility towards observers in some regions of the state, as well as 
physical aggression in the town of Sacabi. Two state-owned media outiets, the radio 
station "Solidaridad" and TV Channel 13 openly criticized and disqualified our work. 

d) It is impossible - and falls beyond our mandate - to determine what affect these 
irregularities and violations had on the results of the elections. 

In spite of these limitations and without judging the legality of the elections — a matter 
which belongs exclusively to the electoral officials — we conclude that the Yucatin elections 
of November 28, 1993 were not held under conditions that permitted parties to compete on 
an equal basis and did not conform to universal standards of reliability. 



118 



Annex 1 

SELECTED rRREGULARITIES AT POLLS ON ELECTION DAY 

YUCATAN 



VOTERS 


1 
NO ID 


2 
TRANS. 


3 
STUFF. 


4 

NOT 
SECRET 


5 
HARASS. 


6 

mCIDEN 


22,871 


292 


2111 


10 


115 


101 


67 



Explanation: 

This Table reports irregularities documentated by the civilian observers on election day in the 
state of Yucatin, November 28, 1993. We include them as a sample of the contents in the 
complete Report. The following is an explanation of the categories: 

1. Persons who voted without presenting their voter ID cards. This is prohibited by the 
Electoral Code. 

2. This involves persons who were physically taken to the polling place to vote. In Mexico, 
this well known practice is defined as the acarreo (herded together and transported to a polling 
place). 

3. This category refers to how many ballot boxes were stuffed with extra votes. In Mexico, 
ballots are hand marked and personally deposited in the ballot box. The fraudulent practice of 
relleno, stuffing the urns, occurs either at the moment of casting one's vote or before the 
election starts. 

4. This category refers to the polls where there was a violation of the secrecy of the ballot. 

5. Harassment refers to any kind of psychological or physical pressures that were experienced 
by the voter at the time of casting his^/her ballot. Data refers to number of polls where persons 
were harassed. 



6. This category refers to the number of polls where there were abnormal incidents at the 
moment of the vote count. In Mexico, since there is a hand count and registry of each 
individual ballot, there is room for any number of fraudulent practices in this area. 



119 



Center For Human Rights J^gal Action 
Centro Para La Accion Legal en Derechos Humanos 

1601 Connecticut Avenue, NW #612 = Washington, DC 20009 a U.S.A. 

Tel: (202) 265-8712 Fax: (202) 483-6730 

Peacenet: CHRLA 

February 2, 1994 

House of Representatives 

Committee on Foreign Affairs 

Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs 
705 O'neill House office Building 
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Members of the Subcommittee and Staff, 

It is our distinct pleasure to submit the following Petition 
for the record of the important Hearing you are convening today. 
As I explained to your staff by phone, this Petition, which regards 
the situation in Chiapas, Mexico, has been submitted to the Inter- 
American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American 
States against the United States of Mexico. Oral argument was made 
before the Commission on January 28, 1994 by Sara Rios, staff 
attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, and I. 

The Petition was also signed and supported by The Lowenstein 
International Human Rights Clinic of Yale Law School, Deborah Anker 
of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Program, the National 
Lawyers Guild and the Central American Solidarity Association. 
These groups also authorized the submission of the Petition to the 
Subcommittee. The attached petition with be supplemented by a 
report drafted by a Delegation investigation sponsored by the 
Center for Human Rights Legal Action and the Ecumenical Program on 
Central America which will be taking place from February 4th 
through the 11th of this year. We would be glad to apprise you of 
further developments as reported by the Delegation. 

We hope that the information contained in the attached 
Petition will be of use to the Subcommittee. If you would like any 
further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank 
you for your attention in this matter of grave concern. 




Tilliam Qlark Harrell 
Staff Attorney 

/ 



120 



ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES 
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS 
WASHINGTON, D.C. 



In the Matter of: 

Civilian Population of Chiapas; 

-and- 
Members of the Ejercito Zapatista 
de Liberacion Nacional who have 
laid dovm their weapons or been 
placed hors de combat by sickness, 
wounds, detention, or any 
other cause 

(Mexico) 



Case No, 



PETITION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO awn 
REQUEST FOR PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AND ON-SITe V^SIT BY 
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMjST RIGHTS 



Introduction 
Petitioners hereby present this petition on behalf of- « ^ ^k 

disappearances, t "ture, s™ary e,<ecutiSns^Ind"o?h,^^ H bombings, 
international nature, .ooh as that now taKTn","pSe fn cS^i.^lT. 



121 



Summary of Relief Requested 
Petitioners pray for the following relief: 

That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights request the 
government of Mexico to adopt preventive measures to preserve the 
life, personal integrity, liberty and all other rights of the 
residents of Chiapas, including captured combatants or those placed 
hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause- 




and Art. 44(2) of the Regulations of the Commission; 



That the Inter-American Commission prepare a special report 
regarding the conditions of respect for human rights in Chiapas as 
authorized by Art. 60 of the lACHR regulations; ' 

That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submit this 
petition to the government of Mexico and request information 
regarding the allegations contained herein, in accordance with Art 
4 8 (1) (a) of the Convention, and request the government's 
promptest reply, in accordance with Art. 34 (2) of the lACHR 
Regulations; 

That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemn the 
violations committed by Mexican government in this case, and that 
it demand that the government take diligent and adequate measures 
to rectify these violations; 

Whatever other measures this Commission might deem appropriate 
for providing redress to the victims of the government's wrongful 
acts. ^ 

Factual Background 

. 1- O" January 1, 1994 the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion 
Nacional ("EZLN") , an indigenous guerrilla group, announced its 
existence and occupied San Cristobal de las Casas, located in the 
southern Mexican state of Chiapas. According to its 
pronouncements, the EZLN began fighting on January 1 1994 the 
date which NAFTA took effect, to protest the continuing 'poverty and 
discrimination suffered by the indigenous population in Chiapas. 
Chiapas has a population of over three million people, one million 
of whom are indigenous and live in conditions of abject poverty 
According to local human rights and health care organizations, each 
year in Chiapas over 15,000 indigenous people die of curable 
diseases . 

2. Since January l, 1994, on various occasions, the EZLN 
have occupied the municipalities of Rancho Nuevo, Altamirano, 



122 



Ocosingo, Las Margaritas and Chanal. In response to EZLN 
activities, the Mexican government dispatched approximately 15,000 
soldiers or more to the area. Up until the date of the cease fire, 
January 12, 1994, there has been military activity in the above 
areas, and upon information and belief, this activity has continued 
since the cease-fire. According to Bishop Samuel Ruiz of Chiapas 
as well as international human rights observers in the region, the 
Mexican army has indiscriminately bombed jungle areas and civilian- 
populated communities. Many rural indigenous communities have been 
bombed, including El Corral ito, San Isidro, El Ocotal, Corazon de 
Maria, San Antonio los Basos and Pinavetal. 

3. Many citizens have fled these areas and are located in 
shelters under police control in the state of Tabasco. Refugees in 
these shelters have reported to international human rights monitors 
that the police and military have warned them not to speak with the 
press or any others, including human rights monitors, about the 
situation in Chiapas. 

4. From the period of January 2 until at least January 14, 
1994, various roads in Chiapas were closed/remain closed by the 
Mexican army, precluding access to affected areas by human rights 
observers, the Red Cross and the press. Due to the closure of the 
roads, many communities suffered from lack of water, food supplies 
and comomunication facilities. 

5. On January 5, 1994, a caravan of three press vehicles was 
strafed with machine gun fire from an army plane. Members of the 
magazine Mira de Mexico, Radio Education de Oaxaca, ABC, Televisa 
and France Presse had been travelling in these vehicles when the 
machine gun fire began. The vehicles were clearly identified as 
belonging to the press and white banners attached to the vehicles 
were visibly placed. La Sociedad Interamerican de Prensa has 
denounced this attack and requested an immediate investigation. 
Petitioners have also received information that Mexican Army 
helicopters attacked Red Cross personnel. 

6. From various towns throughout the state of Chiapas reports 
have been received of wide-spread mass arrests of indigenous males. 
Many women interviewed by human rights monitors report that their 
husbands have been accused by Mexican soldiers and police of being 
EZLN members, arbitrarily arrested and taken away with no 
indication made of where the men have been taken. La Central 
Independiente de Obreros Agricolas y Campesinos ("COIAC") , 
confirmed that four indigenous men were detained by the Policia 
Judicial of Chiapas during the week of January 3 through January 8 
for supposed connections with the EZLN and were held in the police 
station in Tuxtla Gutierrez, where they were interrogated, tortured 
and beaten. There is mounting evidence that many representatives 
of indigenous and carapesino organizations have been detained, 
interrogated and beaten since the fighting began. 



123 



7. In a visit to a jail in Chiapas on January 12, 1994, 
petitioners and other huxaan rights advocates met with twenty-one 
indigenous men who were being held. The men reported that they had 
been taken from the Rancho Nuevo area. They displayed black eyes, 
bruises and other swollen markings on their bodies which they 
stated had been inflicted by beatings from Mexican soldiers. The 
men further stated that they had been interrogated by soldiers who 
had tortured the men by dunking their heads in tubs of water in an 
effort to extract confessions that they are EZLN members. The men 
stated that they are not EZLN members. 

8. These men also stated that at the time of their detention 
another man, a Zapatista, was also arrested but was segregated from 
them and taken to another unknown location. The men stated that 
the soldiers who took the man away said that they were "going to 
burn him to death." The man has not, at the time of this writing, 
been seen again. 

9. During a recent investigation in Chiapas by international 
human rights attorneys, including petitioners, a list of various 
men reported to have been "disappeared" by the Mexican police and 
military was drafted and presented directly to a three-person panel 
which had been appointed by President Salinas to investigate the 
Chiapas up-rising. When this list of disappeared persons was 
presented to the governmental panel, the human rights attorneys 
presenting the list were told that the panel had no interest in 
receiving such information and would make no efforts to try to 
determine the whereabouts of the missing men. 

10. According to unofficial reports, at least 250 people have 
been killed. Reports also state that several guerrillas were 
summarily executed by soldiers after capture. According to an 
article published on January 8, 1994 in the Mexican newspaper La 
Joranada, in a report released by the office of the Attorney 
General, governmental forensic doctors employed by the Attorney 
General's office stated that the bodies of thirty dead guerrillas 
captured by the Army in Ocosingo bore coups de grace (tiro de 
gracia) in the head. The governmental report also stated that the 
doctors had said that "only one of the shots had been fired by a 
weapon of the same calibre used by the Army" and the governmental 
report went on to speculate that perhaps not even that shot could 
be confirmed to have been fired by the Army as it was possible that 
the guerrillas could have used the same calibre weapon. 
International human rights investigators have been denied access to 
these bodies and they have not been examined by any forensic 
experts other than those employed by the government. The 
government's claim that the shots were not fired by the Army is not 
credible in the absence of independent investigation. 



124 



statement of Jurisdiction 

11. Mexico formally acceded to the American Convention on 
Human Rights on April 3, 1982. 

Violations of the American Convention on Human Rights 

Article 1 

12. As evidenced by the actions set forth supra in 
paragraphs 1-10, the government of Mexico has failed to ensure to 
the civilian population of Chiapas "the free and full exercise of 
those rights and freedoms [recognized by the American Convention] 
..." Specifically, the government of Mexico, through its military 
agents, has subjected the residents of Chiapas to detention, 
summary execution, torture and other wrongful treatment in denying 
them access to medical care and water and food supplies to sustain 
them during the conflict. Further, this wrongful treatment and 
denial of rights is being carried out by the government with 
discriminatory intent based on race and social origin as it is 
focused on citizens of indigenous background. 

Article 2 

13. As set forth in paragraphs 1-10, the government of 
Mexico has failed to take appropriate measures to ensure the 
protection of the rights protected by the American Convention. 

Article 4 

14. As set forth in paragraphs 1-10, the army of Mexico has 
launched indiscriminate military offensives in civilian areas, done 
in violation of Article 4's mandate that "every person has the 
right to have his life respected." By permitting the summary 
execution of captured EZLN members, the Government of Mexico has 
violated their right to the respect for life. 

Article 5 

15. As set forth above, the acts of repression against 
civilians threaten the physical security of these persons and have 
resulted in extreme fear and emotional suffering. Said treatment 
is a violation of Article 5's guarantee that "every person has the 
right to have his physical, mental and moral integrity respected." 
Torture of combatants and civilians likewise violate the provisions 
of Article 5.1 and 5.2 requiring humane treatment. 

Article 7 

16. Arbitrary arrest and detention of civilians and detention 
of combatants without access to a judicial officer violate the 
protections of Article 7, which guarantees the right to personal 
liberty and bars arbitrary arrest or detention. 



125 



Article 8 

17. The summary execution of members of the EZLN and illegal 
detention, beatings and torture of indigenous people and members of 
popular organizations are violations of Article 8, which requires 
a fair, impartial and public trial to determine the guilt or 
innocence of those accused of a criminal act. 

Article 13 

18. As set forth above, the suppression of access to 
information and communication, and the directives issued by the 
Mexican police to displaced civilians not to speak with the press 
and otherwise disseminate information about their experiences 
during the conflict, violate the population's right "to seek, 
receive and impart information and ideas" protected by Article 13 
of the Convention. The government actions constitute "abuse of 
government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting 
frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination of information, 
or... other means tending to impede the communication and 
circulation of ideas and opinions" as is expressly prohibited by 
Art. 13.3. 

Article 16 

19. As set forth above, several members of popular groups 
have been arbitrarily detained, beaten, tortured and 
interrogated by members of the armed forces. These people have 
been specifically targeted due to their membership in said 
organizations. Targeting members of popular organizations is a 
violation of Article 16 's guarantee of the right to freedom of 
association. 

Article 24 

20. The detention, beating, torture and interrogation of 
indigenous persons on the basis of their ethnicity and suspected 
membership in political organizations are violations of these 
persons' rights to equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by 
Article 24. 

Article 25 

21. By closing off access roads to the area of conflict, the 
Government of Mexico has denied the victims of arbitrary detention, 
torture and interrogation and the families of victims of 
extrajudicial execution the rights to judicial protection 
guaranteed by Article 25. 

Violations of the American Declaration 
of the Rights and Duties of Man 

Article I 

22. For the same reasons as set forth above, the government 
of Mexico has violated Article I of the American Declaration which 
insures the right to life, liberty and personal security. 



81-474 0-94-5 



126 



Article II 

23. The government of Mexico has violated the right to 
equality before the law, as guaranteed by Art. II of the 
Declaration. 

Article IV 

24. The government of Mexico has violated Art. IV of the 
Declaration, by denying the right to freedom of investigation, 
opinion, expression and dissemination of ideas. 

Article V 

25. The government of Mexico has violated Art. V of the 
Declaration by failing to protect its indigenous citizens in the 
state of Chiapas from abusive attacks upon their honor, reputation 
and private and family life. 

Article XVII 

26. Article XVII of the Declaration has been violated in that 
the right to recognition of juridical personality and civil rights 
has not been respected. 

Article XVIII 

27. Article XVIII which ensures every person the right to 
resort to Courts for protection of his or her rights has been 
denied by the Mexican government in the state of Chiapas. 

Article XV 

28. The right of each person to pursue activities which 
benefit their cultural development and well-being, as protected by 
Art. XV of the Declaration has not been respected by the Mexican 
government. 

Applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the Mexican Conflict 

29. As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, 
Mexico is directly bound to refrain from acts contravening the 
purpose of the Conventions and Protocols; and to the extent that 
the Conventions and Protocols represent customary international 
law, Mexico is also directly bound to obey customary international 
law. 

30. In general, the Geneva Conventions and their protocols 
which delineate the rules of war, expressly prohibit all attacks on 
civilian communities for military purposes and mandate that 
civilians shall in all circumstances be treated humanely. 

31. The International Court of Justice has held that common 
Article 3 of the Conventions is applicable to all armed conflicts. 
Corfu Channel Case [1949] ICJ Rep. 4. Protocol II is also 
applicable in "armed conflicts not of an international character" 



127 



such as that in Chiapas. Common Article 3 and Protocol II contain 
broad protections for the civilian population. 

32. Protocol II 's applicability is defined as follows: 

[Protocol II], which develops and supplements Article 3 common 
to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 without modifying 
its existing conditions of application, shall apply to all 
armed conflicts . . . which take place in the territory of a 
High Contracting Party between its armed forces and dissident 
armed forces or other organized armed groups which, under 
responsible command, to exercise such control over a part of 
its territory as to enable them to carry out sustained and 
concerted military operations and to implement this protocol. 
(Protocol II, Art. 1.1) 

33. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the sponsor 
of the Geneva Conventions, in Resolution 2444 (Vienna 1965) stated 
that one of the most fundamental rules of war is that "a 
distinction must be made at all times between persons taking part 
in the hostilities and members of the civilian population so that 
the latter are spared as much as possible." 

34. In affirming the Red Cross resolution, the U.N. General 
Assembly has. declared that it is impermissible, under any 
conditions, to wage war against a civilian population in order to 
destroy the "opposition." 

The Scope of Common Article 3 and Protocol II 

35. Common Article 3 of the Conventions states: 

(I) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, 
including members of armed forces who have laid down their 
arras and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, 
detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be 
treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on 
race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any 
other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are 
and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place 
whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: 

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of 
all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; 

(b) taking of hostages; 

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular 
humiliating and degrading treatment; 

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of 
executions without previous judgment pronounced by a 
regularly constituted court affording all the judicial 
guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by 
civilized peoples. 

(II) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. 



128 



36. Protocol II provides basic ground rules and expands 
common article 3's provisions for respecting the rights of 
civilians in time of internal armed conflicts. The fundamental 
right to humane treatment is expressed in Art. 4 as follows: 

1. All persons who do not take a direct part or who have 
ceased to take part in hostilities, whether or not their 
liberty has been restricted, are entitled to respect for 
their person, honour and convictions and religious practices. 
They shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without 
any adverse distinction. It is prohibited to order that there 
shall be no survivors. 

2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the 
following acts against the persons referred to in paragraph 1 
are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place 
whatsoever: 

(a) violence to the life, health and physical or mental 
well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as 
cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form 
of corporal punishment; 

(b) collective punishments; 

(c) taking of hostages; 

(d) acts of terrorism; 

(e) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular 
humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced 
prostitution and any form of indecent assault; 

(f) slavery and the slave trade in all their forms; 

(g) pillage; 

(h) threats to commit any of the foregoing acts. 

36. Protocol II makes it indisputably clear that waging war 
against civilians is expressly prohibited. 

37. Protocol II 's protections are drafted in broad terms, 
indicating that in instances of doubt as to whether a person or a 
community is civilian in character, caution should be exercised, 
erring in favor of protecting civilians. 

38. It should be noted that the convention not only prohibits 
attack against civilians but is drafted to protect all "persons 
taking no active part in hostilities." Common Article 3 of the 
Conventions prohibits attack against "members of the armed forces 
who have laid down their arms or been placed hors de combat by 
sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause." (Article 3 
(I) (d) .) 

39. In addition to its specific prohibitions on murder, 
mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, Article 3 prohibits the 
passing out of sentences and the carrying out of executions without 



129 



previous judgment. Protocol II also extends guarantees of humane 
treatment to members of dissident armed forces as persons who have 
"ceased to take part in hostilities, whether or not their liberty 
has been restricted." In addition, Article 5 requires humane 
treatment of individuals being detained "for reasons related to the 
armed conflict." Article 6 provides for the process and other 
guarantees applicable "to the prosecution and punishment of 
criminal offenses related to the armed conflict." 

40. Article 3 permits the entry of the International 
Committee of the Red Cross to offer its humanitarian services to 
the parties to the conflict. Protocol II provides that "relief 
societies located in the territory of the High Contracting Party, 
such as Red Cross . . . organizations, may offer their services for 
the performance of their traditional functions in relation to the 
victims of the armed conflict." (Art 18(1)). 

41. U.N. Resolution 2444 "Respect for Human Rights in Armed 
Conflict" states principles of customary international law relating 
to the conduct of armed conflicts. The resolution states that the 
means parties may use in warfare are not unlimited, that civilian 
populations may not the subject of attack, and sets forth the 
principles of distinction. 

Enforcement of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols 

42. There are two avenues of redress for violations expressly 
stated in the Geneva Conventions themselves: the right of 
humanitarian bodies to offer services to victims and the right to 
establish an inquiry into allegations of violations. The Mexican 
Army has taken steps to frustrate the accomplishment of both: it 
has refused access to affected areas by humanitarian organizations 
during the hostilities and security officials have warned those 
fleeing the zones of conflict against speaking with members of the 
press and others including human rights investigators. 

43. Secondly, as the state is the legal entity bestowed with 
the duty to protect the rights of its citizens, the government 
itself is bound by the Geneva Conventions to provide effective 
legal remedies for their breach. Under all of the Geneva 
Conventions, parties are bound to provide effective legal sanctions 
for those guilty of "grave breaches" of the Conventions and to 
bring offenders before Courts to be charged for their crimes. The 
Mexican government has failed to establish such an inquiry. 
Furthermore, the apparent unwillingness of government-appointed 
investigators to denounce the Mexican Army for violations 
demonstrates the inability and lack of will of the Mexican 
government to establish an impartial inquiry. (See, for example, 
paragraph 10, supra ) . 



130 



Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to 
Examine Violations of the Geneva Conventions 

44. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has affirmed the 
jurisdiction of itself and the Inter-American Commission to examine 
the relationship of the rights guaranteed in the American 
Convention and other international instruments. lACHR, Advisory 
Opinion No. OC-1/82 of September 24, 1982, at para. 21 ("Other 
Treaties" decision) . 

45. This Commission has exercised its competence over 
situations relating to armed conflict many times, and has 
previously examined allegations of violation of the Geneva 
Conventions and Protocols. The practice of this Commission in 
evaluating breaches of the Geneva Conventions, which it has done in 
relation to Argentina, Nicaragua and El Salvador, amongst others, 
has become well-established. (See lACHR Report No. 31/93, Case 
10.573) 

46. The American Convention contains two provisions which 
empower the bodies of the Inter-American system to examine 
allegations of violations of other treaties, including the Geneva 
Convention and Protocols. 

47. Article 27 of the American Convention, which authorizes 
suspension of certain provisions in times of "war, public danger, 
or other emergency" states that such suspension and emergency 
measures are permissible "provided that such measures are not 
inconsistent with [the State's] other obligations under 
international law and do not involve discrimination on the ground 
of race, color, sex, language, religion, or social origin." The 
government of Mexico has given no formal notice of its intent to 
suspend rights under Art. 27.3. Further, as provided by Art. 27.2, 
under no circumstances can Articles 4 and 5 be suspended. 

48. Thus, Article 27 requires the Inter-American Commission, 
when examining cases in which the state called a state of emergency 
or otherwise attempted to suspend rights, to determine whether the 
state's actions violate any of the international agreements to 
which the state is party, including the Geneva Conventions. 

49. Applicable to the instant case is Article 29. b of the 
American Convention which states: 

No provision of this convention shall be interpreted as 
restricting the enjoyment or exercise of any right or freedom 
recognized by virtue of another convention to which one of the 
said states is a party. 

50. Thus, the American Convention explicitly recognizes that 
the rights which the Convention guarantees do not exist in a vacuum 



131 



but are part of a larger rubric of international legal 

protections. 

51. In the 1982 "Other Treaties" decision, the Court affirmed 
the right of the Inter-American Commission to interpret other 
treaties, noting the interrelationship between the regional 
inter-American system and international systems of human rights 
protection. The Court concluded that the regional system is 
complemented and enhanced by international protections, stating: 

The need of the regional system to be complemented by the 
universal finds expression in the practice of the Inter- 
American Commission on Human Rights and is entirely consistent 
with the object and purpose of the Convention, the American 
Declaration and the Statute of the Commission. The Commission 
has properly invoked in some of its reports and resolutions 
'other treaties concerning the protection of human rights in 
the American States, ' regardless of their bilateral or multi- 
lateral character, or whether they have been adopted within 
the framework or under the auspices of the inter-American 
system. Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Advisory 
Opinion No. OC-l\82 of September 24, 1982. , Id. at para. 43.- 

52. In its decision, the Court noted the special importance 
of Article 29, stating: 

Special mention should be made of Article 29, which contains 
rules governing the interpretation of the Convention, and 
which clearly indicates an intention not to restrict the 
protection of human rights to determinations that depend on 
the source of the obligations. Id. at para. 41. 

Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies 

53. The petitioner does hereby state that it is impossible to 
obtain redress for the violations alleged herein within the Mexican 
legal system as access to such remedies has been denied and made 
otherwise unavailable . Article 37 (2) (b) of the lACHR regulations 
states that domestic remedies do not need to be exhausted when: 

the party alleging violation of his rights has been denied 
access to the remedies under domestic law or has been 
prevented from exhausting them. 

54. The actions of the Government of Mexico, as described 
above, demonstrate an effective denial of access to domestic 
remedies and preclude the possibiTity of obtaining redress from the 
Mexican government at this time. Petitioners note that all 
official reports released by the office of the Attorney General and 
other governmental agencies have systematically downplayed the 
number of dead, wounded and detained, and have indicated an 
unwillingness of the Mexican government to conduct an impartial 



132 



investigation and to make information about the Chiapas conflict 
available. Petitioners also note the response received from the 
presidentially-appointed panel that it would not receive nor 
investigate reports of disappeared persons. (See paragraph 9 supra ) 

55. Petitioners maintain that the extremely precarious 
situation in Chiapas mandates immediate action by the OAS, in order 
to prevent further violations of Mexico's obligations under the 
Declaration and the Convention and to prevent further loss of 
civilian lives. Under these circumstances, exhaustion of domestic 
remedies is manifestly impossible. 

Relief Requested 
The petitioners request the following: 

A. That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights request 
the government of Mexico to adopt preventive measures to preserve 
the life, personal integrity, liberty and all other rights of the 
residents of Chiapas, including civilians and combatants captured 
or who otherwise have laid down their arms or been placed hors de 
combat in consideration of the urgency of this matter and in order 
to avoid irreparable harm to these persons, pursuant to Article 29 
of the Regulations of the Commission; 

B. That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 
investigate the facts and circumstances of the above incidents in 
an in loco visit to Mexico pursuant to Art. 48(2) of the American 
Convention and Art. 44(2) of the Regulations of the Commission; 

C. That the Inter-American Commission prepare a special 
report regarding the conditions of respect for human rights in 
Chiapas, as authorized by Art. 60 of the lACHR regulations; 

D. That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submit 
this petition to the government of Mexico and request information 
regarding the allegations contained herein, in accordance with Art. 
4 8 (1) (a) of the Convention, and request the government's 
promptest reply, in accordance with Art. 34 (2) of the lACHR 
Regulations; 

E. That the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 
condemn the violations committed by the armed forces in this case, 
and that it demand that the government take diligent and adequate 
measures to rectify these violations. Specifically, petitioner 
requests that access to areas of conflict be allowed by the Mexican 
government; that access for international humanitarian groups be 
allowed to jails and detention facilities housing captured 
guerrillas; that the government of Mexico facilitate the 
delivery of medical and food supplies to the affected areas. If 



133 



the government fails to effectuate such measures, that the lACHR 
adopt a resolution condemning the government, making it public in 
its next annual report, and that it transmit this case to the 
Inter-American Court on Human Rights for its consideration; 

F. Whatever other measures this Commission might deem 
appropriate for providing redress to the victims of the 
government's wrongful acts. 



January 27. 1994 

Respectfully submitted, 



/lilja. f%cinr> 



WALLIE H. MASON 

Anna Marie Gallagher 

William C. Harrell 

Alejandro Ponce Villacis 

CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS LEGAL ACTION/ 

CENTRO PARA LA ACCION LEGAL 

EN DERECHOS HUMANOS 

1601 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. 

Suite 612 

Washington, D.C. 20009 

Tel.: (202) 265-8712 

FAX: (202)483-6730 




SARA RIOS 

Michael Ratner 

Beth Stephens 

Jose Luis Morin 

CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS 

666 Broadway, 7th floor 

New York, N.Y 10012 

Tel: (212) 614-6473 



Of counsel: 



Harold Hongju Koh 

Ronald C. Slye 

Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic 

127 Wall Street 

New Haven, Conn. 06520 

-and- 



134 



Deborah Anker 

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Program 

Harvard Law School 

Cambridge, Ma. 02138 

Rick Best 

National Lawyers Guild 
55 Avenue of the Americas 
New York, N.Y. 10013 

Peter Berkowitz 

Central America Solidarity Association 

1151 Massachusetts Ave. 

Cambridge, Ma. 02138 



135 



statement Submitted by Martin Edwin Andersen, 
former member of the professional staff of the 
D.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 
to the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the 
House Committee on Foreign Affairs 
February 2, 199 4 

Mr. Chairman, once again you personally and the other members 
of the subcommittee are to be congratulated for your initiative and 
your responsiveness in the face of another grave tragedy involving 
the plight of indigenous peoples in our hemisphere. 

Last year your efforts — particularly your convening a hearing 
last summer — on the plight of native peoples in Brazil helped to 
focus attention here and abroad on the shameful lack of action by 
that nation's government in carrying out its solemn commitments to 
the international community concerning the demarcation and 
protection of Indian lands. 

Today we contemplate still another tragedy — a pre-announced 
tragedy that could have taken place almost anytime and almost 
anywhere in this hemisphere that there are native peoples living in 
the lands of their forefathers. 

In our deliberations in this chamber, where indigenous rights 
will logically be placed in the context of the reality of Mexico 
today, in the context of the deep and often-difficult relations 
between that country and our own, of trade agreements made and of 
promises broken, I believe we should remember that the conditions 
that created the tragedy of Chiapas is not unique to Mexico; by 
focusing on the causes of resistance, rebellion and death in 
southern Mexico we find a commonality that sadly runs from the 
spine of the Andes to the Arctic circle. 

I say this not to in any way exculpate the Mexican government 
for its treatment of native peoples. Rather, I hope that by 
focusing on what went wrong there — and by a frank admission by us 
that treatment of native peoples in the United States is often 
degrading to individuals and threatening to cultures — we may help 
to find solutions to the problems faced by the 35 to 40 million 
native people in this hemisphere. 

I would also like to state for the record, Mr. Chairman, that 
I strongly supported the North American Free Trade Agreement 
(NAFTA) . While the rebellion in Chiapas was in part linked to 
opposition to the accord, I believe that the overall conditions 
that pushed some indigenous peoples to take up arms against the 
Salinas de Gotari government are more complex and more universal 
than some mechanism"- and somewhat shallow press reports might 
suggest. The Chiapas revolt does suggest that future trade 
agreements must include explicit protections for native peoples. 

I would also suggest, however, that approval of the trade 
agreement may have enabled a more sustained coverage of the 
situation in Chiapas by the international media. It also offers 
the Clinton Administration an unprecedented opportunity to work 
with Mexicans of all persuasions to attend not only to urgent issue 
of indigenous rights, but also to put these rights within the 
larger context of overall democratization. 



136 



Before I turn to the specifics of the Chiapas case, Mr. 
Chairman, I would like to make some general observations about the 
growing global movement for indigenous rights, as a way of helping 
this committee put the events in an outlying state in southern 
Mexico into the important context in which they form part. 

Mr. Chairman, one of the greatest challenges of the post-Cold 
War era facing international policymakers is the need to solve the 
problems confronted by an estimated 300 million indigenous peoples 
around the world. 

The indigenous agenda includes many of the most intriguing and 
urgent items that need to be addressed in the run-up to the 21st 
Century. These include the quest for broad and effective 
participation in newly emerging democracies; human rights; the 
growing recognition within the international scientific community 
of the contribution of tribal knowledge, particularly of plant 
resources, to the expansion of the frontiers of science and 
technology; issues of massive migration of peoples across 
international boundaries; demilitarization; environmental 
protection, and a new framework for decentralization of decision- 
making within nations, allowing for more effective local self- 
governance. 

The future cost of the United States' failure to 
constructively join in the debate over indigenous peoples' economic 
and political rights will come in the form of a high price to the 
security of our hemisphere, and beyond. The indigenous revolution 
is here. Whether it is largely peaceful and beneficial to the 10 
percent of the world's population made up of indigenous and tribal 
people, as well as the rest of humanity, or whether the future is 
opaque, consisting of an endless series of "low-intensity 
conflicts," has a lot to do with the actions of this committee, 
this Congress, and policymakers around this capital. A systematic 
effort needs to be made to encourage indigenous peoples living in 
fragile environments to conserve their resources by ensuring them 
resource rights (access to land, water and fuel), the ability to 
defend their land and resource base, and to help them meet their 
needs in a modern world without losing their time-honored resource 
management methods. 

The United States should help to fortify the global march to 
democracy as well as the protection of our common natural 
inheritance by helping indigenous peoples to take meaningful and 
representative roles in their own governments. Advancing 
democracy, a primary U.S. policy goal, requires the effective 
empowerment of indigenous peoples so that they may have greater 
participation in the political system and greater control over 
their lives, lands and resources. 

A useful tool, Mr. Chairman, will come into full effect in a 
few weeks with the release of the 1993 annual State Department 
country reports on human rights. In one of his last acts as a 
lawmaker. Sen. Alan Cranston, whom I had the pleasure of serving as 
a staff member of the Foreign Relations Committee, sponsored the 
so-called Cranston Amendment to the FY'93 Foreign Appropriations 
bill, which was signed into law by President Bush. 



137 



The Cranston amendment requires the report to "describe the 
extent to which indigenous peoples are able to participate in 
decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions and the 
allocation of natural resources, and assess the extent of the 
protection of their civil and political rights." The information 
contained in the 1993 report will help to guide and inform the 
policy debate that has to take place — now. 

Despite the great deal of news coverage about events in 
Chiapas, I believe it is important to focus on several specific 
subjects regarding the situation there as a means of clarification 
and demystif ication. 

First, I believe it is important to point out that reports of 
"surprise" on the part of the government concerning the attack 
needs to be clarified. While the Salinas administration had its 
own vested interests in proclaiming as fictitious reports last year 
of guerrilla activities to be myths, throughout 1993 the army was 
involved in rather classic, if brutal, counterinsurgency efforts in 
the mountains. This fact is clearly outlined in the very good 
report issued by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. 

Second, claims about the nature of the movement by the Salinas 
government necessarily have to be taken with a rather large grain 
of salt. Whatever plausible case can be made that the guerrillas 
had outside contacts and foreign supporters in their ranks, the 
causes of the revolt by the Zapatista Army are clearly Mexican in 
character and content. President Salinas' own special negotiator 
Manuel Camacho Solis has given lie to government claims that the 
Zapatistas were led by foreigners by describing the rebels as home- 
grown insurgents. His use of the term "army" when describing the 
insurgents also flies in the face of government claims that the 
guerrillas were a band of "lawbreakers." 

Third, while the Zapatistas have stolen the headlines, most 
indigenous activism throughout the hemisphere has been non-violent, 
if not always peaceful. Similarly, I believe it is singularly 
unhelpful to use the Zapatistas' leftist rhetoric as the prism 
through which indigneous activism is evaluated. Indian issues are 
not, in the main, either "leftist" or "rightist," although some 
activists may be thus characterized. At the most fundamental 
level, the indigenous agenda is one of political and economic 
empowerment and of cultural sovereignty. Efforts to cast native 
demands in the left-right dichotomy of dominant society not only 
does a disservice to understanding; it frequently results in 
casualties among those who have little voice in their own labeling. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to explore more 
fully the issues of civil-military relations and the administration 
of justice arising out of the Chiapas episode. Let me begin by 
making my own bias explicit: I think it would be a great tragedy 
for the New Year's Day revolt to be the pretext for greater outlays 
for military expenditures, or that indigenous activism become the 
new raison d'etre for army involvement in internal security. 

Mr. Chairman, in his State of the Union speech last week. 
President Clinton took a very tough stand on crime, a stand I 
applaud. 



138 



But I would like to draw your attention for a moment to one 
critical passage in the President's annual message. He said: "We 
must take serious steps to reduce violence and prevent crime, 
beginning with more police officers and more community policing. 
We know right now that police that work the streets, know the 
folks, have the respect of the neighborhood kids ... are more 
likely to prevent crime as well as catch criminals." 

Compare that to the recent report of the Minnesota Advocates. 
Despite a constitutional prohibition of military involvement in 
Mexican domestic affairs, specifying that "in time of peace, no 
military authority may excercise any functions other than those 
precisely related to military discipline," the report — prepared 
before the revolt in Chiapas — noted "troubling . . . signs of renewed 
involvement of the military in civilian affairs during the 
administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. ... Another 
disturbing development is the deployment of the army among the 
indigenous populations of southern Mexico — especially in Chiapas — 
where long-simmering land conflicts have been aggravated by the 
government's agrarian policy. ... lawless practices of the Mexican 
military have become increasingly tolerated at the highest levels 
of the Mexican government. ... The growing acceptance of lawless 
military involvement in detentions and searches among civilian 
populations is a dangerous development." While a general 
interviewed by the group denied — against all evidence — that the 
military tortured suspects, he did make the remarkable observation: 
"How do you expect us to get people to confess if we don't use 
force?" 

Widespread abuses predating an actual guerrilla outbreak are 
no surprise to those aware of the record of military forces 
carrying out internal security roles. In our own democracy, the 
clear distinction between national defense and internal security is 
enshrined in the principle of posse comitatus , which may be baldly 
stated as, "the police mirandize, the army vaporizes." Trained in 
the employment of a maximum use of force to destroy an "enemy," 
counting on forces who are largely alien to the community in which 
they are deployed, illegal practices such as those denounced by the 
Minnesota Advocates are almost to be expected. Obviously, the 
distance between Capitol Hill and the mountains surrounding San 
Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, is long, in miles and in time. 
But the lack of effective recourse to a functioning legal system, 
coupled with the employment of military force acting as a virtual 
occupation army, can be seen as nothing less than an open 
invitation to the disenfranchised and disaffected to join the 
Zapatista rebels, armed with potent slogans about land and justice. 

According to many knowledgeable observers, the Salinas 
government has increasingly used the army to intervene in political 
and labor disputes, as well as as a major actor in the fight 
against narcotics trafficking. The Minnesota Advocates report 
notes that: "The militarization of the drug war is, in large 
measure, a result of the government's inability or unwillingness to 
pursue serious reform of the police," even as the army has itself 
been implicated in almost surreal episodes of narcotics-related 
misconduct, including the murder of law enforcement officers. 



139 



Meanwhile, in many precincts, anti-narcotics police have had to buy 
their own ammunition, even though most local police make a mere 
$200 a month. 

Mr. Chairman, throughout Latin America the absence of a 
unifying anti-communist ideology has sent militaries scrambling to 
define new threats to security as a means of holding onto budgets 
and prestige. Because the struggle for indigenous rights means a 
challenge to the status guo in countries where the slogan "Haga 
patria, mate un indio" (Be a patriot — kill an Indian) is still seen 
painted on barrio walls with disturbing frequency, the old U.S.- 
sponsored National Security Doctrine filters such protest through 
a distorting light. 

Despite the fact that Mexico has one of the lowest per capita 
expenditures on its military in Latin America, the lack of an 
appropriate role and mission for its army is pushing the force to 
demand a greater say in major national decisions, the antechamber 
of militarism. This trend is exacerbated by the army's financial 
independence, a tradition dating back to the Revolution, and now, 
by the events m Chiapas. Whether it remains involved in counter- 
narcotics activities and providing welfare services — two missions 
that detract from an army's primary role of national defense — or 
shifts into an even more ambitious and more dangerous 
counterinsurgency role, the outlook for healthy civil-military 
relations is not bright, particularly if Mexico undergoes a period 
of effervescence that one might expect if real democracy is ushered 
in by last week's accord between the ruling PRI and the opposition. 

Mr. Chairman, there are four specific issues raised by events 
in Chiapas that are broadly representative of the challenges facing 
indigenous peoples throughout the continent. These are: 1) the 
political empowerment of indigenous peoples; 2) the protection of 
their land rights; 3) indigenous rights and the administration of 
justice, and 4) forest management and the protection of indigenous 
cultures . 



Political empowerment 

Mr. Chairman, the United States cannot sit idly by as 
indigenous peoples fight, peacefully, throughout the hemisphere for 
their political rights and the protection of their lands and 
natural resources. After all, a primary U.S. foreign policy goal 
is the advancement of democracy. Bringing "marginalized" peoples 
(as the Mexican government refers to its Indian communities) into 
the democratic process is a key component for the consolidation of 
elected governments. Throughout Latin America, but most certainly 
in Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, democratic participation 
cannot be limited to areas of relative privilege if the long-term 
prospects for democracy are to be secure. We must help ensure new 
and emerging democracies remain healthy by being fully 
representative. 



140 



Mr. Chairman, in Guatemala nearly 60 percent of the country's 
10 million people are descendants of the ancient Mayas, yet there 
are only six indigenous members of Congress. In Ecuad^ir there is 
a single Native American congressman. Of the 130 members of the 
Bolivian parliament, only three are indigenous, a fact ameliorated 
only partially by the fact that last year a recognized Native 
American leader, Victor Hugo Cardenas, was elected vice president. 

The Clinton Administration should offer its support for 
meaningful dialogue between indigenous peoples and their 
governments, including the enhancement of local abilities to 
articulate appropriate political demands, throughout the 
hemisphere. An appropriate forum to express such concerns would be 
the upcoming Leaders Summit to take place here in Washington. 

Protection of land rights 

Indian homelands, in many cases the last remote forests, 
savannas and wetlands of Latin America, are facing a ruthless 
onslaught by lawless cattle ranchers, loggers and landless 
peasants. Experts say, and the experience of Chiapas appears to 
bear out, that securing legal protection for Indian lands is the 
greatest challenge faced by native peoples as they seek to preserve 
their own way of life, and the ecosystems that sustain them. In 
places such as Central America, where the population is expected to 
double within the next 25 years, the increasing shortage of what 
were once "frontier" lands means that commercial agricultural 
interests can only expand at the expense of native peoples and 
their control over territories in which they live. In Brazil, 
Ecuador, Bolivia and elsewhere, land issues are at the forefront of 
the indigenous agenda. 

An important part of helping indigenous peoples protect their 
lands is to help provide them with the information and support 
needed to create accurate land-use maps, thus demolishing a racist 
myth that endures from the Spanish Colonial era: that the 
remaining forests, savannas and wetlands are "uninhabited," and 
therefore there for the taking. 

One promising effort has been undertaken by native peoples in 
Honduras and in Panama, assisted by the non-governmental 
organization Native Lands. In both countries, Indians have escaped 
the invisibility myth by creating graphic, detailed records of 
their lands, including who lives thare and how the land is used. 
By defending their territories by employing scientific maps and 
technical evaluations, native peoples can make credible cases for 
legalizing communal homelands, stanching the invasions of their 
lands by landless peasants and multinational companies, and 
resolving on more favorable terms the relationship between Indian 
homelands and national protected areas. 

In Mexico, an estimated 70 percent of indigenous land is 
forest. The Sierra Madre Occidental in Chihuahua state is one of 
the richest biosystems in North America, with a stunning variety of 
plants and animals. Yet not only are the region's 50,000 
Tarahumara Indians at risk, victims of an unholy alliance of large 
landowners and drug traffickers. Ineffective policing by the 
Mexican army has helped to make the sprawling state bordering the 



141 



United States a lawless cesspool of corruption. 

With regards to the specific situation in Chiapas, I believe 
that the Salinas government should be urged in the strongest 
possible terms to appoint a blue-ribbon commission of independent 
experts to conduct a survey of land issues in the state, with an 
eye towards accomplishing there what native peoples in Honduras and 
Panama have been able to do to such good effect. 

Administration of justice 

The revolt in Chiapas has helped to focus attention on the 
need for new rules and new laws governing how countries treat their 
Indian nations and pther indigeneous peoples. In countries as 
diverse as Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru, Native Americans- continue 
to be victims of military-run internal security forces and 
subjected to forced recruitment and violence by both military and 
insurgent groups. The lack of a representative legal system at the 
community level in turn means the denial to native peoples of the 
full protection of the law, while indigenous lands continue to be 
overrun, confiscated and/or threatened. 

In many countries of Latin America, the police are still under 
the control of their nations' armed forces. Human rights 
advocates advocates point out that it is necessary to strengthen 
civilian justice systems, including the police, at the local level 
in order to effectively confront abuses. Native American demands 
for legal protection through the creation and support of community 
and regional justice systems, including law enforcement, while 
representing the possibility of a dramatic shift in attitude 
towards respect for indigenous peoples, mirror the democratic 
experience of the United States itself, where law enforcement is 
overwhelmingly civilian and local. 

The creation of and support for local administration of 
justice helps to ensure community empowerment on issues of vital 
concern, and is directly related to the questions of 
demilitarization and human rights. U.S. policy should highlight 
helping democratic parties from countries such as Nicaragua and 
Guatemala to demilitarize their internal security apparatus by 
civilianizing the police forces and to effectively place them at 
the service of the people they are supposed to protect. 

Assistance offered by the Clinton administration should 
support local leaders and groups mobilized to promote Indian self- 
determination in police and administration of justice issues; 
provide indigenous community leaders a forum to compare their 
people's experiences with existing judicial institutions and law 
enforcement bodies, and offer Native American political leaders and 
legal experts an opportunity to exchange information with 
democratic development and law enforcement specialists to help them 
determine strategies for enhancing community control over the 
administration of justice. 



142 



Forest managemBTit and the protection of indigenous cultures 

There is a growing recognition in Latin America of the need to 
foster a respect for the needs of indigenous peoples who use 
forests as the basis of their livelihood, social organization or 
cultural identity, and to recognize the importance that such groups 
and established local communities which depend en forest resources 
have an economic stake m sustainable forest use. Local community 
awareness of the effects of their actions on forests has to be 
strengthened, as well as the promotion of the compatibility of 
their actions with attainment of forest management objectives. In 
this regard, the international community can and should help 
indigenous peoples increase their capacity to protect their own 
lands and thus support sustainable resource use and the protection 
of the environment. 

Among those policy considerations deserving of support and 
assistance: the recognition of indigenous peoples' and local 
community residents' rights, cultural identity and equal 
opportunity for full participation in their country's life, 
including the life of the forest; the exchange of information 
(with mutual protection of intellectual property rights) between 
external research and technology generation and locally developed 
technology and indigenous knowledge, as a means of more sustainably 
managing forest resources; and empowering indigenous peoples and 
residents of local communities to ensure their effective 
participation in planning and decision-making related to the life 
of the forest, utilizing — as much as possible — the help of local 
and international non-governmental organizations and the private 
sector. 

These efforts should also include the defining and 
strengthening of the role, participation and stake of indigenous 
peoples in local, national and international economies, 
particularly in the sustainable harvest of both timber (including 
fuelwood) and non-timber forest products and services, and the 
facilitation and furthering the cultural, educational and economic 
self-sufficiency of indigenous peoples. 

Chiapas, and beyond 

Mr. Chairman, during the Bush Administration, the United 
States was seen as frankly unsympathetic to efforts by the United 
Nations to address the indigenous agenda. The Clinton 
Administration, too, needs to be pressed to give indigenous issues 
a higher priority. According to American participants, at the June 
1993 human rights summit in Vienna, the United States delegation 
did not even have a position paper ready for discussion on 
indigenous rights, after womens' rights the hottest topic on the 
agenda. 

The Clinton administration should clearly state that it is 
U.S. policy to assist indigenous peoples, particularly in new and 
emerging democracies and in nations in which native peoples are 
either a numerical majority or a significant minority of the 
population. The implementation of the Cranston Admendment should 
be closely monitored for possible improvement. 



143 



Where possible, native peoples must be included in sustainable 
development strategies, particularly those that would enhance the 
protection of rain forests or other environmental treasures. And 
important step in this direction would be for the State Department 
to promulgate the recommendations of the Forest Convention 
Secretariat concerning indigenous peoples and established local 
communities, a f orwardlooking policy document that was approved 
internally by the Bush Administration but never given the status of 
an official document. The administration should also vigorously 
champion indigenous interests and concerns within the multilateral 
development banks and international trade organizations, such as 
the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the 
International Timber Trade Organization. 

Further, as a recent Congressional study commissioned by 
Senator Cranston on the impact of U.S. foreign assistance shows, 
although the Agency for International Development has done limited 
work in providing aid to indigenous peoples, much more needs to be 
done. American foreign aid efforts should reach out to meet the 
special needs of indigenous peoples, rather than hoping they 
benefit as rural peoples or as the poor. In particular, greater 
emphasis should be made on programs that facilitate indigenous 
institution building; economic empowerment; a strengthening of 
cultural identity; increased technical and professional training; 
the strengthening of legal rights, and greater policy dialogue with 
recipient countries. 

Mr. Chairman, strategies for the inclusion of indigenous 
peoples into the modern world on their own terms are essential if 
the stated goals of U.S. foreign policy — the promotion of human 
rights and the consolidation of democracy — are to be made 
effective. At the end of the so-called American Century, our 
response to the challenges posed by the least represented and most 
imperiled 10 percent of our planet's population will weigh heavily 
on the future perception of us by ourselves and by our neighbors. 

Thank you. 



144 



statement of Representative Nancy Pelosi 

Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs 
Hearing on human rights in Chiapas, Mexico 

February 2, 1994 

Mr. Chairman: Thank you for holding this hearing on human rights 

in Chiapas and for providing the opportunity for Members to 

submit testimony for the record. Like a number of my colleagues, 

I am very concerned about reports of serious human rights 

violations committed by the government of Mexico's armed forces 

and the insurgents in the armed conflict in Chiapas. In response 

to these reports, I circulated a letter to a targetted group of 

our colleagues in early January, requesting that they cosign a 

letter to President Salinas of Mexico expressing concerns about 

events in Chiapas. I would like to submit a copy of our letter 

for the hearing record. Thank you. 



145 

CongrE^fi of tfte Winiizh ^tat£g 

^ousc of Eepresentatibcg 
jaafifjinston, 33C 20515 

January 11, 1994 



President Carlos Salinas de Gortari 
National Palace 
Mexico, D.F., Mexico 

Dear Mr. President: 

We are writing to express our concern over the armed conflict 
betv;een Mexican security forces and the Zapat:.sta National 
Lii;eration Arr.y (EZLN) in the state of Chiapas. As supporters of 
the North A.T.erican Free Trade Agreer.ent [NAFT.^; and advocates of 
a close partnership with Mexico, we are particularly concerned by 
reports of serious huran rights violations that rray have been 
cor-r.itted by your governrr.ent ' s forces and the :.nsurgents. 

vn-.ile we are pleased to learn that you have authorized Dr. Jorge 
Madrazo, President of the National Hur-3.n Rights Cor::r.ission 
;CNDH) , to travel to the region to investigate abuses, we are 
concerned that the CNDH has had r.ixed results in investigating 
arr.y violations in the past. For this reason, we urge your 
governr.ent to take charge of a thorough and exhaustive 
investigation of the following cases and others. We also urge 
you to perr.it and facilitate investigations by the press, 
national and international huran rights groups, and particularly 
the International Corir.ittee of the ied Cross ;iCRC) ." 

According to the inforxation we have received fror. hur.an rights 
crganicaticns, the abuses described below have been corr.itted m 
violation of the principles of international law which govern the 
conduct of all parties in a situation of internal arr.ed conflict. 
Ar.ong the cases that .have been reported are: 

* The lear.hs of fourteen Zapatista rebels, v.-hcse bodies v.-ere 
1 ouno near ^an v^ristooa— oe —as N^asas vicn signs o— na'/mcr 
0— — n executed as izcss ds corr^ac* 



Criztchal de las Casas. Jcurnr.li£t5 m the srea 



146 



* The reported deaths cf at least seven civilians allegedly 
killed by security fcrces on January 5 near Rancho del Carrr.e: 
de Maria. The civilians were reportedly fleeing from the 
insurgents when a .tiilitary aircraft strafed them, killing 
seven; 

* Indiscriminate aerial attacks which have caused displacement 
cf civilians from hamlets south of San Cristobal de las 
Casas. According to information received from the area, the 
attacks occurred even though there was no rebel presence in 
the area, placing the lives and property cf civilians at 
risk. Journalists were targets of an aerial attack, even 
though they were traveling in clearly identified press ■ 
vehicles; 

* The death cf a medic of the Mexican Red Cross and the 
wounding of another. The circ^wimstances cf this incident are 
still unclear and it is probable that the insurgents are 
responsible. It is a case that merits a thorough 
investigation as a violation of the fundam.ental principle cf 
m.edical neutrality; and 

* The kidnapping by the insurgents of former Chiapas governor 
Abasalcn Castellanos Dominguez and some of his family 
m.emJoers, some cf whom, are still being held hostage. 

Finally, we respectfully urge that you instruct your security 
forces to conduct- ongoing counterinsurgency operations with 
caution and to restrict their activities to those perm.itted 
v.-ithm tne ncrm.s and orincioles of international and Mexican lav:. 















Sincerely, 



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147 



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148 



EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 

PrasMvm 

gaiashkibos 

Chipo«<«a 

F^st Vic* PrMMMl 

Susan Masten 
Yurok 

Rscerding S«er«i»ry 

S Otan« K*il«v 

Tr«aaur*r 

Mary Ann Antone 
Tohono OoOham 

AREA VICE PRESIDENTS 

Ab«rd»«n Ar*« 

K*n Biilingsty 
Standing Rock Sioui 

AlbuqusrqiM Ar«A 

Cuafies J Dorame 
TssuQue Puvblo 

Arudarko ArM 

Merte Boyd 
Sac & Foi 

Bllltnga Ar«a 

John Suncnild, Sr 
ChiDpawa dee 

Junaau Araa 

Wpiue Kasayuhe 
Yupik 

Mtnnaapolla Araa 

KAarge Anderson 
0|it)«e 

Muakogaa Araa 

Oonaid E Oiies 
Peoria 

Nonhaaalem Araa 

Keller George 
Oneida 

Phoanii Araa 

Irene C Cucti 
Nonhern Ute 

Portland Araa 

B'uce Wv'^f^* 
Spokane 

Sacramanle Araa 

Han* Murpfiv 
KurT>eyaav (Mission) 

Souihaaatarn Araa 

A 9'uce Jones 
Lumoee 



National Congress of American Indians 

Esl. 1944 

STATEMENT OF RACHEL A. JOSEPH 

INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 

NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS ("NCAI") 

TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommutee on Western Hemisphere 
Affairs. Mv name is Rachel A. Joseph and I am interim Executive Director of 
the National Congress ot American Indians (NCAIi NC.M is the oldest and 
largest federation of Indian nations commuted lo the promotion ot tribal 
governments and the protection of Indian rights. Our membership exceeds 162 
Tribes 1 would like to provide to the Siibcommiiiee our perspective on the 
recent events in Chiapas. Mexico, including the conditions which led to the New 
Year's Dav uprising, the treatment of indigenous peoples in Mexico and the 
human rights situation in Mexico. 

Accompanied by another American Indian, representing the Indian Law- 
Resource Center. I lourneyed to Chiapas in the da\s immediaiely lollowing the 
Neu Ve.ir s Dav uprising lo observe first hand the events a^ ihey unidUlod and 
to urge the Mexican government to protect the human rights of the Ma\,i peo|iles 
Our delcization was denied access to the areas ot the inos; intense I'lL-hiinu 
tor "sccuniv reasons" 1 was outraged by the i.ict i!iai loumalisis, human rights 
iibscr\crs. luim.mitarian orcamzaiions. and ;;\en .irea rcsule:iis \\ere domed 



INTERIM EXECUTIVE OIRECTOB 

Pacnei A joseon aCCCSS 

Sf^o s Hon ePaiuie- Mono 



149 

Indian |)eople are well aware of the tragedy that unfolds when armies are 
unleashed in their communities. Based upon conversations we had with local 
farmers, economic and social development groups, religious leaders, and 
members of the international press corps, we concluded that grave and potentially 
widespread human rights abuses had been committed by the Mexican armed 
tbrccs. These abuses included arbitrary detention, torture, indiscriminate 
boiniiuig and summary execution of area Indians. At the heart of the conflict in 
Chiap.is is the denial o\' Indian peoples' most basic rights to land and resources, 
and to democratic self-government and the rule of law. In the words of an article 
appearing in The Economist (January 22, 1994) Mexican Indians are still "locked 
HI a feudal culture." 

As we enter the era of the North American Free Trade Agreement 
(NAI-TA) and strive to achieve prosperity and growth we must bear in mind the 
ab|cci |Hiveriy and deprivation of rights that most indigenous in Mexico endure. 
\\V' Muisi not permit our zeal for economic growth and development to 
(ucrsh.iilow our coiiiinitnieiit to human rights. 

Mr. ("hairman. we look forward to working with this Subcommittee and 
ihc Congress in providing information and the Indian perspective to you in order 
(o luMicr evaluate the situation in Chiapas, and the human rights record involving 
iiuliLienous peoples m the Americas. 

o 



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