Encuentro for Peace in San Cristobal

[translated by irlandesa]

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. July 7.

The more than one thousand participants in the National Encuentro for Peace with Justice and Dignity Рwhich concluded in this city today Рagreed to defend the San Andr̩s Accords and to direct all civil struggles towards creating the conditions for peace in the state, regarding human rights and the building of democracy.

In the document entitled Strategic Lines, participants established the need for “making visible” to society and the public the “gravity of the war situation and the conflicts at a national level,” as well as the urgency for “a true peace” in Chiapas.

Other agreements that were reached at the end of the meeting, which began on Friday, were creating a new political culture based on principles of respect for diversity and the cultures which exist in the country, as well as reinforcing civil society’s participation in the processes of continental struggle against the free trade agreement, the Plan Puebla-Panama and neoliberal globalization.

They also agreed to contribute to rebuilding the social and community fabric, strengthening civil participation and observation in the defense of human rights and the struggle against militarization and paramilitarization, the release of political prisoners and the creation of conditions for the return of the displaced.

They also agreed to back the processes of autonomy and of resistance of the indigenous peoples, strengthening their ties to all civil society movements.

Activities Outside the Program

The organizing committee had announced that the encuentro would end with a march through the streets of San Cristóbal, but afterwards it was agreed that the work would be concluded with the closing ceremony in the Hermanos Domínguez City Theatre, which is what took place.

The full assembly had been scheduled for 1:00 PM, but, owing to delays in the tables, it began after 5:00 PM. Prior to the reading of the documents which were approved at the end, the zapatista hymn was sung, and then the Tlayacapan municipal band played, dedicating the bolero Cuatro Vidas to “our great friend Carlos Payán Velver,” the founding director of La Jornada, saying that “he has given his life for this patria and for the world.” They dedicated the song Mi Ranchito in remembrance of Cristina Payán.

Since the final documents were still not ready, the band continued to play, and even members of the Acteal choir, who were not on the program, went up onto the podium at the request of the Tlayacapan musicians, who were led by Anacleto Pedraza, president of the zapatista council.

During the intermission, presenters announced that some 300 pro-zapatista indigenous had taken over a highway and detained heavy machinery in the Olga Isabel Autonomous Municipality in Chilón, in protest over the building of an access road to areas inhabited by EZLN support bases.

The final documents were read at almost 6:00 PM, first in various indigenous languages and later in Spanish. In one, entitled Call to the National Conscience and Heart, encuentro participants – belonging to 285 organizations in 13 states in Mexico and 13 other countries – stated that there would be no democracy without the recognition of the rights of the Indian peoples, nor any State reform as long as these guarantees were not constitutionally recognized. It added that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) is a “necessary and fundamental” factor “for peace and for a new hope.”

They defined one of their priorities as being the defense of the San Andrés Accords and demanding, through all means possible, that they be completely fulfilled, not just in the priority constitutional reform. They further called for the satisfaction of the conditions for renewing dialogue which the EZLN has presented, and for the recognition of, and respect for, the collective rights of the Indian peoples.

Climate of Tension and Uncertainty

They also asserted in this document that in Chiapas, and especially in the zapatista region, “there is still a climate of tension and uncertainty,” and that the EZLN’s three conditions for dialogue have not been met, conditions which the federal government had considered to be “with merit.” They further asserted that the paramilitaries “continue to have impunity, and they have moved on to a new phase which has adapted to the North American counterinsurgency doctrine, provoking a constant wearing down, violence, division and all kinds of conflicts.”

They also stated that government actions, “developed behind the backs of the populace,” are affecting lands and living conditions in the most widespread ways; that the EZLN continues to be a “factor for peace which impedes, with enormous efforts, the violence from becoming deeper and from worsening.” They also said that the Plan Puebla-Panama represents an “ethnocide.”

Encuentro participants stressed that this is the moment for civil society, which should “re-take the initiative” in a manner which contributes to “forging a new social and political pact, establishing a new State.”

In this call to Mexicans, they concluded, “it is also vital and urgent for the three branches of the State, and especially for federal and Chiapas state officials, to honor their commitments, to learn to govern obeying, respecting the dignity of the people and of the entire nation, and to fully carry out the mandate which has been granted them.”

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