This article was printed in The News, MEXICO, Monday, January 05, 1998. As for its veracity, who knows? I havent been to Chiapas since 1976. All I know is what I read in this, and other, beltway presses. Nevertheless, Juan Ruiz Healys opinions, appearing regularly in his column A FONDO, are respected. A Fondo is originally published in the espanole hablando periodico Novedades. Take the following for what it is worth!
Acteal: Merely Bloody Revenge Between Indians.
For decades since Chiapas 1824 integration into Mexico union of states, the government has neglected the socio-political situation in this poor southern state.
LITTLE SLOW HELP.
For various reasons Chiapas has suffered a dynamic succession of governors, which has consistently destabilized the state and has provoked little aid from the government or the private sector. And what little aid has been sent to the state has been slow in coming.
During the 174 years Chiapas has been a Mexican state, it has had 154 governors. In the past 40 years it has had eleven governors. And in the past decade there have been six governors.
Following the Jan. 1 1994 Zapatista uprising, economic aid started to flow with torrents into the state. President Ernesto Zedillo has kept the aid flowing and increased it. But help arrived too late.
THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
Since 1824, Chiapas has lacked a stable state government. The result of this has been a series of socio-economic crises, including inter-family, religious, economic, racial and political problems.
Next to the governments perpetual neglect for the state, many foreign multinational corporations (from the United States, France, and Germany) have expressed vast interest in the regions rich supply of coffee, oil, wood, hydroelectric power, uranium, and other mineral riches.
But this foreign interest is not necessarily benevolent. Its common historical knowledge that German coffee growers, since the 19th century (and well into this one) have kept Indians in a slavery regime. They were notorious for keeping their indigenous subjects drunk on cheap liquor.
Besides the political and economic profits that many enemies to peace face to reap in Chiapas, there is an incredible social injustice in Chiapas and that foments violence and instability.
Such enemies to peace are: Bishop Samuel Ruiz, his assistant Bishop Raul Vera Lopez and Subcommandante Marcos. They are all engineering and nurturing chaos in Chiapas. And, by the way, Vera Lopez has some erotic-ethical problems in a Tuxtla Gutierrez Cantina, according to confidential well-informed A Fondo sources.
Next to the socio-economic problems in Chiapas, there is another equally serious issue: Indigenous idiosyncrasies. Chiapas Indians groups have refused to integrate into Mexican society and subsequently mini-states exist inside the region.
The poetic image of conquered victims made out of the Indians in Chiapas (Mames, Choles, Tojolabades, Tzetzales, Tzotziles, Chamulas, Lacondones, etc.) is merely a mask hiding another reality.
These Indians are essentially racist. They dont even accept the ladinos (half-breeds). They arent integrated into Mexico, its language or its legal regime.
Just an example: In Sabanilla, Chiapas those Indians dont even bother to educate themselves past the second grade of elementary school, because when they are in their pre-teens, all they want to do is get married, procreate more Indians, and keep on working.
The historical failure from the federal government to merge Chiapas ethnicities into the national route of modernization has its consequences. One is inter-community and family violence.
If Bishop Ruiz and the slew of non-governmental organizations want to circumscribe the bloody facts of Acteal to the simplistic theories of priista vs Zapatista, or Zapatistas vs government and the army or even Catholics against Protestants, they are wrong.
The problem is more serious. The events that led to the death of 45 in Acteal involves a bloody feud between Indians, be they Catholics, Protestant, Zapatista or priista.
Prior to the Acteal massacre, Indians from this community had murdered Indians from other communities. Just an example: In October, at least four Indians were assassinated and six others injured by machete in Pantelho. What took place Dec. 22 in Acteal was nothing more than revenge for previous murders left unsolved and ignored.
Of course this doesnt take away the responsibility of seeking justice, in spite of all the ignored warning signs. Therefore it is understandable the state District Attorney Marco Antonio Bezares is being asked to step down. By the way Antonio Bezares may be substituted by Cuautehmoc Lopez Sanchez, the President of the Chiapas Human Rights State Commission. State Public Safety Director Homero Tovilla Cristiani may also be replaced (possible substitute: Javier Espinoza Mandujano, director of the Chiapas Arts and Science Institute, or Arturo Morales Uriostegui, Tovillas advisor).
In short Chiapas must be disarmed - including the Zapatisitas. It must be injected with a long-term, serious program of investment and socio-economic development.
And, by the way, other programs are needed in Vera Cruz, Oaxaca, Campech, Yucatan, Tabasco, or Quintana Roo in order to avoid a re-enactment of what happened Jan. 1, 1994.