Zapatista March Arrives in Mexico City

Chiapas Bishop Calls for Rejection of Hardline Positions

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SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico, MAR. 11, 2001 ( On the day that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) led a demonstration in Mexico City to make their claims for Indian rights heard, a bishop in the guerrillas´ state of Chiapas expressed the hope that the event would serve to foster national harmony.

“If we want a just, worthy and fraternal peace for Chiapas and Mexico, we must reject intransigent postures, degrading offenses and totalitarian disqualifications,” said Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristóbal de las Casas.

But he added: “In a plural and democratic system, a minority cannot impose its own concept of the state, justice, the economy and democracy.”

“Concepts and different options must be analyzed, discussed and, if agreed, legally approved but not imposed in an absolutist way,” the Chiapas bishop said in his Sunday homily.

Following a 15-day march from the southern state of Chiapas, Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos and 23 guerrilla chiefs led a manifestation in the “Zocalo,” across from the National Palace, in Mexico City.

“Welcome Subcomandante Marcos; welcome Zapatistas. Welcome to the political arena, to the discussion of ideas,” President Vicente Fox said in his Saturday radio program.

The peace dialogue has been interrupted since 1996, when the EZLN accused the previous government of not complying with a series of agreements on Indians´ rights.

Although the Zapatistas did not hand over their arms to the authorities during the march through Mexican states, several federal and state police units helped to clear the way for them and guarantee their security.

The 24 EZLN leaders plan to meet with lawmakers on Monday and Friday. They said they would not leave the city until the Indians´ rights are recognized, including greater autonomy.

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