Tensions Rise in Mexican State of Chiapas

Diocese is Categorically Opposed to the Use of Arms

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SAN CRISTOBAL, Mexico, JUNE 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas put his diocese on «pastoral alert,» responding to the possibility of military activity from the rebel Zapatista group.

On Tuesday, and without any explanations, the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) headed by «sub-commander Marcos,» put its troops on «red alert» in the southeastern state of Chiapas in Mexico.

The rebel group took up arms against the Mexican state in January 1994, when at least 150 people died in clashes.

Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal called for the final uprooting of the threat of arms, and put the diocese on «pastoral alert.»

The actions of the Zapatistas "are creating uncertainty in the communities, and we must be very close to our people, as always, to be ready and to see in what way we can help the peace process, but also to continue the work for justice in the communities, which in the end is the root of all the problems,» the bishop said.

«The information we have from all the priests who were here today, is that they have not seen any exceptional mobilization,» he added.

When explaining that he does not know the reasons why the EZLN has raised the situation to «red alert,» Bishop Arizmendi Esquivel said because elections are coming, «they want to make their voice heard in some way as well.»

There will be general elections in Mexico and in the state of Chiapas in 2006.

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