SIPAZ Activities (September – November 2001)


10th of January

The army abandons the Cuxuljá military encampment in the municipality of Ocosingo.

17th of January

The military base in the community of Roberto Barrios, in the municipality of Ocosingo, is dismantled.

24th of February

23 commanders and Subcomandante Marcos leave from five points in Chiapas towards Mexico City. Approximately 20,000 people receive the caravan in San Cristóbal.

5th of March

The five thousand participating delegates in the Third National Indigenous Congress (CNI) agree to carry out a peaceful national indigenous uprising to demand the approval of the COCOPA law. They turn over their representation to the EZLN. A commission of the CNI accompanies the Zapatistas to the Congress of the Union.

12th of March

After visiting twelve states in Mexico, the Zapatista delegation is received by more than 100,000 people in the centre of Mexico City.

19th of March

President Fox announces the withdrawal of the army from the Zapatista community Guadalupe Tepeyac.

28th of March

After long debates regarding how to make use of the platform, 23 commanders of the EZLN finally arrive to speak in the Congress of the Union. Commander Esther makes it known that the EZLN will not make any military advances on the positions recently vacated by the army and also that Fernando Yañez has been designated as the official messenger of the Zapatistas before the government. Yañez meets with the Commissioner for Peace, Luis H. Alvarez, to initiate discussion concerning compliance with the Zapatista conditions.

19th of April

Eleven members of Peace and Justice are exonerated of serious crimes and set free on bail. NGOs denounce the action as a political decision and a crime against justice.

25th of April

The Senate of the Republic approves a constitutional reform on indigenous matters.

26th of April

The National Indigenous Congress affirms that the indigenous law approved by the Senate ignores important points of the San Andres Accords.

27th of April

The Chamber of Deputies approves the Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture, with 386 votes in favour and 60 against.

29th of April

Zapatista communiqué: “The EZLN formally rejects the constitutional reform on indigenous culture and rights. It does not take up the spirit of the San Andres Accords, nor does it respect the COCOPA law initiative, and it completely ignores the national and international demand for recognition of indigenous rights and culture.” In consequence, it breaks off dialogue with the government.

From April of 2001 to December of 2002

The EZLN remains silent.

1 May

A communiqué from the Peace Commissioner notes: the law passed by Congress “contains unprecedented advances that are without doubt important for our nation. But it has also been recognized that it should be extended on some of the central issues.”

14th of June

“The Zapatista issue is not by any means the issue of Mexico. One has to consider it [the issue] in its rightful context; additionally there is a very firm process of conflict deactivation. In fact, there is no conflict, we are in blessed peace.” (President Fox, speaking in El Salvador)

22nd of June

Rodolfo Stavenhagen is named as Special Reporter to the UN for the human rights situation and fundamental liberties of indigenous peoples.

3rd of July

1,400 writers, intellectuals, religious, academics, and human rights defenders as well as Mexican and foreign NGOs call on the congresses of various Mexican states not to approve the indigenous law.

11th of July

“The Call from the South: the legislative and executive powers of Oaxaca and Chiapas call on the state congresses that have not yet voted to reject the Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture.

18th of July

After its approval in a majority of state congresses, the indigenous reform goes into effect. The Presidency makes known its stance a few hours later: it fully backs the Congress.

30th of July

Thousands of indigenous people block the principal highways of Chiapas to make known their rejection of the Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture and the Plan Puebla Panama [a co-ordinated plan adopted by Mexico and other Central American governments to open up the south of Mexico and Central America to capitalist development and foreign investment].

14th of August

Publication of the Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture in the Official Journal of the Federation.

24th of August

Signing of an agreement between Las Abejas and the municipal authorities of Chenalhó. The majority of the displaced Abejas then begin to return to their communities (until October).

July to October

A total of 330 constitutional controversies are presented to Mexico’s Supreme Court.

11th of September

Black Wednesday in the US. Military forces step up their vigilance in Chiapas, especially along the Guatemalan border, in the Northern Zone, and in strategic areas.

8th of October

Mexico becomes a member of the UN Security Council after twenty years of absence.

The PRI retains its majority in the Chiapas Congress with 48% voter absenteeism. It triumphs in eighteen of twenty-one districts (the PRD takes two and the PAN, one), and en 72 of 118 mayoralties (PRD 19, PAN 11).

19th of October

The assassination of Digna Ochoa, lawyer and human rights defender. More than eighty NGOs demand an independent investigation into her assassination.

1st of November

The Network of Community Defenders of Human Rights brings to the ILO a petition, with 13,000 signatures, against the reforms on indigenous issues.

21st of November

A federal judge exonerates of all charges six of the 87 indigenous people implicated in the massacre in Acteal. The state government, indigenous organizations, and COCOPA legislators make known their disagreement with this decision, as it sends out a message of impunity.

7th of December

During the year, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights has documented 45 cases of human rights violations in Chiapas. It declares that it is an important decrease compared to previous governments, but at the same time the fact that there have not been forceful responses to the denunciations “opens the door for more violations to continue to be committed.”