Posted by rdom on January 11, 1998 at 15:04:11:
The governor of Mexico's troubled southern state of Chiapas resigned after the
recent massacre of unarmed Indian refugees in his state caused
an international uproar.
Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro became the second high-ranking
official to step down following the Dec. 22 massacre, in which
paramilitary gunmen slaughtered 45 defenseless refugees,
shooting many of them in the back.
Tensions still simmered in the strife-torn state, however.
The pro-Indian Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN),
whose supporters were massacred, accused the army of trying to
provoke rebels into outright war.
``To date, the EZLN has maneuvered to avoid fighting with
federal army troops ... but from one moment to the next there
could be armed conflict...'' rebel leader Subcommander Marcos
said in a Jan. 5 statement obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
The Zapatistas blamed the government of President Ernesto
Zedillo for ordering the Dec. 22 massacre and also said Zedillo
had instructed the army to use public outrage over the massacre
as an excuse to enter Zapatista-held areas in search of arms.
``We will never give up our weapons,'' Marcos said.
Ruiz and former federal Interior Minister Emilio Chuayffet,
who stepped down Saturday, had come under fierce attack from
critics who claimed they knew that paramilitaries were planning
attacks on local Indians but failed to stop them.
Prosecutors have linked some of the 46 suspects arrested in
the case to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI),
of which both Ruiz and Chuayffet as well as President Ernesto
Zedillo are members.
Ruiz, who said he hoped his resignation would help peace in
the region, was replaced by a PRI federal congressman from
Chiapas, Roberto Albores.
``Chiapas needs an enormous effort for reconciliation,'' the
new governor told lawmakers. ``I am coming to risk everything
Albores, a member of the first congressional delegation to
negotiate with Marcos, reputedly has good relations with all
sides involved in the Zapatista conflict, including the
pro-Indian local Catholic Church.
But Albores' arrival as an unelected, substitute governor at
a post that has seen four predecessors since the Zapatista's
first burst onto the scene in 1994 was greeted with a riot of
``We want no imposed governors,'' chanted dozens of Indian
women gathered outside the state congress. ``Peace for
Chenalho,'' they cried, referring to the municipality where the
massacre took place.
Chiapas, a poor tropical state on Mexico's southern border
with Central America, has been in turmoil ever since the
Zapatistas short-lived rebellion.
Two weeks of fighting caused about 140 deaths, but since
then an estimated 500 people have been killed in political
clashes and land disputes linked to the guerrilla conflict.
Opposition leaders called for criminal charges to be brought
against Ruiz for the massacre, in which 39 of the 45 victims
were women or children.
``Ruiz Ferro is responsible by omission and incompetence in
the massacre of 45 Indians,'' state congressman Arturo Perez
told the chamber.
On a wall outside the chamber, a picture of the former
governor Ruiz in Nazi uniform was emblazoned with the legend:
``the Hitler of Chiapas.''
Post a Followup