Zapatistas call for humbled President Salinas to resign: Mexican reshuffle after insurgency prompts market slide

MEXICO'S Zapatista guerrillas, in their first communique since their 1 January insurgency, demanded the resignation of President Salinas de Gortari and his government and said their fight would spread beyond the southern state of Chiapas. They threatened to advance towards Mexico City if their demands, including recognition as combatants under the Geneva Convention, were not met.

The guerrillas, fighting under the banner of the revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, called for a ceasefire and an end to United States military and economic aid to Mexico.

The statement by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) appeared here shortly after President Salinas, facing possibly Mexico's worst crisis since the 1910-17 revolution, sacked his Interior Minister and reshuffled his cabinet as a concession to the insurgents.

In an admission of mistakes rare in his Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mr Salinas said his reshuffle - sacking the Interior Minister, Jose Patrocinio Gonzalez, and switching the Foreign Minister, Manuel Camacho Solis, to head a special Commission for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas - was 'a recognition of what had not functioned' and 'to prevent the dynamic of the grave events in Chiapas from leading to more confrontations'.

Mr Camacho said yesterday he was willing to talk to the rebels. He had not contacted them but was to travel to the conflict zone today.

The guerrillas' statement was dated 6 January, pre-dating Mr Salinas's shock announcement, and was not therefore a reaction to the President's most humbling decision in more than five years in power. Their first important victory - the sacking of Mr Gonzalez, a former Chiapas governor - appeared likely to give the peasant rebels a taste for more, rather than for giving up.

The EZLN statement was signed by EZLN Deputy-commander Marcos, and datelined 'somewhere in the south-eastern Mexican mountains'. He is Mexico's most hunted man, since no one knows who the top guerrilla commander is, or indeed whether there is someone superior to the charismatic, multilingual, green-eyed man in a balaclava who calmly chatted to reporters and tourists in San Cristobal the EZLN takeover on New Year's Day.

The neatly written computer statement in stylish Spanish said the EZLN's basic aim was to 'bring to the attention of the people of Mexico and the world the miserable conditions in which millions of Mexicans, especially we the indigenous population, live'. It said the Zapatistas had captured, but freed unharmed, 180 Mexican soldiers who had surrendered. Addressing the Mexican army, it said: 'If you begin attacking our families and do not respect the lives of wounded and prisoners, we will begin doing the same.'

Both the EZLN and latest Defence Ministry statements said fighting continued in the town of Ocosingo, cut off from the outside world. The guerrillas' communique spoke of 21 Zapatistas and 27 Mexican troops killed in the first six days of the guerrilla war. It said that did not include Ocosingo because of the continued fighting but that the army had 'executed Zapatistas in cold blood with a coup de grace' there. Foreign reporters had seen at least five - some spoke of nine - guerrillas who appeared to have been bound and executed in Ocosingo last week. 'We call for the resignation of the illegitimate government of Salinas de Gortari and the formation of a government of democratic transition to guarantee clean elections throughout the country.'

The appointment of Mr Solis as peace commissioner was a dramatic move by Mr Salinas, partly due to a catastrophic slide in the Mexican stock market on Monday. Mr Salinas announced the reshuffle as the stock market closed more than 6 per cent down on the day in reaction to last weekend's bombs in Mexico City and Acapulco.

'We want to unite the people of Mexico in a national movement,' the EZLN statement said. Contradicting government claims, it insisted it was an entirely Mexican Indian movement with no ties to or support from Guatemalan, Salvadorean or other foreign guerrillas. It denied any connection or support from the Catholic or any other church.

'Our arms and equipment were obtained little by little, silently, over 10 years . . . We tried every other peaceful and legal route without success. During these last 10 years, 150,000 of our indigenous brothers have died of curable illnesses. All the government gives us is charity at election time. . . Afterwards, death returns to our homes. That's why we now say 'enough of dying for nothing'.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor