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Conflicting Forces in Chiapas



     WAIS pays special attention to Mexico because of its importance and its proximity to the United States. Chiapas is now the battlefield for several international forces competing to fill in the vacuum left by the disappearance of the Soviet Union. The first is Cuba, which recently staged its mass conference of Third World countries. It is behind the Zapatista EZLN. The second is the Catholic Church, which, like Islam, hopes to attract the resentful poor. For the Catholic Church, Latin America is the main target. The other forces are the two varieties of representative democracy, "liberal " and "anti-liberal" respectively.
     The clash of these forces came with the installation of Felipe Arizmendi as Bishop if San Cristóbal de las Casas. Archbishops came from all over Mexico, and he was welcomed by his predecessor, Samuel Ruiz. The illusory nature of Castro's reconciliation with the Vatican and the European Union was evident, first in Castro's denunciation of the European states for having voted in the UN in favor of a motion condemning Cuba's human rights record, and second in the mass protest of the EZLN against the ceremony of installation of the new Bishop, for which the cathedral was crowded. Bishop Arizmendi spoke feelingly of the Church's concern for the poor, echoing the Easter remarks of Pope John Paul II. The visiting prelates were blunt in their condemnation of the EZLN and its violence.
     Televisa was used to promote the attitude of the democratic parties, which had falsely accused Bishop Samuel Ruiz of supporting the EZLN. Televisa conducted one of its polls, asking whether viewers favored the Catholic Church as mediator in the Chiapas dispute. The voters had a TV set and a telephone, and they did not represent the masses of the poor. Mexico City itself is the feud of non-believer Cárdenas. It is not surprising therefore that a large majority of the voters opposed the mediation of the Catholic Church. However, it was now clear that the Catholic Church does not support the EZLN and other guerrilla groups.
     As for the liberal and anti-liberal democrats, the "cook" continued like Elian to serve as a symbol of the struggle between two rival groups. Televisa conducted the first live interview with him. He told the story of his life in jails, where he has served as a cook or busboy. A fascinating story, but it is still not clear whether his account supports the Federal government or that of Mexico City. Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting episode.

Ronald Hilton - 5/2/00


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