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February 24 to March 11, 2001

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The Drug-Free Zapatistas vs. The Narco State

But first...

Information in Rough Order of Importance:

A. The Minimum Demands for Dialogue

1. Withdrawl of Mexican Armed Forces from Seven Bases

As of January 20, 2001, Indigenous Zapatistas of Chiapas have taken back one of the seven key positions, and President Vicente Fox has ordered the withdrawl from three more. Still remaining are the military bases in La Garrucha, Guadalupe Tepeyac and Rio Euseba.

2. Release of Zapatista Political Prisoners

As of January 17, 2001, 18 political prisoners have been released. More than 80 Zapatista political prisoners remain incarcerated in Chiapas, Tabasco and Querétaro, including our June 2000 drug war heroes of the month.

3. Passage into Law of the San Andrés Peace Accords

As of January 17, 2001, President Vicente Fox has sent the initiative of the Cocopa Peace Commission to the Federal Congress, the legislation that must be passed to comply with The San Andrés Accords. He has not made any serious lobbying effort upon their behalf. And key members of his own PAN party are making legislative attempts to block their passage. Specifically to address the Congress and mobilize the citizenry to demand compliance with this treaty, signed in 1996 by the Mexican government but never made law, the General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) will advance upon Mexico City via this historic caravan.

B. If you read Spanish...

Go directly to the official page:

C. Make a Contribution to the Peace Initiative

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation, through the new Zapatista Information Center, issues a call to national and international solidarity to support this peace initiative economically.
Deposit contributions of any size into the following bank account:
BANCOMER. Plaza 437. Número -500I060-5.
In the name of la Señora María del Rosario Ibarra.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.
Routing code for international contributions:

D. Inform the Zapatistas of Your Solidarity Efforts:

Messages Directed to the EZLN:
Messages regarding the official mailing list:
Messages related to the official web site:
If you wish to send an encrypted message to the EZLN, The PGP program is available at:

E. The Caravan Route and Itinerary

Updated on January 27!

As of January 27, 2001, the Zapatistas have announced the following information about the historic caravan to Mexico City:

1. It Will Travel Through Twelve States...

...Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracrúz, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Michoacan, the State of Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero, and back through Morelos on the way to Mexico City.
2. Here's the Route:
Official Schedule Announced by the EZLN
(With a few notes added by us about the places along the road)
New Info in Yellow...
Saturday, February 24: The Zapatista Delegations will leave from La Realidad, La Garrucha, Oventik and Moises Gandhi where Civil Society will meet them and with them converge upon San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
Sunday, February 25: The Zapatista Delegation leaves San Cristóbal, stopping briefly for a public event in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, and into the State of Oaxaca via Tapanatepec and La Ventosa. The delegation will stop to salute a concentration of indigenous allies at the border of Oaxaca. The Central Event will be in Juchitán, Oaxaca in front of City Hall. The delegates will spend the night in Juchitán. (More info soon on these pages about the history and struggles of Juchitán, the largest Indigenous City in América, and longtime friend of our publication. During the Zapatista Caravan of September 1997, more than 40,000 Juchitecos and Juchitecas came to welcome them in the Central Plaza.) Meanwhile, the Indigenous citizens of Juchitán -- the first city to rebel against Mexico's ruling party in 1982 -- are demanding that the military remove its checkpoint near their city during the Zapatista Caravan.
Monday, February 26: Passing through Tehuantepec and Villa de Mitla, the Caravan travels to the state capital, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, where it will spend the night. (Also during the Caravan of 1997, a grand multitude waited seven hours in the cold rain for the Zapatista Caravan, filling the Plaza of the Dances and all nearby streets, waiting until well after midnight for the Caravan to arrive).
From Oaxaca, the Caravan then takes a different route than the 1,111 Zapatista Delegates took in 1997:
Tuesday, February 27: Passing through with brief stops in Tehuacán, Puebla, and Orizaba, Veracrúz, the Central Event will be in the Central Square of the state capital of Puebla, Puebla. The delegation will spend the night in Puebla.
Wednesday, February 28: The delegation passes through Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, Emiliano Zapata, Hidalgo, Cuidad Sahagún, Hidalgo, the state capital of Pachuca, Hidalgo, Actopan Hidalgo, Francisco I. Madero, Hidalgo, and Tepatepec, Hidalgo. The Central Event will be in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. The delegates will spend the night in the community of Tephé, in the municipality of Ixmiquilpan.
Thursday, March 1: The Caravan will pass through the state capital of Querétaro, Quéretaro (new home to retired Chiapas Bishop Samuel Ruiz, where there are Zapatista political prisoners incarcerated, and where El Barzon will join the caravan with 1,000 horses and tractors). It will then pass through Acámbaro, Guanajuato (home state of Mexican President Vicente Fox) and on through communities in the State of Michoacán: The delegation will briefly stop to salute supporters in de Zinapécuaro, Morelia, Patzcuaro and Uruapan. The Central Event will be in Nurio, Michoacán. The Delegates will spend the night there.
Friday, March 2: The EZLN Delegation will participate in the work of the Third Indigenous National Congress in Nurio, Michoacán. NOTE: The Indigenous National Congress has asked all participants and observers to bring our own utensils (bowl and spoon) because they will not be using plastic or paper plates.
Saturday, March 3: More work at the CNI Congress. See our page in solidarity with the CNI.
Sunday, March 4: Still more work to do at the CNI Congress.
Monday, March 5: The Delegates will stop for a planned event in the state capital of Morelia and then pass through Zitácuaro, Michoacán, and enter the State of Mexico. There will be a rally in Toluca and another in the Otomí zone of Temoaya. The delegation will "share bread and roof with our brothers and sisters" of the Andrés Molina Enriquez housing project known as "La Pila" in the town of Metepec.
Tuesday, March 6: The Zapatista Delegation will pass through Cuernavaca, Morelos, and then to Tepoztlán, Morelos, where it will spend the night. (The 1997 Caravan stopped in Tepoztlán, arrived after midnight in the cold rain, and was greeted by an enthusiastic multitude in this rebel indigenous community that is a good friend of our publication. More information forthcoming.)
Wednesday, March 7: The EZLN Delegation will leave from Tepoztlan, Morelos, directly toward the city of Iguala, Guerrero, where the Central Event will be held. The Delegates will return to Cuautla, Morelos at 7 p.m. (In Cuautla lies in state the tomb of General Emiliano Zapata. In the nearby community of Aninecuilco, Zapata's was born and the ruins of his home still stand. Also nearby, Chinameca, where history says Zapata was assassinated. But Zapata still lives!)

Related to the rally in Iguala, on February 21st, simultaneous marches will leave 30 of the 76 municipalities in the State of Guerrero, converging on the capital of Chilpancingo on February 24 for a three day encampment in the State Capital, organized by Indigenous communities from the organization "500 Years of Resistance." On February 27th it will march, by foot, toward Mexico City, and will meet up with the Indigenous National Congress and Zapatista Command along the route. (Some observers without auto transportation might choose this route, which, because of the unique and longstanding tradition of struggle among Guerrerenses, and the quality of friendliness and openness that characterizes the region, is certain to be a moving and historic procession.)

Thursday, March 8: The Delegation of the EZLN leaves from Cuautla, Morelos, following the route of Emiliano Zapata, toward Milpa Alta in the Federal District of Mexico City. The Central Event will be in Milpa Alta. The Delegation will spend the night there. (Bring a sweater: the route rises to a high altitude, through rebel Indigenous communities like Felipe Neri, with a spectacular vista of the El Popo volcano.)

Friday, March 9: The Zapatista Delegates will hold a public event in the morning at the Zapatista military base from Zapata's time in San Pablo Oxtotepec. Again, they will spend the night in Milpa Alta.

Saturday, March 10: The Zapatista Delegation will head to Xochimilco, also in the Federal District of Mexico City.

Sunday, March 11: The EZLN Delegation will make its official entrance into Mexico City. The Route will be detailed in due time. The Central Act will be on the Zócalo -- the central plaza and heart of Mexico City in front of the National Palace. Nobel Laureate José Saramago has just announced that he will come from Portugal for this event.

The agenda of the Zapatista Delegation in Mexico City will be made known in due time. The recent communiqué states that the delegation will remain in Mexico City "until there is a dialogue with Congress."

As soon as more details are available, we will translate and post them here at:

3. March 2nd through 4th, Indigenous National Congress in Nurio, Michoacan

In a January 12th communiqué, the Zapatista General Command asked the P´urhepecha Indigenous Community of Nurio, Michoacan, for permission to attend the Indigenous National Congress meeting there March 2nd through 4th.
On January 19th, the Indigenous National Congress confirmed the invitation and attendance of the Zapatistas. A link to its web page appears below in the links section.

F. Analysis and Call

On the Road With the Zapatistas

Participate in Authentic Global Media Coverage

by Al Giordano

Thousands of Mexicans and citizens throughout the world have accompanied the Zapatistas for the past seven years as human rights observers and journalists. We have attended the "Encuentros" and "Intergalactic Congresses," been guests in the indigenous communities, reported from the five "Aguascalientes" support bases and from the encampment of thousands of displaced families in Polho. Still others have worked as observers with Enlace Civil and the Catholic Diocese of Chiapas in various communities.

Until recently, we were chased by immigration authorities and more than 400 were expelled or deported from Mexico. Every single one of these observers has lived his and her personal history, dealt with harassment by immigration, military and police roadblocks. Many have found ourselves on "blacklists" of foreign observers to be deported, or have been detained and questioned ("No, Señor, I'm just a tourist trying to find my way to Palenque!"). Some have been kidnapped by paramilitary groups. Some have escaped pursuit by the authorities through long jungle journeys. It's been a long but worthwhile road.

Thus, the recent announcement by the administration of President Vicente Fox that foreign observers will be permitted with regular tourist visas to accompany the Zapatista Caravan to Mexico City is a bit stunning. If true -- and it should be kept in mind that this young administration has been changing its positions almost daily regarding the Zapatistas -- it means a potentially different situation.

But one thing remains the same: the importance of understanding that observers are guests of the Indigenous communities or caravans they accompany, and at all times we look to the Zapatistas and the communities to guide the parameters of our participation. "Obedience leads" is more than a slogan. It is, for this Caravan, essential to the safety of the Zapatista Command, the Indigenous National Congress, the communities along the route, and the other participants. We don't, indeed can't, offer those instructions here. We, like others, wait to receive them. International participants should make direct contact with the EZLN and the Caravan support committee at the addresses provided above, who are in charge of all aspects of this Caravan.

Government Policy of "Opening"?

Conflicting Words on Foreign Observers

The shifting positions of the Fox administration indicate that great caution and care is necessary on behalf of foreign observers and journalists that will accompany this caravan.

In the first days of his administration, Fox said that there would be an "opening" of the immigration policy and that observers were now welcome from everywhere to accompany the Zapatista communities in Chiapas. "We're going to sustain this measure of total opening to visit our country or travel in Chiapas," said Fox on December 23rd (source: NOTIMEX, December 23, 2000).

But on January, 9th, Fox's Subsecretary of Population and Migratory Services, Víctor Mariel Soule, announced, "Yes, here there will be restrictions" on foreigners accompanying the Caravan. "We have to analyze, precisely, why they come, because we remind that the problem is in Chiapas, and if they ten come here (to Mexico City), we have to see in what quality they come, what they are doing. Are they really doing programs of observation? Or do they arrive already belonging to some contingent or conducting some other kind of activity. Evidently, we're going to have to place some restrictions.... We remind that the people who come as human rights observers (must come with) a migratory classification with certain restrictions." (source: El Universal, January 9, 2001)

Most recently, on January 17th, the Interior Ministry overruled the Subsecretary's remarks and announced that "foreign tourists" who accompany the Zapatista Caravan will not require a special visa and "as long as they don't engage in any activist intervention they can be present. If not, we will apply Article 33." (Article 33, prohibiting foreign meddling in Mexican political affairs, although it was never applied to Fox's US political consultants, was the pretext to expell and harass foreign observers and journalists from Chiapas for seven years.)

Citing the "policy of opening," Immigration Commissioner Felipe de Jesús Preciado Coronado announced that California professor Peter Brown, previously expelled from the country for helping to construct a school in Oventik, will be granted permission to attend, and that other expelled observers have solicited permission to return for the Caravan: "We will study their applications in the spirit of opening." He said that the foreigners "are going to participate, but as spectators; there is worry all over the world about this march."

After firing off a few disparaging remarks about the "Zapa-tour" and "revolutionary tourism," the Immigration Commissioner added, "We are very conscious that there is enourmous interest throught the entire world to see what happens in Chiapas, and that Marcos has a grand following among international non governmental organizations. To participate in this Zapatista March can be one of the most important moments in the lives of any foreigner who has a chance to be there: they are going to be with the Indigenous of Chiapas, and there is a long history there." (source: El Universal, January 17, 2001)

For once we agree. Beginning in 1997, I joined the ranks of these countless visitors, and headed into Chiapas. First, with the Todo Para Todos Caravan and don Andrés Vasquez de Santiago of the Indigenous National Congress. I spent some weeks in Oventik, in the Tzotzil-speaking highlands, and later in the "Aguascalientes" of Roberto Barrios and La Realidad, and still later in the desplazados camp of Polho. These are the places where I learned to speak and read in Spanish. In September 1997, I accompanied the caravan of 1,111 Zapatistas to Mexico City, through Juchitán, Oaxaca City and Huajuapan de Leon in the State of Oaxaca, through the states of Puebla and Morelos and on to Mexico City. It was a whirlwind four-day trek, accompanied by members of many Indigenous ethnic groups along the road and culminating in a session of the Indigenous National Congress in Mexico City. I've returned to many of those communities since, where lasting friendships and alliances were formed.

In 1999, I accompanied the Zapatista Consulta delegations in Mexico City, Morelos and Guerrero, and also the 11-day "Exodus for Democracy" against election fraud from Chilpancingo, Guerrero to Mexico City. The Immigration Commissioner is right about one thing: these were formative moments for me and for others who were present. Our personal debt remains to offer Authentic Journalism coverage of the historic Zapatista movement to the English speaking world.

Fox and Zapatismo:

Where Worlds Collide

Mexican President Vicente Fox, like any other politician in this world, has been criticized in these pages when he's been wrong and praised when he's been right.

His Chiapas policy, which started with a string of positive declarations and a few good actions, has recently become pushed and pulled by other interests, foreign and domestic, financial and political.

Upon taking office in early December, Fox declared that he would meet the three Zapatista conditions to resume the dialogue. He temporarily took down the roadblocks that surround Chiapas Indigenous communities.

But Hermann Bellinghausen (bar none, the most experienced and honest journalist in the world covering Mexican indigenous issues) reported recently that twenty of those roadblocks have been reinstalled in the jungle municipalities of Ocosingo, Las Margaritas and Palenque in Chiapas. (Source: La Jornada, January 10, 2001).

Fox said he would withdraw troops from the seven among 123 military bases that the Zapatistas placed as a condition of dialogue. Seven weeks later, he has yet to remove the three most strategic bases on the list: La Garrucha (next to the Zapatista "Aguascalientes" known by the same name), and the two that surround La Realidad, where the Zapatista command appears, Guadelupe Tepeyac and Río Euseba.

Fox said he would facilitate the release of more than 100 Zapatista political prisoners. Today, seven weeks later, more than 80 remain unjustly in prison.

Last week, on January 16th, his press secretary Martha Sahagún announced there would be no more troop withdrawls. Later that same day, the military base at Roberto Barrios was ordered to withdraw, and evacuated in the pre-dawn hours of January 17th.

On January 19th, Fox reportedly reversed his policy entirely.

Speaking in a closed door session to members of the media in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, "Fox said that there will be no more Army troop withdrawls from Zapatista enclaves beyond the four already realized, while the EZLN doesn't offer signs of response to the actions of the federal government.... Vincente Fox also said that no more prisoners will be freed... This announcement was also transmitted by a local radio station... However, (Fox) refused to confirm or deny the declaration that he made at this meeting with the editors of the local media, which occured behind closed doors." (Source: El Universal, January 20, 2001).

Meanwhile, certain members of Fox's PAN party and of the old PRI regime, particularly in the federal senate, have been saber-rattling against the Zapatistas marching with their pasamontaña ski masks, even some calling for their arrest. The national chambers of commerce announced their view that Fox was giving too much away in his efforts to bring the Zapatistas to the negotiating table. On Saturday, January 20th, Fox met with the chiefs of the National Chamber of Transformation Industry (CANACINTRA), the Business Coordinating Board, the Federation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), the National Chamber of Commerce (CANACO), the National Agriculture Council, the Mexican Board of Businessmen, the Bankers Association, the Mexican Insurance Association and the Mexican Association of Stock Brokers.

They asked Fox to prohibit the Zapatista Caravan. As if he could.

Wall Street vs. Indigenous Autonomy

But the most nefarious scenario being predicted would come from abroad: from the great financial powers of Washington and Wall Street, who do not want the San Andrés Peace Agreements made law for the precedent of local autonomy that they would establish: a goal that much of the world follows in demanding.

In recent Mexican presidential terms, which begin every six years, the term began with a financial crisis and a devaluation of the peso in relation to the dollar. This, to ensure that the Mexican Nation is economically weak and must answer to the dictates of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the US government and the financial interests that it serves.

Some US and Mexican financial and governmental powers have loudly sought to assure that it will be different under Fox, that there will be no devaluation. However, recent economic reports and statements have indicated that, indeed, a devaluation of the peso is coming. In fact it's been slipping all month.

On the day that George W. Bush, through an act of election fraud, took the presidency of the United States, La Jornada columnist Jaime Avilés, made a prediction:

"In early December, an important financial broker of Wall Street predicted with hard data that in the first trimester of 2001, "at the latest, in March," our national currency will suffer a soft and controlled adjustment. The experts predicted that the new exchange rate will be fixed at more than 10 pesos to the dollar but fewer than 11 to the dollar. January has not concluded and already we are at 9.90 pesos to the dollar, but the signals are that the slowdown of the US economy threatens to bring us a little farther below in this pending matter...

These are times of change, according the the flaming governmental propaganda, but in the facts -- once more, in the facts -- the economic fall that comes tends to be paired with the permanent crisis in Chiapas. If the devaluation is going to coincide with the trip by Marcos and the Comandantes of the EZLN to Mexico City, the press that nobody reads (those daily newspapers that only serve to hang from the newstands and be seen by the passers-by) have launched a Zedillo-style campaign to blame the indigenous rebels beforehand of what could occur in the economic sphere.

This is not about, however, a spontanous action by the marginal media. The grand Salinista businessmen of Monterrey and other places are contributing, with anonymous Internet reports, to this campaign to impose upon Fox that the model of "poverty that stabilizes economies" remains unalterable.

The powerful captains of those financial groups that are owners of 70 percent of everything that is in Mexico wish that the Southeast would be free of unconquerable indigenous people.... (Source: La Jornada, January 20, 2001).

In sum, precisely the days of February 25th through March 6th and beyond, world financial powers and the New Mexican Oligarchy, may attempt to play market games to harm the Mexican economy and blame the Zapatista Caravan.

This, again, points to the importance that those who accompany the caravan pay close attention to the letter and the spirit of the instructions given by the Zapatistas who are leading the long march. They're the experts of struggle and victory. The rest of us are students.

Authentic Press Coverage

We invite other authentic journalists, photographers, videographers, individuals, solidarity organizations, Internet sites, mailing lists and media organizations of all languages, to collaborate with us in the construction of daily online coverage of this historic Zapatista Caravan.

We of course will make the pages of The Narco News Bulletin available for reports, and will also post some reports to the Indy Media Center site of Mexico City, the new Indy Media Center of Chiapas, and other open access sites to get the daily news to the world, including to the English speaking world. Various important and authentic Mexican news organizations are discussing with us how to join efforts to provide day to day coverage.

It will require a gargantuan effort and will also require Internet and phone connections along the long caravan route, cell phones, phone-ins from public telephones, photographs, audio and video, and, last but not least, vehicles along the long route. We already have compañeros and compañeras along the former Caravan route; we, too, are awaiting instructions on the road from here.

Last night we heard from Juchitán, Oaxaca, and Querétaro, Querétaro (they're ready!), where our correspondent sent a message from don Andrés that, at 90 years old, he wants to make the entire journey beginning in San Cristóbal...

Don Andrés Vasquez de Santiago

Member, Indigenous National Congress

Photo 1998 Al Giordano

If you are going to accompany the march, and wish to participate in this all volunteer effort, please contact us at so that we can coordinate this effort in Authentic Journalism with the participation of the citizenry.

Vamos, vamos, vamos adelante....

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

January 21, 2001

Previous Narco News Stories on the Struggle:

Nine Months of Immediate History:

June 2000 Series on the Narco in Chiapas

Part 1: Welcome to Chiapas

Part 2: Tapachula: Gateway to the Cocaine Trail

Part 3: Drugs, the Official Passport to the North

Part 4: Why Some drugs Are Seized

Part 5: The Rebels, Not the Government, Slowed the Drug Trade
Part 6: Chabal Tak'in: "There is no Money"
Part 7: The Colonel and His Troops
Part 8: The State Police Station
Part 9: Drug War Political Prisoners at Cerro Hueco

July and August Election Coverage

Marcos on July 2, 2000 Elections

Marcos on the Media

August 21 Analysis of Chiapas Election

Mexican Transition Series

(November 2000 to Present)

Part I: Mexico's Next Secretary of State says Legalize Drugs

II: Fox's 1st Challenge is to enact the Chiapas San Andrés Accords

(includes translation of the San Andrés Agreement)

III: Fox Names Drug Reformer Gertz as Nation's Top Cop

IV: Answer the Call to Mexico City, February 2001

V: Marcos to Zedillo: "You Lost the War"

VI: A Play in Two Acts by Marcos

VII. Marcos Welcomes Fox: "You Start from Zero"

VIII. The Fine Print: Two More EZLN Communiqués

IX. New Years 2001: Zapatistas Beat Army

X. Zapatista Caravan Communiqué

Amnesty 2000: Update on Political Prisoners

The Narco News Bulletin features reports from throughout América

We break the Information Blockade on the Failed War on Drugs

We Tell the Truth About U.S. Meddling in Sovereign Affairs

We Are Being Sued by Mexico's Wealthiest Banker

It's An Honor

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