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50–538 CC








JULY 29, 1998

Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations

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BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
JAY KIM, California
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
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RICHARD BURR, North Carolina
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
PAT DANNER, Missouri
BRAD SHERMAN, California
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
LOIS CAPPS, California
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
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Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
ELTON GALLEGLY, California, Chairman
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
JAY KIM, California
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
BRAD SHERMAN, California
VINCE MORELLI, Subcommittee Staff Director
PAUL BONICELLI, Professional Staff Member
DAVID ADAMS, Democratic Professional Staff Member


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    Dr. Roderic Ai Camp, Professor of Latin American Studies, Claremont McKenna College, and Adjunct Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Mr. Carlos Tello Diaz, Independent Mexican Scholar
    Mr. Joel Solomon, Research Director for the Americas, Human Rights Watch
Prepared statements:
Hon. Gary L. Ackerman, a Representative in Congress from New York
Mr. Carlos Tello Diaz
Mr. Joel Solomon, plus attachment
Dr. Michael W. Foley, Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace 1

1 Dr. Foley was not a witness at the hearing, but did submit a statement for the record.

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere,
Committee on International Relations,
Washington, DC.
    The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:32 p.m. in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Elton Gallegly (chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. I will call the Subcommittee hearing to order.
    Today, the Subcommittee will hold the first of two hearings on what many consider to be the remaining serious conflicts in the hemisphere.
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    Since 1994, the Mexican Government has been involved in an on again/off again campaign to resolve its internal conflict in its southern state of Chiapas. Unfortunately, the conflict has often been violent, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians and numerous accusations of human rights abuses on both sides.
    While the Mexican Government has rightly suggested that this issue is an internal matter for the Mexicans alone to resolve, the instability, violence, and disregard for human rights which has been a part of the Chiapas conflict does raise questions regarding political and economic stability within Mexico, and serves to divert the government's attention from other critical issues that the Nation faces, including relations with the United States.
    Our look today at the situation in Chiapas is solely intended to be educational in nature and intended to give the Members of the Subcommittee some basic understanding of the conflict so that each Member can fully appreciate the complexity of this issue. I want to stress this point, especially for our guests from the Mexican press.
    The important nature of U.S.-Mexican relations requires us to fully understand those issues which, without proper exposure to and appreciation for, could serve to strain our relationship or poison the well of good neighborship. This is especially true when the issue of human rights is involved.
    Today's hearing is not an attempt to determine who is right or who is wrong in this dispute. The Subcommittee's hope, however, is that both the Government of Mexico and the representatives of the EZLN, or Zapatista movement, as they are known, will resume negotiations and seek to resolve the conflict in a peaceful and equitable way without any further loss of life on either side.
    In that vein, the Subcommittee does want to note that recent communications from the EZLN, along with President Zedillo's recent and sixth visit to Chiapas, appear to be a positive sign that both sides may be interested in restarting negotiations.
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    We have a distinguished panel of witnesses before us today who will hopefully enlighten us on the Subcommittee on the Chiapas conflict, and I want to express my appreciation to them for coming here today.
    Before we turn to the panel, I would just ask if we have any other Members that have an opening statement.
    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Chairman, I do not have an opening statement, but certainly this is an item that the Congress is concerned about. I share your concern about it, and I am grateful you are having this hearing today and look forward to the testimony from this outstanding panel you have put together.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. We have no other Members requesting to be heard but I will allow, without objection, all written statements to be entered into the record in their entirety, as well as other documents that we have received.
    With that, we will turn to our first witness, Dr. Roderic A. Camp, professor of Latin American Studies, Claremont McKenna College, and adjunct fellow, Center for Strategic International Studies.
    Dr. Camp.

    Mr. CAMP. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to offer some interpretations on the situation in Chiapas. I think to understand the present situation in Mexico's southern state, it is relevant to know some historical-political issues extending back to the beginning of the 19th century.
    First, Chiapas remains one of the states both geographically and culturally distant from the center of power, Mexico City. In fact, Chiapas attempted, at the time of Mexican independence, to attach itself to Guatemala.
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    Second, it is one of Mexico's three most rural populations and remains an important locale for indigenous groups, particularly those of Maya origins. Nearly 26 percent of the population speaks an indigenous dialect.
    Third, religiously, the state also is unique in a country which is 85 to 90 percent Catholic, since it has the highest percentage of Protestants and individuals declaring no religion in Mexico.
    Fourth, Chiapas is characterized by a long and tragic history of mestizo exploitation of the indigenous people and, therefore, the level of poverty is among the worst in the country. Racism abounds, reflected in the fact that only 2 percent of mestizo homicides against Indians lead to a conviction, compared to 28 percent in the reverse situation.
    Fifth, cultural differences, as well as religious differences, have led to conflicts among the indigenous people as well as between Indians and mestizos.
    And, sixth, indigenous Mexicans have had little voice in their governance.
    The Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, the EZLN or Zapatistas, as they are popularly known, emerged, as you know, on January 1st, 1994, as a response to many of these issues. They are largely made up of indigenous people and sympathizers, although their most well-known representative, Comandante Marcos, is a mestizo. Their active armed membership is estimated to be anywhere from 600 to 2,000 strong, and the actual numbers are probably closer to the lower figure.
    Their strength does not come from armed members, but really from the sympathy engendered among indigenous people in the region and among mestizo and indigenous populations, particularly rural peasants, in many parts of Mexico. Indeed, one of the most significant consequences of their small, armed uprising 4 years ago is the reverberations among many other groups, most of whom have pursued eclectic social and economic goals through peaceful civic action. The Mexican media and urban Mexicans also have expressed repeated support for many of the Zapatista goals, but not for violent means. However, EZLN support among the Mexican population has declined in recent months, and currently is divided almost evenly among those viewing it positively and negatively.
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    Although the EZLN and the government began negotiations almost immediately following the initial uprising, and the congressional negotiating committee achieved an agreement with the EZLN, the Zedillo Government reneged on implementing its provisions. This stalemate has led to many local tensions, and influential economic and political groups in Chiapas have attempted to impose their own solutions, often through the use of armed paramilitary groups. However, in each individual incident the motivations are typically different; but peasants generally, and the indigenous population specifically, have little recourse through the legal system.
    The major sticking point in the accords is that of granting considerable autonomy to local indigenous leadership. Failure to implement the accords also has led to the establishment of some de facto indigenous governance, and an attempt by Chiapas state authorities to eliminate them through the use of force.
    The military initially responded with excessive force, accompanied by many human rights abuses, including summary executions of Zapatista members. The army has since stationed a large percentage of its troops in the region and has contained the Zapatistas militarily. Although some hard-liners advocate a military sweep of the region, this strategy has the least support politically in Mexico. Most Mexicans favor a negotiated settlement, an increased Federal budget for indigenous populations, and granting autonomy to their communities.
    The military permanently has increased its presence by expanding the number of military zones, specifically in the southern region. Of the 40 zones which exist in Mexico, three of them are now in Chiapas alone.
    The military's involvement in Chiapas is also the strongest link publicly to the United States. The Mexican military, compared to most Latin American militaries, has remained aloof from U.S. military assistance programs. However, in the last 2 years it has not only sought out and received more equipment and training, but for the first time since 1946, U.S. military personnel trained Mexicans on Mexican soil. Although the training and the equipment are part of the armed forces' mission in drug interdiction, critics rightly suggest that it becomes impossible to limit their impact to that specific task.
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    Although it has been argued that the military presence might reduce paramilitary activities, the greatest number of human rights abuses in the country have been attributed to the Mexican Army itself. In the January-February report of the independent Human Rights organization, that was 30 percent. And Indians and peasants are nearly half of all human rights victims in Mexico.
    The problems in Guerrero and Oaxaca, two of Mexico's other poor rural states with sizable indigenous populations, are very similar to those found in Chiapas. The Federal Government has done little to encourage economic development in these states and therefore both have been fertile grounds for social movement, including the Popular Revolutionary Army which appeared in the summer of 1996. The government has largely used the armed forces to identify and confront these small guerrilla groups, and in doing so has committed many human rights violations among alleged sympathizers, in all likelihood increasing local sympathy for these groups' platforms.
    Structurally, the Mexican Government has done little to alleviate extreme poverty in Mexico, although it has poured large amounts of Federal money into Chiapas. And given the series of economic crises since the early 1980's, the standard of living of many working class Mexicans, rural and urban, has declined or remained stagnant. The United Nations estimates that 51 percent live in poverty, 30 percent in moderate and 16 percent in extreme poverty. Fifteen percent of all Mexicans earn less than a dollar a day. Therefore, it is unlikely that the economic and social conditions in these states will change significantly in the short- to medium-term.
    Thank you.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Dr. Camp.
    Our next witness is Mr. Carlos Tello Diaz, and we would be very interested in hearing from him at this point.
    Mr. Diaz.
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    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Thank you. I am going to read part of the statement that I prepared for the Committee.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Very well.
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. In the context just described, general poverty, repression and marginalization, the nucleus of the Zapatista army began to work during the 1980's with the Indian peasants of the Lacandona Jungle. This guerrilla group was the offspring of an organization formed in the late 1960's in the north of Mexico. In fact, the commander in chief of the Zapatista army, at least until 1994, was one of the founders of that original group, Commander German. The leaders of the Zapatista army were also active in other parts of the country apart from Chiapas. Their objective was a military overthrow of the government and the construction of a Communist regime in Mexico.
    The success of the Zapatista army was facilitated by the previous work done by the Maoist groups that were active in the jungle during the 1970's and 1980's, in collaboration with the Catholic church. They had created an important peasant organization, accustomed to taking decisions in assemblies and accustomed, too, to a Marxist-Leninist vocabulary.
    The Zapatista army, as was the case with previous groups, received also the discreet collaboration of the Catholic church—the guerrilla, in fact, is almost exclusively Catholic, not Protestant—until the late 1980's, when their collaboration came to an end. The influence of the Catholic church, particularly important in the jungle, meant in fact that the Zapatista army lost almost half of its original support in 1989 when the split occurred. Since then, the Catholic Church of San Cristobal has kept its distance from armed ''zapatismo'' but has remained in constant touch with civilian Indian ''zapatismo.''
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    The aims of the Zapatista army were clearly stated in their declaration of war, made public in January 1994: the defeat of the Army and the overthrow of the Mexican Government. The type of country they wanted to build was outlined in their Revolutionary Laws. These were revealing of their ideological background. The Agrarian Law, for example, announced the expropriation of all land and property bigger than 50 hectares, to be worked collectively by landless peasants.
    There were no Indian demands at that time but the Zapatista army, in order to legitimate the rebellion, adopted the outward signs of Indian identity. Its leaders, for example, appeared in Indian costumes and used typically Indian expressions in their press releases. In contrast to that leadership, the militias of the Zapatista army, Indians all of them, had different, more concrete objectives. They fought for a better life in Chiapas rather than for a revolutionary change in Mexico, and their cause was seen with general sympathy throughout the country.
    After the cease-fire was declared on January 12th, the Zapatista army and the Salinas Government started negotiations in San Cristobal. These were retaken a year later in the autumn of 1995 by the Zedillo Administration, which had just militarized the jungle and the highlands of Chiapas, in a move that was condemned by the Zapatista army as a breach of the government's pledged word. During these negotiations, the main concern of both parties was the Indian question. The Zapatista army no longer spoke openly of other issues, like the overthrow of the government. Its demands were centered on Indian rights.
    Subcommander Marcos, head of the movement, used to this end his prestige among intellectuals and independent Indian organizations in Mexico. In February 1996 the San Andres Agreements regarding Indian rights and culture were signed, but their conversion to law was made impossible by differences concerning, in particular, the extent of the autonomy that was to be given to the Indian communities in Mexico. It was generally perceived that the government was not willing to put into practice what it had committed itself to by signing the San Andres Agreements.
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    The next months brought to an end the negotiations with the Zapatista army. The government then adopted a policy of neglect in relation to Chiapas throughout most of 1997. It ignored not only the guerrilla, but also some of the most important questions that were raised during the negotiations, among them the issue of Indian autonomy. The government assumed that time alone would defeat the Zapatista army.
    In this context of neglect, the social and political decay of Chiapas went out of control and a new actor emerged on the scene, the paramilitary groups. The paramilitary groups that are active in Chiapas have the support of Indian communities that are against the Zapatista army or against armed civilian groups that do not belong to but have sympathy with the Zapatista army. Many communities or groups of individuals consider themselves threatened by the Zapatistas, and some of them have organized themselves to respond with violence to that threat, often with criminal violence, as was the case in the massacre of Acteal in December of last year.
    From this point of view, the paramilitary groups are, in part, the expression of the divisions that exist between and within communities. But they are also, of course, the expression of a strategy of counterinsurgency adopted by interests that lie outside the communities themselves, through which these groups are armed, trained and protected. These interests are sometimes found in the Government of Chiapas; sometimes in the local structure of the official party, of the PRI; sometimes in the armed and police forces that have so far tolerated their activity.
    It is not possible to assert, as sympathizers of the EZLN believe, that paramilitary violence is promoted by the Zedillo Government itself as a strategy against the Zapatista army, although we know from military documents that the possibility has indeed been discussed within the Army. The government has argued, on the other hand, that armed civilian groups that sympathize with the Zapatista army, like Abuxu in the north of Chiapas, receive the support of some members of the local Catholic church and part of the local left wing opposition party, the PRD. In any case, one thing is certain: Almost 2,000 Indian peasants have been murdered in Chiapas over the last 4 years, and they belonged to different ethnic groups and had different religious beliefs and different political inclinations.
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    The government has so far been unable or unwilling to disarm paramilitary groups, partly because it would mean also disarming armed civilian groups that sympathize with the Zapatista army. It is difficult to know, moreover, if disarming all armed groups outside the zone of conflict—that is, the jungle, a zone which has, ironically, had a relatively low degree of conflict—would include also the units of the Zapatista army active in the highlands, units which are in fact protected by the law that makes the dialog with the guerrilla possible and which, therefore, in principle cannot be disarmed. In any case, disarming needs to be negotiated by the parties involved in the conflict, otherwise widespread violence would be in inevitable in Chiapas.
    Apart from disarming all armed civilian groups outside the zone of conflict and the solution to the problem of refugees and human rights through a policy of reconciliation, something which would do much to ease the tension in Chiapas is the gradual demilitarization of the area, that is, the partial return of soldiers to their barracks. The army is necessary to guarantee sovereignty of the state in that part of Mexico, but it has distorted community life in the jungle and the highlands and, in spite of its massive presence, it has not been able to fulfill the role assigned to it, namely to safeguard law and order in that part of Mexico.
    The prolongation of the conflict and the permanent violence in the region have been inevitably looked upon with concern by other countries and human rights organizations. The Mexican Government, distrustful of this concern, often aggressive toward these organizations, should recognize that the defense of human rights is imperative. An important step in this direction has been taken recently, when the government invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Chiapas. Some people further believe that the United Nations can help mediate between the parties involved in the conflict. So far, however, neither the government nor the Zapatista army have shown interest in that mediation.
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    Thank you.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Tello Diaz appears in the appendix.]
    Mr. GALLEGLY. And our next witness is Mr. Joel Solomon, research director for the Americas at Rights Watch.
    Mr. Solomon.


    Mr. SOLOMON. Thank you, Chairman Gallegly, for holding this important hearing and for inviting Human Rights Watch to testify. My responsibilities at Human Rights Watch include documenting human rights conditions throughout Mexico.
    I will divide my oral testimony into three parts. In the first section I will discuss how human rights violations in Chiapas fit into the overall human rights situation in Mexico. Second, I will focus on major human rights problems in Chiapas. And then I will turn my attention to human rights violations in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
    I have submitted a longer written statement for the record and would like to request to submit for the record several articles recently published by Human Rights Watch on this situation.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Without objection, they will be made a part of the record of the hearing.
    Mr. SOLOMON. Thank you very much.
    Please let me begin with a general observation about human rights violations in Mexico. The Government of President Ernesto Zedillo has recognized the importance of protecting human rights and ending impunity. In many speeches, both President Zedillo and Attorney General Jorge Madrazo have spoken forcefully about these problems. We also know that the government can move against its supporters in and out of government when, for whatever reason, it believes it expedient to do so.
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    The problem is that for the most part authorities still strongly deny that even the best documented human rights violations ever took place. There is, in essence, a problem between the official policy or the official rhetoric on human rights and what happens in the field. Unless the domestic or international outcry is so overwhelming that some corrective action must be taken, authorities tend to ignore human rights complaints. As a result, impunity for human rights violations is the norm throughout the country, despite the official rhetoric on the subject.
    When serious human rights violations take place, such as torture or disappearances, we have also noted that the entire justice system often breaks down in its successive levels. It is not just the police, for example, who might commit an act of torture. Medical examiners and prosecutors let that pass, and even judges fail to ensure that the victims' rights are respected and that human rights violators are brought to justice.
    Finally, let me point out that human rights violations in Mexico are not only a problem in cases that might be deemed political, such as those involving the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the EZLN, or members of the leftist Popular Revolutionary Army, the EPR, which is present in states including Guerrero and Oaxaca. Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights abuses, including torture, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and forced confessions in cases involving common crime and drugs in states throughout Mexico.
    Turning now to Chiapas, let me highlight some of the major problems we see there. These include rural violence, armed civilian groups, the groups that Mr. Tello referred to as the paramilitary groups, the expulsion of foreigners, and serious problems with the administration of justice.
    These problems do not tend to take place within the context of armed confrontations between the Mexican army and combatants belonging to the EZLN. Rather, violence in communities in Chiapas stems from conflict over multiple issues: political and religious differences, counterinsurgency, and disputes over land and other community resources. Often, of course, more than one of these factors is at play when killings, kidnappings or threats take place or when people are expelled from their communities.
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    Mr. Tello mentioned the number of people who have died in the conflict since January 1994 in civilian-on-civilian violence, but there are also some 16,000 internally displaced people, many in Chiapas, as a result of the violence since January 1994.
    In many cases documented by Human Rights Watch, private citizens, not government officials, were responsible for the types of violent acts described above. We have also documented cases in which authorities such as police and soldiers were directly involved.
    We also note that when real or alleged opponents of the government are accused of committing an act of violence, police and prosecutors often move swiftly against them, but do so while violating due process guarantees and other human rights standards. When government supporters face such accusations, however, impunity is the norm.
    It should be clear from the last statement that violence in Chiapas state is not one-sided. It is not simply a matter of government supporters attacking government opponents. Supporters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, also suffer murders, expulsions, and the other types of abuses I have described. However, in case after case, the government demonstrates a deeply troubling discretional and often abusive use of the justice system, police and army.
    We have recently seen just such a problem in the government's actions against pro-Zapatista autonomous municipalities set up since 1994 to be parallel municipal governments in places where EZLN supporters do not recognize the authority of the ruling party. On April 10 of this year, for instance, Zapatista supporters established a municipality called Ricardo Flores Magon. Just 1 day later, authorities broke up the municipality, sending in 350 public security and other police officers backed by 300 soldiers.
    Nine Mexicans and 12 foreigners were detained and the foreigners were arbitrarily deported with no due process. The following month the Mexican Government approved new, restrictive and potentially dangerous visa requirements for foreign human rights monitors wishing to visit Mexico. The Mexicans detained in the Ricardo Flores Magon crackdown were subjected to legal processes shot through with all kinds of irregularities.
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    Let me turn now to one of the most serious problems in Chiapas: armed civilian groups. In several municipalities in Chiapas, pro-government armed groups operate with a tacit or express support of the government. They are groups of civilians united in aboveground, peasant-based organizations that employ violence to retain or win political or economic power. And despite detailed allegations of abuses committed by members of these groups, authorities have failed to act against them.
    One such group received international attention and quite a bit of attention in Mexico in December of last year. On the 22nd of that month, armed government supporters attacked unarmed civilians in the mountainside hamlet of Acteal, killing 45 people. During the attack, public security police were actually present in the community but did nothing to stop it. Government officials, warned of the violence early on, downplayed its significance. It has since been shown that the assailants had benefited from weapons provided by a public security police officer and that they had often benefited from personalized police protection.
    After the massacre, and following widespread condemnation in Mexico and abroad, the Federal Government moved quickly against the material authors of the attack, as well they should have. And recently, state government officials involved in essentially covering up the incident have been indicted. I must point out, however, that the problems in and around Acteal had been highlighted by Mexican human rights groups just months before the massacre, yet no action was taken against the armed supporters of the government until the massacre had claimed 45 lives and brought intense scrutiny over Mexico's human rights problems.
    Let me turn now briefly to the issue of Guerrero and Oaxaca. In these states, Human Rights Watch has seen rural violence cases that in some ways are similar to those in Chiapas. However, there are also serious human rights violations that take place there related to the EPR, the guerrilla movement, that we do not typically see in Chiapas.
    We have documented cases of torture, disappearances and forced confessions carried out by authorities in Guerrero and Oaxaca in the name of fighting the EPR. Detainees are questioned about real or alleged members of the EPR; some of them are prosecuted for crimes they may or may not have committed.
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    In Oaxaca state similar abuses have taken place. For instance, authorities have moved vigorously and with repeated human rights violations against members of the communities of the Loxichas region, after determining that someone from that area participated in an EPR attack in August 1996. Since then, arbitrary arrests, forced confessions, temporary disappearances, and extrajudicial execution have all been documented.
    Human Rights Watch is currently analyzing a series of such cases. The victims have described to us the torture they suffered. The court documents we have reviewed show how detainees who did not speak Spanish and did not have a translator were said to have given Spanish language statements implicating others as members of the EPR.
    Let me leave it there, and I will be very happy to answer any questions.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Solomon appears in the appendix.]
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Solomon. We are now joined by the Ranking Member, the distinguished gentleman from New York, Mr. Ackerman. Did you want to have an opening statement?
    Mr. ACKERMAN. I thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, and with your and the Committee's indulgence, I would like to put it in the record in the interest of saving time.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Without objection.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Ackerman appears in the appendix.]
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Tello, I would like to know a little more about Marcos, the leader of the Zapatista movement. Some have speculated that he has no real long-term program for the region and that he appears to only want to be a career guerrilla and a national thorn in the side of the Mexican Government.
    In your opinion, what does Marcos really stand for? Is that a rhetorical question?
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    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. No, it is a very difficult question, I think. Marcos has been in this business for 20 years. He was recruited by the organization out of which the Zapatista army sprung 20 years ago, and he has, of course, gone through different stages throughout all these years. I think that basically during his clandestine life in the jungle and in other parts of Mexico, what he was trying to do, together with the other leaders of the movement, of the guerrilla, was to, as they said so themselves in their declaration of war, trigger a national insurrection which would overthrow the Mexican Government. And in that context they were wanting to build a regime which was very much based on the Cuban model.
    I think since then, since 1994, things have radically changed in Marcos. I think he renounced this project somewhere in 1995, and has not been able to substitute it with anything else; and therefore has concentrated himself and the prestige of his movement on one central question, which is the Indian question. The project in favor of Indian rights has given him what he lost during 1994 and 1995; that is to say, a well-thought project which could inspire many other Mexicans.
    Now, he, of course, wants to be alive as long as he can and disturb the government, or be a thorn in the back of the government, as you put it. This is one of his aims, although it is not openly on the agenda, and it is also one of the reasons that explains why the negotiations with the Zapatista army are so difficult.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Dr. Camp, do you agree with Mr. Tello?
    Mr. CAMP. Yes, I do. I think that the agenda has changed, and I think that it has created difficulties in the negotiating process. The only thing I would add to that is, on the government side there are also differences of opinion as to what direction the government should pursue in those negotiations.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. If, in fact, Marcos' objective is to be a career guerrilla, is it in his best interest to try to come to a settlement, at least his long-term best interest, Mr. Tello?
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    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. I think he must come to a settlement in the long term. I don't think he is interested in a settlement in the short term. He wants to wait for the elections, the Federal elections that are coming up in 2 years, and see what he can do then.
    I would also emphasize that the Mexican Government's policy toward the Zapatista army has changed a lot. It has been equivocal, and to that extent it has been part of the problem.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Ackerman.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Sounds like you are describing a rebel in search of a cause.
    What is the Mexican Government strategy with dealing with Chiapas? We can start with Mr. Solomon, then Mr. Camp and then Mr. Tello Diaz.
    Mr. SOLOMON. Well, some people have described the strategy in terms of what we focused on, the human rights field, as managing rural conflict as opposed to resolving the problems. And we certainly could see that type of approach in the fact that the government has failed to take any kind of detailed actions to address the armed civilian groups. Their abuses are well documented. In essence, the government is permitting, both on a Federal level and on a state level, that its supporters carry out acts of violence, and that is very troubling from our point of view.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. So you are saying the acts of violence are government policy?
    Mr. SOLOMON. No, I think it is important, and that is a good question, but it is important to distinguish. I am saying there is no policy to adequately deal with the acts of violence in a way that is consistent with human rights principles.
    Oftentimes, the types of violence we see stem from very local community conflict where politics or religion or some kinds of economic issue may be involved. What happens when that conflict, when there is a killing or an expulsion, when it passes then into the government's sphere, with the prosecutors needing to investigate, is that we see a bias.
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    Mr. ACKERMAN. Let me rephrase the question, then. Do you think the government has a strategy for dealing with this problem?
    Mr. SOLOMON. We certainly have not seen a government strategy for adequately dealing with the human rights problem, no.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. That is why you could not answer the question the first way.
    Mr. Camp.
    Mr. CAMP. Well, I think it has been essentially a policy of neglect. Once they realized that the Zapatistas were not going——
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Policy of neglect?
    Mr. CAMP. Yes.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Benign neglect?
    Mr. CAMP. More or less.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Or malicious neglect?
    Mr. CAMP. Malicious neglect may be a more apt description. I think when they decided they were not going to use any sort of violent means to achieve their goals, that basically within a year that issue became sort of a back burner issue to other national domestic political issues. And the only time it comes to the forefront is when we have something like the Acteal massacre which involves an extreme number of human rights abuses. Otherwise, the issue has become less and less an issue in the mind of the Mexican people, and as a result I think Mexican public opinion has basically labeled every actor in the Chiapas conflict in a negative light, including the church, the President, the Secretary of Government.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. You are trying to tell us you do not think the government has a strategy either?
    Mr. CAMP. I think the strategy of the government is just to wait it out and see what happens.
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    Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Tello Diaz?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. No, I do think the government has a strategy. It has not worked out, but it does have one.
    I can distinguish three different strategies. The first one, between 1994 and 1995, was a successful strategy. Its aim was to neutralize the rebellion.
    The second strategy, which I identify with 1996–1997, was one of voluntary neglect: to hope that the Zapatista army would gradually lose its popular support in the region and would die away. And that strategy, of course, not only did not work, but was partially responsible for the violence that exploded outside the zone of conflict, in the highlands and the north of Chiapas.
    From February of this year, I see a third strategy, a tough strategy in which parallel governments have been repressed, in which the leaders of the Zapatista army are referred to by their real names instead of their war names, and in which there is an evident will to disarm civilian groups, at least outside the zone of conflict, in the highlands.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Is this a government strategy to suppress the problem in hopes that it will work; or is this a policy to resolve the problem?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. There are many problems. It is not just one problem. The most evident problem is the problem between the Zapatista army and the government. There are other problems much more difficult to solve: the problem that has to do with religious divisions among communities, the problem of landless peasants, and so on and so forth.
    In relation to the problem of the Zapatista army itself, I think the strategy right now of the Mexican Government is to adopt a strong hand in its dealings with the Zapatista army but not to repress it militarily; to let it wait till the year 2000 comes, as the Zapatista army apparently wants to do.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. So looks like we have a rebel without a cause and a government in search of a policy.
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    I will let someone else take a shot for a couple of minutes, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. The gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Blunt.
    Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. Camp, in your comments, and I think even more maybe in Mr. Solomon's testimony, I heard concerns and read concerns about the United States working with the Mexican military to try to help with the counternarcotics problem. Did I interpret that correctly? And what do you think we should be doing?
    I think all of our training is focused on counternarcotics, though clearly that training is transferable. If you are trained, you are trained. Do you think we should have no interest in the narcotics problem or helping that government fight it? Or what do you think we should do?
    Mr. CAMP. Well, I think it puts us in a very difficult situation because, as many critics point out, regardless of whether the training is done in Mexico or at various facilities in the United States, once those individuals are trained and returned back to Mexico, there is always some willingness on the part of people to attach whatever behavior they engage in in their home country, regardless of what activities they are involved in, to training that they received from the United States.
    We have been through this before in Central America in the 1980's, and much earlier than that, and this sort of comes back to haunt us. You can make very good arguments explaining why this is not the case, but there is always the sort of guilt by association; that is, anybody that receives, say, intelligence training in the United States and then applies that training in Mexico, and then there is a situation involving human rights abuses of people who were interrogated by the Mexican army, is that the result of training they received in the United States or is that the result of their own informal and formal techniques?
    And I think we have to be very careful about the kind of training we give; not only the kind of training we give, but in terms of are we identifying ourselves to repeated behaviors on the part of the Mexican military which we would not condone.
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    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Solomon, do you want to say something about that?
    Mr. SOLOMON. Yes, thank you. Part of the problem here is that, as you say quite correctly, once you are trained, you are trained. Distinguishing the techniques for counterinsurgency and counternarcotics might make sense in the classroom. In the field it makes less sense, particularly when you consider Mexico, where there are states with both a guerrilla presence and drug production problem. So you have troops who may very well be engaged in both issues at the same time.
    One thing that the U.S. Congress could do is more clearly track what that training consists of. Currently there is Pentagon funding for training that really has not been well described. It is not clear what that training consists of.
    At the same time, we could do more in the United States to monitor what U.S.-trained Mexican troops are doing, to ensure that the human rights principles that in theory ought to be part of that training are actually being applied properly, and if there is a human rights violation, that that soldier is properly dealt with.
    Mr. BLUNT. But you really do not have any proof that the people who participate in this training are not actually benefiting in their attitude toward leadership and other things? You do not see a direct correlation between people that have been trained by the United States and people who are into these human rights violations?
    Mr. SOLOMON. Well, I have to answer that I have not seen it, but I would not necessarily see it. That is the kind of thing that perhaps people dealing more directly with the Mexicans——
    Mr. BLUNT. So you are advocating we might monitor better the content of the training. You are not advocating that we send U.S.—you are advocating we cease the training, No. 1; and, No. 2, if we do not, would you advocate that we send people to follow up on the training? And you could do that effectively without sending U.S. troops or U.S. observers to monitor?
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    Mr. SOLOMON. I am sure that through embassy staff and——
    Mr. BLUNT. Would these people just report in what they have been doing?
    Mr. SOLOMON. Report in, if the U.S. embassy staff had a greater human rights component to look into alleged violations or to try to document and bring that information to the Mexican army.
    Mr. BLUNT. I think that would be very difficult.
    Let me ask one more question, and that would be, as these insurgent governments arise in areas of the country, what do you see as the—all three of you—what do you see as the logical response of the duly constituted government to that?
    You can start, and we will go right down the table.
    Mr. SOLOMON. OK. Well, certainly Human Rights Watch does not have a problem with the Mexican Government confronting armed groups in the country. We do not question that at all. We do question the way the government goes about doing it. And just because there is an armed opponent cannot justify torture, forced confessions, disappearances or the other problems that we have documented. So what we would advocate is that the government not violate human rights standards, both Mexican and international, when it goes about confronting those groups.
    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Camp.
    Mr. CAMP. This has been the state government that has gone in and tried to eliminate these alternative governments, if you will, through the use of force. Rather than using police or paramilitary groups or state forces, they should use the legal system to deal with this.
    If they are not going to reach an agreement on granting some kind of autonomy, then the only thing that I think that is a reasonable way of dealing with that problem is to deal with it through the legal system in the state of Chiapas.
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    Mr. BLUNT. And does an insurgent government by definition, though, not challenge the legal system?
    Mr. CAMP. Well, it is not an insurgent government, in that we are not talking about very sophisticated governments. These are just small local governments where they are carrying out some basic functions. They are not performing tax functions, they are not performing security functions, they are not really carrying out all of the activities that we would normally associate with a local government.
    Mr. BLUNT. Are they preventing the Mexican Government from carrying out those activities, though; tax, regulatory activities?
    Mr. CAMP. As far as I know, no. But I would allow Carlos, who may know something different, to comment.
    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Chairman, we will let Mr. Tello Diaz answer the question, and then I know my time is up, but if you would go ahead and deal with that.
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. As far as I know, parallel authorities do exercise authority, power, as legal authorities do in that part of Chiapas. Taxes have to be paid, and the police forces respond to those authorities. That is partly why they are a source of tension and violence in that part of Chiapas.
    I would prefer to see force avoided and search other ways to take the tension out, for example, by remunicipalization. In other words, if you have a district in which most of the communities are PRI-oriented, but some of them are Zapatista or PRD-oriented and have formed autonomous districts, well, you should make two districts and incorporate those rebellious districts into the legal framework, as it is to be hopefully done during the next months.
    Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. The gentlewoman from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen, for being here. I apologize that I came late and did not have the opportunity to listen to your testimony, but I have looked through it in our files.
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    I wanted to ask you a few questions, first of all about Guatemala's involvement in this problem. Some have speculated that the Guatemalan army and the Mexican army are working together in resolving problems.
    What are your thoughts or opinions on any involvement of the Guatemalans in this problem? We know that the Zapatista leader Marcos has referred to them in his communications. What are your thoughts on international involvement, specifically Guatemalan army involvement? To any of you.
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Well, the Guatemalan Government and army have helped the Mexican Government to stop all arms traffic through the frontier between——
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Do you see them as a positive force?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Sorry?
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. They are a positive factor?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Well, I think from this specific point of view they are a positive factor, because if there are more arms than there already are in Chiapas, the problem would grow worse. I think this is the most important cooperation or field of cooperation between the Mexican Government and the Guatemalan Government.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. In stopping of the arms from coming in the country?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Yes.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Any thoughts on that?
    Mr. SOLOMON. No, I am sorry, I really do not have much detail on what the Guatemalan involvement on the ground in Chiapas would be. Sorry.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Let us talk about other involvement from the international community. As we know, the Mexican Government is very protective of their sovereignty; sees this as an internal issue. And I apologize, you might have already of course been talking about it in part of the question and answer. I see you have referred to it in your remarks.
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    There has been talk about the Senate resolution that is calling for perhaps the Mexican Government continuing to dialog with the other forces. What do you see the proper role of the international community in this problem? Do you see it as an internal problem for Mexico to resolve on its own terms with the guerrilla groups? Do you see the U.S. Congress having a proper role in it? Have you read that resolution? Are you in favor of it? Would that be a stabilizing work product or would that cause further harm in this sensitive negotiation?
    Mr. SOLOMON. Specifically from a human rights standpoint, the expression of concern about the violations of international human rights law are completely legitimate on behalf of individuals, governments, and the Congress. And we would hope that well-founded expressions of concern would be received by, in this case, the Mexican Government as an indication of concern, well-meant, and that perhaps there was a need to address an issue.
    It should not be an issue for great scandal. And in that sense, to answer your question specifically, certainly I think the Senate resolution is perfectly legitimate in that sense.
    We have seen the Mexican Government use the sovereignty issue when it comes to human rights as a way of avoiding scrutiny, as a way of sidetracking attention, and it would be a shame to let that happen.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Any other thoughts? And would the Mexican Government see even holding this hearing to talk about the problem as meddling in internal affairs?
    Mr. SOLOMON. I guess the Mexican Government could answer that.
    Mr. CAMP. I would guess so. I mean, I think that the United States—I do not know what the resolution says, so I do not guess I would really want to comment specifically on that. But I do not think it would be particularly advantageous for the U.S. Congress to make a statement about that.
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    I think that there are two issues here: One is that there is sort of already existing pressure from the United States on President Zedillo to negotiate a settlement in Chiapas. And, of course, the EZLN does not have any response at all to whatever the United States says or does. And I do not think that is going to put any pressure on them to bring them to the negotiating table. So I think the pressure already exists there.
    And perhaps the most important pressure, from an international perspective, is really the international media and all of the associated, particularly human rights groups and other affiliated groups which get involved when an incident such as the Acteal incident occurs, and then there is kind of renewed pressure to bring them to the negotiating table.
    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I wanted to ask one more question, Mr. Chairman, about the Indians and whether that faction supports PRI, others the Zapatista. What accounts for that division, and which one do you think holds the majority of the population in Chiapas, which of those factions? And can you characterize them for us?
    Mr. CAMP. Well, I think it would be very difficult to say which political party, organized political party in the state of Chiapas has the greatest appeal, or even using the Zapatistas as an organized group.
    I think, first, only about a third of the population is indigenous. That is the first point. Second, there is so much diversity within that population culturally, religiously and politically, that it would be extremely difficult to assess what their partisan views are. And, third, I think the most important point is that most indigenous people in Chiapas just want a better life and they really do not have strong partisan affiliations.
    Indigenous people in general in Mexico, have never participated in any active way in Mexican politics in terms of organized partisan support for the traditional or even the newer parties.
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    Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Dr. Camp, there has been a lot of talk about autonomous communities being created in a very complex region. Do you see any danger that Chiapas will become a mini Bosnia, particularly when you consider that the autonomous communities are made up of Catholics and Protestants who really do not like each other, or communities of Indians and mestizos, and still others of pro-PRI and pro-EZLN factions, all potentially leading to ethnic and religious and more political conflict? Do you see the possibility of any similarities there?
    Mr. CAMP. Well, it is true that there are a lot of similar ethnic and religious issues, and naturally the tensions are extremely high at this particular point in time. But I do not see that as a long-term description of the situation in Chiapas, primarily because I do not see that level of hatred existing among these groups, even in terms of some of the events that have occurred recently.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Not as deep-seated?
    Mr. CAMP. It is not as deep-seated. And I think that it can be resolved with the parties coming to the bargaining table and working out a resolution. And I think more than anything what Chiapas needs is economic development, in addition to solving this larger political issue at the moment.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Dr. Camp.
    Before we wrap up, I know Mr. Ackerman has a couple extra questions.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Just to get a better understanding of the dimension of the problem and the resistance, how many Zapatistas actually are there, or how many groups might there be or how many factions?
    Mr. Diaz.
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. Well, the main stronghold of the Zapatistas is among the communities of the Lacandona Jungle. There are around 70,000 people living in that part of the jungle. About 60 percent of them are in favor of the Zapatista army. The remaining 40 percent——
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    Mr. ACKERMAN. How many people are in the Zapatista army?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. During the offensive of January 1994 it was calculated that there were, with or without arms, but all obeying the orders of the Zapatista command, around 6,000 Indian peasants. Of them, only about 2,000 were armed with rudimentary rifles, and only 200 or 300 were well armed and well trained. So this is more or less the military force of the Zapatistas.
    But that is not really the source of their strength, of course. The source of their strength lies somewhere else: in their alliances, in their prestige among many intellectuals and politicians and so on.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Thank you. Dr. Camp referred before to the setting up of parallel administrations autonomously, and it was unclear as to whether or not in the autonomous regions there were people doing things such as local tax collection and things like that, or if that has not been done yet.
    I am very curious about how this is done and the extent of it, whether it is working, whether it is a good idea. I know part of it is based on some of the San Andres Accords and the implementation thereof. Should it be implemented now? Is it a wise thing that they are trying to implement some of it earlier? Is it going to work? Can you have two different governments running the same place?
    I am interested in what each of you might think. And if I could rephrase it in the words of the Talmudic scholars of the old book, Mr. Solomon, how would you split this baby?
    Mr. SOLOMON. I think it is important to point out that the issue of autonomy is not unique to Chiapas. The state of Oaxaca, for example, has moved forward in providing constitutional guarantees for a similar type of autonomous organization. So it is not unique to Chiapas. Certainly in Chiapas it is, at this point, the main stumbling point in negotiations.
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    My understanding is that in autonomous municipalities, in some there are birth certificates and marriage licenses and that sort of thing. I have not conducted research specifically to know what else. One thing I would add——
    Mr. ACKERMAN. No taxes, that we know of?
    Mr. SOLOMON. I do not know.
    Mr. CAMP. I think that is being done by the traditional municipality; is that not correct?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. No, as far as I understand, the parallel governments do act more or less in the same way as the legal governments. There are formally maybe about 15, but existing, really, only about five parallel governments.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. How do you fund a parallel government, autonomous government, without a revenue source?
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. They do not receive anything from the state. They finance themselves mainly through international and national solidarity contributions, and through the contributions of the peasants themselves who belong to that parallel government.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. People doing registries of births and deaths and keeping records, that takes some resources. Minimum, but it takes resources.
    Mr. TELLO DIAZ. In that respect in particular, I think that parallel governments have come to an agreement with the legal government, so that the legal government can actually keep a register of births and deaths.
    Mr. ACKERMAN. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Ackerman.
    I want to thank the Members for being here today. I thank the witnesses. While this appears to be an extremely complex issue with no simple answers, I have to say I am an eternal optimist and I am somewhat encouraged, particularly by the comments of Dr. Camp as it relates to the different factions, and am encouraged that perhaps, particularly with some forms of economic development in there, economic growth, it might help go a long ways toward mitigating the existing problems and bringing the factions together.
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    In any event, it is hearings like this that help us have a much better understanding. Obviously we are not going to leave here today with any resolutions as to what the ultimate answers are going to be, but we do have, I think, a much better understanding of the specifics of the issues, and hopefully with hearings like this, perhaps collectively we may be able to make a contribution and help the situation.
    I thank you all very much for being here. And with that, the Subcommittee stands adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 2:40 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]


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