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Narco News 2001

March 20, 2001

Oh, Mexico!

Fox Calls for Drug Legalization


Zapatistas Call Congress's Bluff

and updated Tuesday afternoon

New Statement by Fox to EZLN

Suddenly, He Agrees to Zapatista Demands

By Al Giordano

"March will see the silence made into splinters"

- from The Sixth Zapatista Key

These are the days of immediate history.

In the same hour last night, it became news that Mexico's two major internationally-known leaders threw out the pre-written scripts and made daring gambits on the world stage.

The two men - Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos and Mexican President Vicente Fox - made very different statements about seemingly different issues.

This correspondent, however, sees a synergy between the two events, that have now brought this nation of 96 million people - indeed, all América - to a bold and new road of possibilities.

The synergy between the call for indigenous rights and drug policy has existed for 509 years, ever since the Spanish conquest, when the sacramental use of hallucinogenic plants by advanced societies in Mexico began to face the first drug prohibition on the continent. That the two issues bounce and reverberate off each other today presages earthshaking events that lie ahead, in the very near future.

In the English-speaking world, the statement by Mexican President Vicente Fox embracing a proposal for global drug legalization will undoubtedly grab the bigger headlines. Indeed, that might well have been the intent of the Mexican head of state as his Congress, and especially his political party, have made a mess of the aspirations of the Mexican people to end seven years of conflict in the state of Chiapas and recognize indigenous rights.

We note, immediately, that Fox's drug legalization story was leaked first to the AP reporter assigned to cover the Mexican Congress. It was a textbook public relations case of "changing the subject."

This, at the very hour that the Congress' disingenuous placing of obstacles to dialogue with the indigenous Zapatista Army of National Liberation had led the rebel army to announce it is pulling up stakes in Mexico City and will return to the jungle on Friday. The Zapatistas and the Indigenous National Congress both blamed the "cavemen politicians" of the Congress and their "closed mindedness" for the collapse of dialogue efforts. "Nothing will be able to stop the popular mobilization," warned the Zapatistas in a communiqué yesterday afternoon. "We will return with everyone who we are."

Five major indigenous groups in Oaxaca vowed to block the Panamerican Highway and other key transport routes until Congress approves the San Andrés Accords for indigenous autonomy - a key condition for renewal of peace talks in the seven-year Zapatista rebellion. Thirteen national peasant farmer organizations, also upset over a Fox veto of a rural development plan, announced protests throughout the country. Among students at the national universities, and independent labor leaders, words like "insurrection" and "general strike" were whispered with serious intent. Tomorrow, the Zapatistas go to the National Autonomous University - Mexico's largest. On Thursday, the indigenous movement goes to the very gates of the Federal Congress, before leaving the capital on Friday.

Members of the Concord and Peace Commission (Cocopa) and other Congressional leaders begged the Zapatistas to stay. Fox called upon Congress and the Zapatistas to meet before the rebels leave town. Congressional leaders of Fox's National Action Party (PAN) who had blocked chances of a dialogue suddenly told reporters they will make a new proposal, perhaps today, to the Zapatistas to address the entire Congress. In one fell swoop, the Zapatistas called the bluff of the reactionaries.

Fox, faced with global embarrassment and the massive disillusionment by the Mexican People, whose hopes for peace in their country had risen in recent weeks during the historic Zapatista Caravan, finally found a way to change the subject, albeit for the very short term.

The Mexican President shocked the US Embassy when he erased tens of millions of dollars that this espionage center posing as a diplomatic building has spent in recent years trying to keep the drug legalization debate from surfacing in a country where there is fertile ground awaiting it.

Fox made his move as if to say, "see, we really are experiencing a democratic opening in my country." And what more effective way than to challenge the lynchpin of US intervention in Mexico and Latin America - the prohibition on drugs? Whether the move was cynical, or sincere, or a combination of both, it has radical consequences. It is one of the silences that has been shattered, in fulfillment with the Seven Keys to Mexico City prophesied by the Zapatistas.

The shockwaves of yesterday afternoon will reverberate for days and weeks to come.

As for the Zapatista and Indigenous National Congress dialogue with the Federal Congress, the wheel is in spin. It remains to be seen whether cool minds will prevail over the right-wing, narco-banker funded, hardliners in the Federal Congress and if the Zapatista march out of Mexico City can be delayed by the opening of the doors of the legislative halls without tricks or games placed in the way.

Meanwhile, in Washington, and in capitals throughout the hemisphere, Fox's statements on drug legalization will be analyzed once the shock wears off and the leaders realize that the landscape of all América now stands on unpredictable terrain.

We start, today, with our analysis of the Fox statement on legalization of drugs. We follow with the Zapatistas own words - for they are their own best authentic journalists - on why they will not tolerate the closed-mindedness of the federal Congress.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

Chapter One

Fox on Drug Legalization

Washington's Favored President Sends Message

MEXICO CITY: President Vicente Fox, 106 days into his six-year term, stunned the hemisphere this week when he expressed his agreement with the legalization of drugs. "Humanity some day will see that it is best," he told newspaper reporters in Mexico City.

The statement had all the markings of a calculated message, made to appear spontaneous: a common practice by Mexico's media-savvy president.

During his campaign for the presidency, which he won on July 2, 2000, Fox rejected entirely the concept of legalization, instead calling for the increased penalization of personal drug use and a policy of "zero tolerance."

But by November of 2000, the wind began to shift.

Days before he took office on December 1st, Fox announced that journalist-professor Jorge Castañeda would be his government's secretary of state. Castañeda, long a vocal advocate of ending drug prohibition, did not back away from his controversial position. Instead, he called for an "international crusade" to end the violence and corruption associated with drug trafficking by pulling the plug on prohibition.

Attending Fox's inauguration, Uruguay President Jorge Batlle told international correspondents in Mexico City that it was time to legalize drugs: statements ignored by the U.S. press corps until later that month after the story hit the Internet in English. Batlle's trial balloon still rides high. América's first head-of-state against the drug war took some early and snide hits from New York Times correspondent Clifford Krauss, but Batlle continued to speak out. Last week, Batlle appeared on a Washington Post cyber-chat session with journalist Marcela Sanchez, reiterated his anti-prohibitionist position, and vowed to take his proposal to the other presidents in the hemisphere at the "Summit of the Americas" in Quebec City next month.

As the Uruguay president took the heat, the Fox government tapped Mexico City Police Commissioner Alejandro Gertz Manero as the nation's public safety czar. Gertz Manero, last May, had publicly called for "a Holland-style drug policy" in Mexico to take the illicit profits out of drug trafficking.

Last Thursday, one of Gertz Manero's top aides, Federal Police Chief Miguel Angel de la Torre, granted an exclusive interview to Notimex, the government-funded news agency. De la Torre called for the legalization of drugs. For a translation of that story in English see:

Two days later, on the very Saturday when the blockbuster motion picture "Traffic" by director Stephen Soderberg, critical of the US war on drugs, set a cinematic record in Mexico by opening in 250 theaters, Fox convened newspaper reporters from two mid-sized national dailies to his office. One of the reporters asked him about Chief De la Torre's statement that legalization would end the violence and corrupton of narco-trafficking:

"A high federal police official has called for an opening of the debate over drug legalization in Mexico," a reporter asked Fox. "What is the president's opinion?"

"My opinion is that in Mexico it is not a crime to have a small dose of drugs in one's pocket," Fox was reported as saying by the capital daily Unomasuno. "These people are not apprehended or imprisoned, but they do commit a crime. Nevertheless, this has not lowered consumption. To the contrary, it has grown. The consumption of drugs is a distinct issue. That has to be the job of the Secretary of Health… of the parents of families… of the entire society. That's how to diminish the consumption of drugs, this harmful evil, among our youth."

A reporter followed up, mentioning Chief De la Torre's view that the crime and violence associated with drugs stem from their being made illegal.

"That's right! That's true! That's true!" responded Fox. "But the day that the alternative of freeing the consumption of drugs from punishment comes, it will have to be done in the entire world because we are not going to win anything if Mexico does it, but the production and traffick of the drugs to import them to the United States continues. Thus, humanity will some day view it (legalization) as the best in this sense."

Unomasuno, a newspaper founded in the 1980s by crusading journalist Manuel Becerra-Acosta, who was exiled at gunpoint by the government in that decade and passed away in Spain last year, has, ever since, been one of the small-circulation dailies dependent on government advertising for its survival, and has a generally pro-government line of reporting. On Sunday, Becerra-Acosta might have smiled from the great beyond, as Unomasuno editorialized on Fox's statements regarding drug legalization:

"In Mexico, the issue has not been discussed," the newspaper opined, "possibly owed to the enormous pressure that the government of the United States imposes and that has politicized the problem to such a degree that it blocks the possibility of exploring alternate routes without paying a high political and economic cost."

"The determination to continue forward with the current strategy does not impede the president from attending to the arguments of those who propose legalization and who affirm that the criminality, the violence and other associated evils result from the very fact of it's illegal nature," the paper editorialized. "It should not surprise anyone that a government caught in a failed strategy listens to voices that suggest possible different alternatives, even if, at the moment, they appear almost utopian. But in a country where the chances for democracy improve every day, the nation must be open to all kinds of debate, with an interchange of ideas from all viewpoints, from where better solutions can emerge."

Fox's unprecedented statement of agreement with the global legalization of drugs hit the English-speaking world on Monday evening, March 19th, in an associated press story reported by John Rice. Another powerful message has been sent to Washington by another Latin American head of state, this time from the President of the sleeping giant that is Mexico. That it comes from Fox - universally praised from the White House to Wall Street for his conservative, free-market ideology and for defeating 71 years of one-party rule in Mexico - poses an interesting dilemma for the drug warriors of the Potomac. Will Fox's statement now pave the way for other Latin American leaders to disagree with the US-imposed policy of drug prohibition without fear of reprisal from the superpower to the North?

Chapter Two

We'll Be Back

Communiqué from the EZLN

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Communiqué from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

March 19, 2001.

To the People of Mexico:
To the Peoples and Governments of the World:

Brothers and Sisters:

First: Ever since the EZLN made public its decision to march to Mexico
City, it has been clear about the march's objectives:

1. To engage in dialogue with national civil society in order to gain
its support in the struggle for the constitutional recognition of
indigenous rights and culture in accordance with the Cocopa legislative

2. To engage in dialogue with the Congress of the Union in order to
argue the goodness of the Cocopa proposal and the importance and urgency of
recognizing indigenous rights in the Constitution.

Second: The results are obvious:

1. The Indian peoples of all of Mexico have joined with the EZLN and
with the National Indigenous Congress in the dignified struggle for the
recognition of their rights, and they have openly expressed their support
for the Cocopa legislative proposal.

2. Civil society has turned this demand into a national outcry. Without
regard to color, race, sex, economic position, ideology, religious belief,
size or age. Mexican civil society has overwhelmingly demonstrated for an
end to racism and discrimination now, for the recognition of Indian rights
in the Constitution, and for the fulfillment of the 3 signals necessary for
the resumption of dialogue between the government and the EZLN.

3. Public opinion and international civil society have joined in this
demand of all Mexicans. They have demonstrated on the five continents for
respect for difference and for inclusion for those who are now excluded.

4. Vicente Fox's government has paid more attention to the media impact
of the march than to the obvious popular, national and multi-class support
which the march for indigenous dignity has awoken during its journey
through 12 states of the federation and during its stay in Mexico City.

Instead of fulfilling the 3 signals, and thus taking advantage of a
delegation of the CCRI-CG's stay in the Federal District, Señor Fox has
been handing out statements left and right, without actions to back them
up, and he has played with the anguish and suffering of hundreds of
indigenous families who remain, barely surviving, far from their homes,
because their homes are being occupied by the Fox Federal Army.

5. The Congress of the Union has been held prisoner by those who prefer
to close their eyes to the national and international mobilization. The
most reactionary legislators have openly defied the consensus and support
which the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress have achieved for the
constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.

For seven days, since March 13, the EZLN has waited patiently for the
Congress to accept its willingness to engage in dignified and respectful
dialogue. In response to this willingness, those who are holding the
Congress hostage responded first with an unworthy and disrespectful
proposal, whose only purpose was to salvage the pride and arrogance of
legislators who are refusing to engage in dialogue and to recognize
indigenous rights. Notably, legislators from the National Action [PAN],
headed by Senator Diego Fernández de Cevallos.

Following our demand, those who are manipulating the Congress of the Union
preferred to return to the fatuous game of holding up discussion with Fox
in order to engage in the settling of internal accounts among the wings
which are fighting and, in addition, the leadership of the National Action
Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Thus the
popular demand for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture was set

The EZLN regrets that internal wheeling and dealing, power fights, the
conservative groups which confuse the tribunal with an exclusive members
club, have won out in the Congress of the Union. As well as those who want
to use us in order to settle their accounts, positive or negative, with the
Fox team.

They are trying to do politics in the Executive and in the Federal
Legislature as if nothing has changed in this country. As if the Indian
peoples can be treated exactly as they have been being treated throughout
the almost 200 years that Mexico has been a nation.

The Indian peoples will no longer go around, nor shall we go around,
knocking on doors in order to beg them to listen to us and to attend to us.
The demand for our dignity is not only ours, it is also that of all honest
Mexicans and all the good people in the world.

Only reactionary politicians assume that they can act with the same racist,
arrogant and authoritarian positions of the times of colonialism and
Porfirio. These positions are no longer tenable in the Mexico of today.

Because Mexico can now be defined as before and after the March of
Indigenous Dignity, a march which included all the Indian peoples and
hundreds of thousands of Mexicans. During this march, the people left the
role of spectator and participated, directly or indirectly, in it. The
zapatistas showed ourselves to be open to dialogue. We disarmed ourselves
for this mobilization. We exposed ourselves openly to any attack, visiting
dozens of public plazas throughout the more than 3000 kilometers, and we
were able to meet with the people. We did not impose anything on anyone.

We persuaded through the justness of our demand, for the recognition of the
rights of the Indian peoples, and, in addition, along with the people, we
rediscovered the dignity and hope that exists in all honest Mexicans.

Mexican society, the Indian peoples and the zapatistas arrived with our
heads held high. Not to bring down the government, not to challenge the
system, not to impose a way of thinking. But to engage in dialogue and to
convince that the indigenous deserve a dignified place at the side of all
Mexicans. In order to achieve this we made this march, and we did so with
dignity. We did not march in order to beg or in order to negotiate a
dignified space. We marched for respect.

Now, more than ever, the separation between the government and the people
is not only marked, it is also in conflict. The government is openly
defying society and looking on it with contempt.

Given the choice between politicians and the people, the EZLN does not
hesitate: it is with the people. It is from them that we have received
the attentive ear and the respectful word. We shall never lower our heads
in front of the politicians, nor will we accept humiliations and
deceptions. We will not wait in line in order to be given "received"
stamps on our historic demands.

Third: In response to the above:

1. The EZLN has decided to end its stay in Mexico City and to begin the
return to the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. The stubbornness of the
political class is clear. The people, the Indian peoples, national and
international civil society are convinced of the justness of our demands,
and they have unconditionally supported us. The EZLN will continue to seek
and to build inclusive spaces for the participation of everyone who desires
a truly new Mexico. The constitutional recognition of indigenous rights
must take place, and we will seek new means of struggle in order to achieve

2. This Thursday, March 22, 2001, the zapatista delegation will hold a
farewell event in front of the Congress of the Union, in order to thank the
Mexican people, the international community and Mexico City for their help
and hospitality during the march and during the stay in Mexico City.

3. The EZLN is calling on all social, political, non-governmental
organizations, groups and individuals, men, children, women and old ones,
of Mexico City to accompany the delegation during the event on March 22 and
to listen to what the Congress of the Union did not want to hear.

4. The EZLN is calling on social and political organizations and
individuals in the Mexican province to participate with us on March 22 in
the event in front of the Congress of the Union and to mobilize in their
states and municipalities.

5. The EZLN is calling on international civil society and solidarity
committees throughout the world to make their voices heard on that day,
March 22, along with ours, and to reject the politics of exclusion being
practiced by the Mexican executive and legislative branches.

6. On Friday, March 23, 2001, the zapatista delegation will leave Mexico
City for the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, following a route which
will be announced in due course.

7. We shall report to our communities concerning this twofold result of
the march: the stubbornness of those who are the government, and the great
support of the people in Mexico and in the world. The mobilization of
regular everyday people has only just begun, and nothing is going to stop
it. With the zapatista communities, who are those who sustain and govern
us, we shall seek the means to continue marching along with the people who,
like us, are fighting for an inclusive, tolerant, just, democratic and free

Brothers and Sisters:

We are going. With all of those whom we are, we shall return.


From the National School of Anthropology and History.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, March of 2001.

Statement by Vicente Fox

Tuesday Afternoon, March 20

Publisher's Note: After more than 100 days of stalling on Zapatista demands for release of all EZLN political prisoners and the closure of seven military bases in Chiapas, Mexican President Vicente Fox today - in response to the Zapatistas announcement of their imminent return to Chiapas - held a press conference in which he said he has ordered:

- Release of remaining Zapatista political prisoners, including federal prisoners. (Narco News reiterates our demand for the release of the framed Drug War Prisoners: Rafael López Santíz Conseta Norberto López Rincón David Hernández Hernández Gustavo Estrada Gómez Mario Diaz Gómez and, José Hernández Dias).

- The closure of the remaining three military bases on the Zapatista list of seven.

- Increased efforts by his administration to convince the Congress to meet, as a full body, with the Zapatistas.

Narco News repeats it's headline of earlier today: The Zapatistas have truly called the government's bluff.

Stay tuned for further updates - AG

Statement by Fox

Good afternoon. All of you have been witnesses, every citizen, of our absolute will to reach peace in Chiapas.

We have extended our hand and given a welcome to the EZLN march, and at all moments we have complied with our word so that it will be respected.

We speak the truth to the citizens, to the entire country, and above all, we speak with actions, very concrete actions. That's why:

First: As president of all the Mexican people, and as an integral part of the legislative process, I respectfully call upon the Congress of the Union to find the space and form to receive and listen to the EZLN, so that it can process and decide the matter of the revindication of the rights and cultures of the indigenous peoples.

Second: It is our desire that the dialoque prospers to support and push, together with the legislators, the EZLN, and the members of the indigenous peoples of the country the approval of the constitutional reform that guarantees that never again will the indigenous people be forgotten.

Third: I am ordering that federal prisoners be released once we can know from the EZLN the corresponding names.

Fourth: I am filing a decree to transform the military bases of Guadelupe Tepeyac, of Río Euseba and of La Garrucha into development centers for the indigenous communities.

Fifth: I am also sending, at this moment, a letter to Subcomandante Marcos requesting a meeting before his return to Chiapas.

I propose that we have a dialogue about the approval of the initiative that I have sent to the Congress of the Union and to push, in the entire country, a human development program for the 10 million indigenous brothers and sisters.

Where there have been weapons, hearts and wills will open to promote the dignity of our indigenous sisters and indigenous brothers. We all want peace, we all want peace to be a reality, but a true peace is born from justice, it is born from reconciliation and unity. We can come to peace in Chiapas. We have time to reach the peace in Chiapas.

The President of Mexico will do everything on his part, everything that is necessary, so that this peace is a reality.

Thank you very much.

Vicente Fox
President, the United States of Mexico

Shattering the Silence into Splinters