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DATE=7/29/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-236248 TITLE=CONGRESS / MEXICO (L-ONLY) BYLINE=BILL RODGERS DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: WITNESSES TESTIFYING BEFORE A CONGRESSIONAL PANEL WEDNESDAY HAVE SHARPLY CRITICIZED HOW THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT IS DEALING WITH THE FOUR-YEAR OLD INDIAN INSURGENCY IN THE SOUTHERN STATE OF CHIAPAS. AS V-O-A'S BILL RODGERS REPORTS, THE CONGRESSIONAL HEARING COMES AMIDST INCREASING SENSITIVITY BY MEXICO OVER FOREIGN CRITICISM ABOUT THE CHIAPAS SITUATION. TEXT: THE HOUSE (OF REPRESENTATIVES) SUBCOMMITTEE ON WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS WEDNESDAY HEARD TESTIMONY SHARPLY CRITICAL OF MEXICO FROM A HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND ACADEMIC SPECIALISTS. TO VARYING DEGREES, THEY ALL BLAMED THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT FOR NOT DOING ENOUGH TO STOP THE ONGOING VIOLENCE IN THE SOUTHERN STATE OF CHIAPAS -- SCENE OF AN INDIAN REBEL UPRISING IN 1994 THAT HAS YET TO BE RESOLVED. SOME TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED IN CHIAPAS OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS IN VIOLENCE RELATED TO THE CONFLICT, EVEN THOUGH AN UNEASY CEASEFIRE HAS BEEN PLACE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE ZAPATISTA REBELS SINCE THE EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLT. ARMED PARAMILITARY GROUPS -- ALLEGEDLY WITH LINKS TO THE ARMY -- HAVE MURDERED, TORTURED AND COMMITTED OTHER ATROCITIES AGAINST ZAPATISTA SUPPORTERS. THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT HAS TRIED TO STOP THESE ABUSES, BUT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS DISPUTE THIS. JOEL SOLOMON OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH TOLD THE SUBCOMMITTEE WEDNESDAY THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT HAS IGNORED RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY PARAMILITARY GROUPS. ///SOLOMON ACT/// HUMAN RIGHTS DOESN'T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT CONFRONTING ARMED GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY WE DON'T QUESTION THAT ALL. WE DO QUESTION THE WAY THE GOVERNMENT GOES ABOUT DOING IT. JUST BECAUSE THERE IS AN ARMED OPPONENT, CANNOT JUSTIFY TORTURE, FORCED CONFESSIONS, DISAPPEAREANCES, OR THE OTHER PROBLEMS THAT WE'VE DOCUMENTED. /// END ACT /// THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE WESTERN HEMISPHERE SUBCOMMITTEE, ELTON GALLEGLY, EXPRESSED CONCERN OVER THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN CHIAPAS. BUT MR. GALLEGLY, A REPUBLICAN FROM CALIFORNIA, ALSO WAS CAREFUL NOT TO OFFEND MEXICO. IN A STATEMENT WEDNESDAY, CONGRESSMAN GALLEGLY DESCRIBED THE PURPOSE OF THE HEARINGS AS EDUCATIONAL. ///GALLEGLY ACT/// OUR LOOK TODAY AT THE SITUATION IN CHIAPAS IS SOLELY INTENDED TO BE EDUCATIONAL IN NATURE AND INTENDED TO GIVE MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE SOME BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONFLICT SO THAT EACH MEMBER CAN FULLY APPRECIATE THE COMPLEXITY OF THE ISSUE. ///END ACT/// IN RECENT MONTHS, MEXICO HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY SENSITIVE TO FOREIGN COMMENTARY ABOUT THE SITUATION IN CHIAPAS. THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT REACTED SHARPLY WHEN U-S SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT SPOKE LAST MONTH ABOUT PRESSING MEXICO TO RESOLVE THE CHIAPAS SITUATION. MEXICAN OFFICIALS ALSO REBUFFED A REPORTED FEELER BY UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN TO HELP MEDIATE AN END TO THE CONFLICT. (SIGNED) NEB/WFR/PT 29-Jul-98 6:19 PM EDT (2219 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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