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DATE=3/17/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-246784 TITLE=ZEDILLO/ZAPATISTAS (L) BYLINE=GREG FLAKUS DATELINE=MEXICO CITY CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: HUNDREDS OF MASKED GUERRILLAS FROM THE ZAPATISTA REBEL MOVEMENT IN MEXICO'S SOUTHERN STATE OF CHIAPAS HAVE TAKEN UP POSITIONS IN EVERY PART OF MEXICO, NOT TO FIGHT BUT TO CARRY OUT A REFERENDUM ON INDIGENOUS RIGHTS. AS VOA'S GREG FLAKUS REPORTS FROM MEXICO CITY, IN ADVANCE OF THE REFERENDUM, WHICH IS TO BE HELD SUNDAY, MEXICAN PRESIDENT ERNESTO ZEDILLO WENT TO CHIAPAS TO TOUT HIS GOVERNMENT'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE IMPOVERISHED STATE. TEXT: AS THE ZAPATISTAS WERE PREPARING FOR THEIR REFERENDUM, PRESIDENT ZEDILLO WENT TO AN AREA WHERE THE REBEL GROUP CLAIMS INFLUENCE TO HAIL WHAT HIS GOVERNMENT HAS DONE FOR THE PEOPLE THERE. SPEAKING IN THE COMMUNITY OF LAS MARGARITAS, IN THE SOUTH-CENTRAL MOUNTAINS OF CHIAPAS, PRESIDENT ZEDILLO CHIDED THE ZAPATISTAS FOR SPURNING GOVERNMENT OFFERS TO TALK. /// ZEDILLO ACT (SPANISH) /// PRESIDENT ZEDILLO SAID-- "THE PEOPLE OF CHIAPAS, LIKE ALL MEXICANS, KNOW VERY WELL WHO HAS REJECTED DIALOGUE AND SOLUTIONS. THEY KNOW PERFECTLY THAT THIS INTRANSIGENCE IS CONDITIONED BY POLITICAL CALCULATIONS AND INTERESTS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CHIAPAS, NOR WITH DEMOCRACY, NOR THE DIGNITY OF THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES." ON HIS 22ND TRIP TO CHIAPAS, PRESIDENT ZEDILLO INAUGURATED A COMMUNITY HOSPITAL IN LAS MARGARITAS AND PRESENTED MORE THAN 400 HOMES TO VICTIMS OF LAST YEAR'S FLOODING IN THE COASTAL TOWN OF TAPACHULA. THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT ALSO HIGHLIGHTED SOME OF THE OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF HIS ADMINISTRATION IN CHIAPAS OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, INCLUDING ONE THOUSAND MEDICAL CLINICS, FOUR THOUSAND 500 SCHOOLS AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF LAND TO 54 THOUSAND FAMILIES. THE ZAPATISTAS, WHO STAGED A BRIEF REBELLION IN JANUARY OF 1994, CLAIM DE FACTO CONTROL OVER A LARGE MOUNTAINOUS AREA IN THE SOUTH CENTRAL PART OF THE STATE. THEY BLAME THE ZEDILLO GOVERNMENT FOR THE LACK OF PROGRESS IN PEACE TALKS, SAYING THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO FULFILL PROMISES MADE IN PRELIMINARY TALKS IN 1996. THE REBEL GROUP, BACKED BY LEFTIST POLITICAL GROUPS THROUGHOUT MEXICO, PLANS TO HOLD A REFERENDUM SUNDAY ON A PROPOSED LAW THAT WOULD GUARANTEE THE RIGHTS OF 56 INDIGENOUS GROUPS IN MEXICO. // REST OPT// GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVE CALLED THE REFERENDUM IRRELEVANT AND ABSURD. GOVERNMENT PEACE NEGOTIATOR EMILIO RABASA SAYS IT IS UP TO THE MEXICAN CONGRESS TO IMPLEMENT THE CHANGES IN THE CONSTITUTION NECESSARY TO ADVANCE THE PEACE PROCESS. AN ATTEMPT TO REVIVE TALKS IN NOVEMBER OF LAST YEAR BROKE DOWN WHEN ZAPATISTA REPRESENTATIVES REFUSED TO DISCUSS A PLAN SET FORTH BY THE GOVERNMENT. (SIGNED) NEB/PT 17-Mar-99 5:58 PM EST (2258 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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