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Chronology for Mayans in Mexico

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Mayans in Mexico, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38bc13.html [accessed 10 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
1982 - 1988 The Guardias Blancas tortured and killed hundreds of Mayan Indians in Chiapas in response to Indian organization against land owners.
Jul 2, 1992 The U.S. announced that it would no longer kidnap Mexican citizens to stand trial in U.S. courts for crimes.
Jul 14, 1992 The PRI (the ruling party of Mexico) conceded to an election loss in the state of Chihuahua, its largest and wealthiest state. The winner of the election was Francisco Barrion of the center-right National Action Party (PAN). Also in this election, the state of Michoacan opposition party (PRD) claimed election fraud by the PRI. The population of both states is approximately 5% indigenous, which largely support opposition parties to the PRI.
Aug 9, 1992 Mexico City hosted peace talks between the Guatemalan rebels and the government. Mexico stressed the importance of human rights in Guatemala toward its indigenous population.
Aug 30, 1992 President Salinas traveled to Oaxaca to implement grass-roots development program in Oaxaca. The program was called Solidarity and was allotted $2.3 billion in 1992. It was founded in 1989 with the purpose of funding infrastructure and industry programs in primarily indigenous states of Southeastern Mexico.
Sep 16, 1992 In the state of Michoacan, thousands of protestors refused to allow the entrance of the new governor, Eduardo Villasenor of the PRI, to the state capital building. These protestors, supporters of the PRD opposition party, claimed election fraud in the August election.
Sep 28, 1992 Although 90% of Mexico's population claims to be Roman Catholic, Mexico has broken ties with the Catholic Church for 125 years. The Church owned ? of all property in Mexico in the 1800s. After the Mexican Revolution, Benito Juarez expropriated all land from the Church. Now, the country of Mexico is reestablishing ties with the Catholic Church.
Oct 12, 1992 Ten thousand Mayan Indians marched in San Cristobal to protest the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous peoples on the official anniversary of Columbus's voyage to Latin America.
Jan 14, 1993 Jorge Carpizo MacGregor was appointed Attorney General. He was previously Mexico's human rights ombudsman. NGOs and the UN supported this appointment.
Jan 1, 1994 Zapatista rebel group (composed largely of Mayan Indians - appr. 2,000) took over the mayor's office in San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas. Fifty-seven people were killed and 30 people were wounded in gunfire exchange with the guerilla groups. The group demanded land, financing of agricultural programs, education, and the release of "political prisoners". This date is the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada took effect.
Jan 1994 Aerial bombings of civilians in Chiapas prior to the cease-fire on January 19, 1994.
Jan 6, 1994 The Mexican army dispatched troops and armor to the state of Chiapas in order to deter guerilla organization. Tanks, artillery, and mortar were used in the military occupation of Chiapas.
Jan 21, 1994 President Carlos Salinas appointed a commission to study and promote coordinated action to improve the lives of Indians in Mexico. The commission will encompass officials from 11 Cabinet ministries.
Jan 24, 1994 Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia was appointed mediator for the Chiapas rebellion by the Zapatistas. In addition, the Mexican commissioner for the negotiations was Manuel Camacho Solis.
Feb 7, 1994 Indian peasants blocked the Pan-American highway leading into Teopisca, a town about 30 miles south of San Cristobal de las Casas, protesting corruption. They were not affiliated with the Zapatistas, yet said that Chiapas "opened their eyes."
Feb 9, 1994 The major political parties of Mexico passed a clean elections pact, which Camacho, the Mexican negotiator of Chiapas, asserted was "vital to a solution in Chiapas." The Chiapas Zapatistas stated that they would only return arms if negotiation accords were agreed to and complied with.
Feb 11, 1994 A Mixtec Indian group, called Southern Puebla Zapatista Movement, formed and claims to represent people in 60 Mixtec Indian communities, drawing support from over 3000 people. The Michoacan sugar cane workers, who have been protesting the closure of a plant, sent 5 members to meet with the Zapatistas in Chiapas.
Feb 11, 1994 The Guerrero Indian organization also announced that it supported the Zapatista demands of Chiapas, yet stated that they were not Chiapas.
Feb 11, 1994 The Nahuatl peoples have stated that they are sympathetic to the Zapatista demands, but not to the use of arms.
Mar 6, 1994 The Mexican government signed an accord which allowed the Zapatistas to keep their weapons until the negotiations were settled. Foreign governments, including the U.S., have urged President Salinas to pass electoral reform laws, including international observers for the August elections and equal media coverage for all political parties.
Mar 7, 1994 The Mexican government signed an accord promising public works programs, road construction, housing, health clinics, and schools by the end of 1994. The Zapatistas still called for further electoral reforms above those approved by political parties already. The reforms approved included an independent audit of voter polls and the creation of a special prosecutor to investigate electoral fraud.
Mar 13, 1994 Presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was murdered.
Mar 23, 1994 Mexico's ruling party appointed Ernesto Zedillo as the new PRI presidential candidate after the murder of Luis Donaldo Colosio.
Mar 26, 1994 The Zapatistas suspended negotiations with the Mexican government. They declared that the Mexican government of Salinas was involved in the killing of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio.
Apr 10, 1994 Ranchers in the state of Chiapas threatened to mobilize and arm themselves if the government did not protect small property owners. In Mexico City, 20,000 to 30,000 indigenous people marched in the central square in honor of Revolutionary leader, Emiliano Zapata. In San Luis Potosi, indigenous peoples occupied almost 3000 hectares of land. In Guerrero State, 1500 indigenous farmers occupied a town hall. Also, in Oaxaca, 2000 indigenous people protested in the streets for infrastructure improvement. All of these indigenous people claimed to support for the Zapatistas in Chiapas state.
Aug 8, 1994 The Zapatistas played host to over 6,000 participants in a conference, entitled "National Democracy Convention." Students, indigenous people, intellectuals, and workers participated in this conference. Prior to this conference, the Commerce Secretariat announced a $1.5 billion program to create infrastructure and industrial development projects in Chiapas. The money would specifically be allotted to projects for agriculture, fishing, and maquiladora industries.
Aug 24, 1994 Fifteen thousand protestors gathered in the plaza in Mexico City to protest election fraud from the August 21, 1994 election. The PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party) alleged election fraud. The PRD candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Solorzano, was also supported by the Zapatistas in Chiapas (Mayan Indians).
Dec 20, 1994 A severe economic crisis began in Mexico with the devaluation of the peso. Interest rates and inflation skyrocketed, businesses closed, and banks foreclosed on houses and farms. The Clinton administration put together a $50 billion package to help Mexico bail itself out of the crisis, but the package was relatively ineffective in terms of benefiting many Mexicans. A protest movement called Barzon, which formed in 1983 and consists of middle-class Mexicans (who comprise approximately 10 percent of the Mexican population), gained popularity as a result of the crisis. The Barzon claimed 500,000 members as of February 1995, but independent analysts claimed that the movement's following was much smaller. Barzon clubs also formed among Mexican immigrants in Texas and California. The movement calls for political democracy, economic equality, the rescheduling of debt payments to Mexico's banks, and the altering of government policies that movement followers claim hurt Mexican farmers.(The Houston Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1995)
Jan 7, 1995 Roman Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz called off his 15-day fast after the Mexican government agreed to negotiate with the Zapatistas.
Jan 15, 1995 Representatives from the Mexican government and the EZLN met for the first time in 10 months to discuss drawing up a formal truce. The meeting was held near the EZLN-controlled village of Guadalupe Tepeyac in Chiapas.
Feb 10 - 12, 1995 After federal agents discovered alleged Zapatista weapons caches in Mexico City and the state of Veracruz, President Ernesto Zedillo ordered the arrest of Zapatista leader Subcommandante Marcos and four others. Several hundred army troops occupied the village of San Andres Larrainzar, north of San Cristobal de las Casas. One of the four others that were ordered arrested, Jorge Santiago, was detained. Mexican troops combed the Chiapan jungles in search of Marcos and the other three individuals, causing many peasants to flee. Zapatistas allegedly drew first blood in the incident by attacking a military column, killing two soldiers (including a colonel) and wounding several others. As a result of the Mexican military offensive, the EZLN had surrendered twelve villages that comprised much of its territory. Marcos was not caught and no violence was reported in relation to the jungle deployment, but EZLN leaders issued a statement claiming that 4 army helicopters bombed areas around the towns of Morelia and La Garrucha. President Zedillo's chief of staff, Luis Tellez, and the Attorney General's office both issued statements denying EZLN claims regarding the helicopter bombings and maintained that the search for EZLN leaders was being carried out in a legal manner with full respect for human rights. Military roadblocks prevented food and medical supplies from entering Indian villages, and Guatemala promised to assist the Mexican military by preventing rebels from crossing the Mexico-Guatemala border. The United States State Department urged the Mexican government to use restraint in its attempt to arrest the rebel leaders but said the action would not damage U.S.-Mexico relations. In addition, seven supposed rebels were arrested and weapons were confiscated in connection with the discovery of the alleged Zapatista weapons caches. In a separate but related incident, 14 suspected rebels were arrested in the city of Toluca, about 50 miles west of Mexico City. A shootout between the alleged guerillas and state policemen occurred, and one policeman died in the incident while another was seriously injured. EZLN supporters held daily protests throughout Mexico. One protest held in Mexico City was attended by 100,000 people. In addition, a demonstration of roughly 200 in support of the Zapatistas also occurred in San Francisco, California, a city that contains a large number of Mexican immigrants. The crowd gathered outside of the Mexican Consulate.
Feb 12, 1995 The right-of-center opposition National Action Party won a sweeping victory in state elections in Jalisco and city elections in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city (The Houston Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1995).
Feb 13, 1995 The "transition? government of leftist journalist Amado Avendano, who officially lost the 1994 race for Chiapan governor, claimed that 12 people had been killed near the village of Monte Libano on the eastern edge of the Zapatista zone. The government denied reports of numerous civilian casualties, illegal detentions and incidents of torture issued by the EZLN and its supporters. PRI also suffered the biggest election defeat in its 65-year history by losing control of the state of Jalisco and its capital, Guadalajara, to the center-right National Action Party in a landslide vote. According to polls and incomplete official returns, the National Action Party took the statehouse, the city hall in Guadalajara (Mexico's second largest city), and nearly all of Guadalajara's other main city governments.
Feb 14 - 15, 1995 In an attempt to end the fighting that occurred as a result of a troop deployment in Chiapas to arrest EZLN leader Marcos and others, President Zedillo commanded a cease-fire and offered to negotiate with EZLN rebels. Zedillo also dismissed Eduardo Robledo Rincon, the PRI governor of Chiapas. In addition, the government allowed human rights observers and journalists to travel unescorted into the remote rain forest and farm country once controlled by the EZLN and now being combed by federal troops. Zedillo offered amnesty to rebels wishing to end the fight. In response to this offer, EZLN Major Ana Maria outlined several conditions for negotiation, mainly that the government withdraw troops, stop arresting people, and cancel the arrest orders against Zapatista leaders.
Feb 16, 1995 The Zapatistas released the former Chiapas governor, Absalon Castellanos, who was kidnapped on January 2, 1994.
Feb 19, 1995 A violent two-hour confrontation occurred outside a cathedral in San Cristobal de las Casas between members of an affluent landowner group called San Cristobal Civic Front and worshipers. The landowners, who despise Ruiz's activism, threw rocks, sticks, and eggs at the worshipers and also attacked several Indians who were guarding the sanctuary and Ruiz's offices. Ruiz, who has headed the National Commission of Intermediation, which has conducted talks between the EZLN and the Mexican government, was also nominated for the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his defense of impoverished Indians.
Feb 19 - 25, 1995 Members of the middle-class Barzon movement shut down banks in three Mexican states and staged a protest outside the headquarters of the government's central bank in Mexico City
Feb 20 - 23, 1995 Human rights groups, including government-sponsored monitors, reported cases of illegal detention, torture, and other abuses during the army offensive that began on February 9. The government's National Human Rights Commission also released a report saying that at least 4 suspected rebels that were arrested in Veracruz on February 8 were victims of torture at the hands of government agents.
Mar 10, 1995 Labor Minister Santiago Onate announced that 250,000 Mexicans had lost their jobs since the December 20, 1994 economic crisis, and he predicted that another 500,000 jobs will be lost in the coming months. (The Houston Chronicle, March 12, 1995) In addition, the former deputy attorney general, Mario Ruiz Massieu, was linked to political payoffs involving drug cartels.
Mar 13, 1995 Ruiz Massieu was arrested in New Jersey. The U.S. was considering extradition due to political corruption links in Mexico and links to the death of Colosio.
Mar 17, 1995 Maya Indian rebels agreed in principle to talks on ending the uprising in Chiapas, but rival territorial claims between the EZLN and the government/army held up formal peace negotiations. President Zedillo welcomed the rebels' agreement, but he indicated that the two sides are not ready to talk yet because the government is not willing to give up its sovereignty over the entire national territory - a demand that the EZLN has voiced.
Mar 30 - 31, 1995 Despite claiming that EZLN proposals for peace talks contained workable conditions, the Mexican government rejected resuming peace talks in Mexico City because some of the EZLN's conditions were also unfeasible. The Interior Ministry issued a statement proposing to the EZLN that it work with the National Mediation Committee regarding the talks' agenda, timetable, and possible negotiating sites in Chiapas. This response indirectly rejected the Zapatistas' proposal of four sites in Mexico City for resuming talks. The EZLN issued a statement appealing for a stable truce; calling for talks regarding political, social, and cultural issues; demanding political participation for the EZLN and its members; and suggesting four possible negotiation sites in Mexico City. As of this date, the government had not yet pulled back troops from areas that it occupied on or after February 9, but the government did order troops to lift military blockades in Chiapas and to redeploy in non-populated areas. In their statement, the rebels insisted that such action was not enough and that the federal troop presence in Chiapas made the suggested Mexico City venues autonomous and neutral sites for negotiation.
Apr 22, 1995 Peace talks between Zapatistas and the Mexican government resumed in San Andres Larrainzar, a small Chiapas town about 12 miles north of San Cristobal de las Casas. Mexican officials stated that arrest warrants for EZLN commanders would remain inactive as long as the talks continued. On April 9, eight envoys of the EZLN and three senior Interior Ministry officials met in the Lacandonian village of San Miguel, Chiapas and decided to hold the meetings in San Andres Larrainzar beginning on April 20. The meetings did not begin on April 20 because the government protested the gathering of more than 1000 pro-EZLN peasants in the main plaza of San Andres Larrainzar. The peasants finally left the plaza on April 21 at the reluctant request of EZLN leaders.
Apr 24, 1995 Peace talks between Zapatistas and the Mexican government were suspended after a deadlock was reached regarding the appropriate measures to prevent fighting in Chiapas.
May 1, 1995 Tens of thousands of angry workers marched through Mexico City to vent frustrations toward the government regarding low wages and high unemployment. Hundreds of riot police were on duty, but the demonstration was mostly peaceful. The nonviolent atmosphere was broken for only 10 minutes by protesters throwing bottles and rocks at the police, who responded by pulling out of throwing range.
May 13, 1995 Peace talks between the EZLN and government representatives resumed in San Andres Larrainzar. Arguments ensued over procedural issues, and the EZLN rejected a government proposal to move Zapatista troops into three camps in Chiapas, where the government would feed, house, and protect them for the duration of the talks.
May 16 - 17, 1995 Peace talks between the EZLN and the government ended with the EZLN accepting a limited government proposal to withdraw troops from 11 villages in Chiapas. Government officials stated that the army would most likely remain in the areas until June 7.
May 29, 1995 PAN won gubernatorial elections in the state of Guanajuato. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Jun 4, 1995 PRI won gubernatorial elections in the state of Yucatan. Fraud charges ensued. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Jun 6, 1995 Two thousand indigenous peasants shut down Mexico's stock market, the Bolsa, protesting against electoral fraud and economic recession. The protestors surrounded the stock market and did not allow people in or out of the building. This was the end of a 40 day march from the southeastern state of Tabasco to protest the fraud in state elections from November.
Jun 6, 1995 Mexican military officials received training and consultation from the Guatemalan government on issues of controlling and negotiating with rebel groups. Guatemala's rebel peasant group was based in Mexico City and Mexico housed over 100,000 Guatemalan refugee Indians. The two countries are working together to combat the guerilla groups and to coordinate military procedures toward them.
Jul 24 - 25, 1995 A fifth round of talks between the EZLN and government officials began with much bickering over the progress of negotiations. The government accused the EZLN of delaying a decision on the rules and procedures of the talks and rejected an EZLN proposal to set up a buffer zone between government and EZLN troops in Chiapas by creating a special corridor in which EZLN forces would withdraw. The government accused the EZLN of using the latter as a delaying tactic and of lacking sincerity and showing disrespect for Mexican society by not aiming for concrete results. The Zapatistas responded by calling these accusations government lies and by saying that their proposals were in accordance with negotiating principles. A representative from a religious mediating panel supported Zapatista demands that negotiations address national social and political issues by claiming that the problems in Chiapas have national repercussions.
Aug 27, 1995 The Zapatistas held a voluntary referendum in which a record (for a non-compulsory plebiscite) more than one million people participated. With slightly less than half of the votes counted, 56.2 percent of Mexicans answered yes to a question asking whether the EZLN should become an independent political organization. This was taken as a sign that most Mexicans felt that the EZLN should put down its weapons and become a political organization.
Sep 11, 1995 After five months of talks, the Zapatistas and the Mexican government reached a breakthrough by agreeing on an agenda for comprehensive negotiations that include attendance to the grievances behind the January 1, 1994 uprising. In the past, President Zedillo rejected the demand that negotiations attend to national themes of justice and democracy, but Zedillo, for the first time, proposed an indigenous bill of rights during these preliminary talks. Both sides agreed that four groups will discuss indigenous rights and culture during the first round of formal talks, set to have begun on October 1. The agreement appeared to be an offer made by a special legislative commission regarding discussion on reforming Mexico's electoral and political systems.
Oct 1995 Domingo Lopez Angel, a leader of a group of 600 Mayans who were expelled from San Juan Chamula for defying village leaders in 1993, was elected to the Chiapas state legislature. He was the first expulsado (expelled one) to reach this level in the Mexican political system. In preceding months, the government had provided the expulsados with $200,000 to rebuild and refurnish their homes. The expulsados responded by participating in the peace accords and planning to form their own political party. However, the expulsados claimed that three members of their community had been murdered so far in 1995.
Oct 27, 1995 The Mexican government released Fernando Yanez Munoz (arrested on Oct. 21), a leftist guerrilla and reported founder of the EZLN. Munoz was provided temporary amnesty that guarantees his freedom as long as government-EZLN peace talks continue.
Nov 13, 1995 Government-EZLN peace talks resumed. The Mexican government was under pressure to grant the rebels powers to govern themselves and their ancestral lands.
Dec 13, 1995 The Zapatistas called for regional discussions on Indian rights prior to the opening of peace talks with the Mexican government, scheduled to begin on January 10, 1996.
Dec 27, 1995 A confrontation between roughly 100 indigenous residents and federal troops occurred in the village of Oventic and lasted for several hours until the Indians forced the military to abandon plans to set up an encampment near the village.
Dec 29, 1995 PEMEX, Mexico's leading petroleum company, laid off half of its workforce of 200,000 as it was becoming privatized. The PEMEX union and workers had marched in and supported demonstrations in Mexico City and at specific plants that were being sold. (The Houston Chronicle, December 26, 1995)
Jan 1, 1996 The EZLN announced the formation of a political wing to work for democratic reform - the Zapatista National Liberation Front (FZLN). Subcommandante Marcos emphasized that the FZLN would not be a political party and would not seek power for its leaders or itself. Marcos also said that the FZLN would reject armed confrontation and would both work to reform the Mexican constitution and seek to become a grassroots organization.
Jan 1996 According to the Mexican military, the number of troops increased in Chiapas because the military detected cocaine and marijuana shipments in the area. Gen. Mario Renan Castillo said that troops destroyed 18 air strips believed to be used by drug traffickers. (The Fort Worth-Telegram February 7, 1996)
Feb 1996 Thousands of Mayan farmers and Indians blocked 64 oil wells owned by Mexico's state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), in Tabasco. The demonstrators demanded compensation for alleged environmental damage to their land caused by PEMEX. The oil blocks were led by the PRD, which also claimed that it was organizing the blockade in order to protest environmental damage caused by oil spills and leaked toxins. The Mexican government ordered the arrest of 58 left-wing leaders in connection with the demonstration and accused the PRD of using the environmental issue to try and unseat the governor of Tabasco, Mr. Roberto Madrazo, whose November 1994 election the PRD has continually contested.
Feb 8, 1996 Human rights groups charged the Mexican government with rights violations in connection with the February 1995 military offensive in Chiapas. Human Rights Watch, basing its report in part on the findings of the Mexican government's own National Human Rights Commission, charged the police with beating and torturing suspected EZLN leaders, judges with accepting confessions that they knew were coerced, the Attorney General's office with trying to cover up the abuses, and the Mexican legal system with prosecuting cases in an irregular fashion. Human Rights Watch urged the government to prosecute the police involved with the torturing incidents and to address human rights abuses as a whole in Mexico. In addition, a Mexico-based human rights group claimed that the detention of EZLN leaders in February 1995 was illegal because laws were broken in the process.
Feb 17, 1996 The EZLN and Mexican officials signed the first of six accords that are designed to end the uprising in Chiapas. The first accord dealt with Indian rights and culture and would give the Zapatistas more control over their natural resources, economies, and the election of their leaders.
Mar 17, 1996 The Cleveland Diocese, as part of the national United States Pastors For Peace program, sent truckloads of food and medical supplies to the poor in Chiapas. Pastors For Peace is an interdenominational group of clergy that provides humanitarian aid throughout North and South America.
Mar 21 - 22, 1996 Police and peasants clashed near the village of Nicolas Ruiz, about 40 miles southeast of San Cristobal de las Casas. The incident began with police arresting 125 peasants for squatting on land near Nicolas Ruiz. As the police were escorting those who had been arrested to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez, they were ambushed by peasants from the property on which the squatting occurred. Peasant leaders acknowledged that peasants were guilty of the ambush, but they charged the 300 Mexican police and soldiers with firing upon entering the property on which the squatting occurred. At least three peasants and two police officers were killed, and the incident disrupted EZLN-government peace talks for a brief period.
Apr 6, 1996 The EZLN holds an economic forum - the Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism - in the Lacandon rain forest that is attended by more than 500 people from the United States, Canada, Mexico and other nations. The EZLN said that the forum was an attempt to launch peaceful reform movements.
Apr 10 - 11, 1996 The National Forum of Indian Peoples was held in the village of Oventic, Chiapas and was hosted by the EZLN. Approximately 150 members of the Chontal, Otomi, Nahua, Chol, Purepecha and other tribes were in attendance. Those present agreed to create a nationwide movement to press for Indian rights, increased autonomy, and improvements in economic well-being, in addition to preserving Indian culture. Many in the group reject the EZLN's use of arms but identify with its desire for land, agricultural assistance, education, health care, and justice.
Apr 10 - 12, 1996 Organized by the Democratic Huastec Movement (MDH), between 1500 and 3000 Huasteco, Pame, Tenek and Nahua people began a hunger strike on April 10 in an attempt to get the federal government to offer them social programs, aid, and farm land. These indigenous people camped out in the middle of an open field in the state of San Luis Potosi to mark the 77th anniversary of the death of revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata. They displayed banners of support for the EZLN and for Luis Donaldo Colosio, the popular PRI presidential candidate assassinated in March 1994. Government officials met with those engaging in the hunger strike on April 12, but negotiations made no progress and the hunger strike continued.
Apr 17, 1996 All of Mexico's major political parties, except for PAN, agreed to fair election reforms that were supported by President Zedillo. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
May 1, 1996 Tens of thousands of Mexicans held a May day rally against the Mexican government, signaling discontent with President Zedillo and his strict economic policies. There were no official estimates of crowd size available, but one estimate put the crowd at more than 100,000 people. Buildings and statues were painted with slogans and anti-government chants were shouted by the protestors. No serious violence was reported. (The Houston Chronicle, May 2, 1996)
May 5, 1996 A violent conflict occurred between an autonomous paramilitary group - Chinchulines - and peasants in Bachajon, Chiapas. 6 people were killed, 28 people were arrested, 23 houses and businesses were burned, and vehicles were destroyed. The conflict arose from long-standing land disputes. Chinchulines was loosely affiliated with PRI and had arbitrarily detained villagers in Chiapas. Villagers responded by attacking the house of the Chinchulines' leader and killing him and two others. Two additional brief skirmishes occurred before fighting stopped.
Jul 1, 1996 Subcommandante Marcos denied that the EZLN has any connection with the Guerrero-based guerilla army, the EPR (Popular Revolutionary Army).
Jul 24, 1996 The Organization of American States' human rights commission released a detailed description of human rights abuses in Mexico, especially highlighting police and official corruption and the intimidation of political activists. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Aug 1996 The Zapatistas hosted The International Conference for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, an international conference designed to discuss the social costs of hardline free-market policies (Agence France Presse, August 4, 1996) and attended by anywhere between 2000 and 4000 people from more than 40 countries. Delegates agreed to use the Internet to set up a global communications network to fight these hardline policies, to organize an international day of action on November 20, 1996, to hold a second conference in Europe, and to organize a worldwide project to push for change.
Aug 10, 1996 Mexico's attorney general, Antonio Lozano Gracia, announced that the Mexican army will be put in charge of Mexico's anti-drug operations. Most of the troops were deployed in the Juarez region of Mexico, near the Mexican-U.S. border (specifically near El Paso, Texas). U.S. State Department official Robert Gelbard expressed support for the Mexican army's anti-drug operations. (Austin American-Statesman, August 10, 1996)
Aug 20, 1996 A Mexico City federal district court judge sentenced seven EZLN rebels to seven years in prison each after convicting them on explosives and weapons charges. Those sentenced denied that they are EZLN members, and their lawyers filed appeals.
Sep 3, 1996 The Zapatistas broke off peace talks with the government of Mexico, accusing government negotiators of arrogance and racism.
Oct 10, 1996 Indian representatives of 35 ethnic groups held another session of the CNI to push for legislative reforms that would permit development in their communities. Commandante Ramona, an EZLN delegate, was permitted to attend - an act that was hailed by many attending the CNI session.
Nov 11, 1996 PRI lost several mayoral races in the states of Mexico and Coahuila but retained control of the state legislatures. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Nov 26, 1996 Rival Tzeltal Mayan religious groups clashed with rocks and firearms in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, leaving one person dead and 19 injured. More than 200 Roman Catholic Indians of the leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party were pitted against the Protestant Evangelical Christian Community, which supports PRI. The Evangelicals were given land in Venustiano Carranza by the government in August 1996, but the Catholics considered the land to be theirs. In the past 25 years, more than 25,000 Indian converts to evangelical Christianity have been expelled from their communities in the Chiapas highlands.
1997 Zapatista supporters burned 16 of 18 ballot boxes in San Andres Larrainzar. This action was widely condemned, even by many Zapatista sympathizers.
Jan 6, 1997 Press sources reported that two new rebel groups had emerged in Mexico. The Armed Front for the Liberation of Marginalized Peoples of Guerrero (State) and the Justice Army of the Defenseless People had both recently issued statements demanding improved conditions and justice for the poor.
Jan 6, 1997 The Justice Army was blamed for the murders of four alleged bandits in Guerrero on Jan 1, 1997. Government officials assert that the rebel groups are merely criminals acting as organized guerrillas. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., January 6, 1996)
Mar 17, 1997 PRI lost elections in 18 of 32 townships that it previously controlled in the state of Morelos. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Apr 3, 1997 Government-EZLN peace talks stalled once again due to a clash between police and Tzotzil Indians in the village of San Pedro Nixtalucum on March 14, 1997. Four peasants died and several officers were injured in the fighting. The village is divided between EZLN and PRI supporters.
May 6, 1997 The United States announced that it will provide $6 million to Mexico to create a new anti-narcotics force that will replace the old one, which was viewed as corrupt. (The Washington Times, May 6, 1997)
Jun 8, 1997 A Mexican mediating commission urged the revival of EZLN-government peace talks. A panel led by Bishop Samuel Ruiz also requested that the government withdraw troops from Chiapas and implement the agreements regarding indigenous peoples' rights and culture reached with the EZLN in 1996. The accords were not yet instituted because the executive branch did not send the agreements to Congress for approval.
Jul 1997 PRI lost control of the national congress and of Mexico City's government in midterm elections. Many blamed the loss on Mexico's heightening economic crisis.
Jul 6, 1997 PRD candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas won mayoral elections in Mexico City. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Jul 13, 1997 Official results showed that PRI lost its majority in the 500-seat Mexican Chamber of Deputies. PRI subsequently contested the results. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Sep 9 - 17, 1997 Following an all-night rally in San Cristobal de las Casas attended by 10,000 people, nearly 3000 Zapatistas and their supporters took part in a 750-mile long march to Mexico City in hopes of regaining support for their cause and re-opening peace talks with the Mexican government. 50 buses carrying 1111 rebels, representing each of the villages in Zapatista territory, were followed by 30 more buses of observers and supporters. At least 70,000 people welcomed the marchers in Zocolo, Mexico City's main square, and thousands of students, union members, and leftists joined the marchers in a procession in the capital.
Sep 21, 1997 Clashes between EZLN and PRI supporters in Chiapas left two Mayans dead and 13 missing. PRI supporters also burned several houses.
Sep 28, 1997 Amnesty International released a report stating that human rights abuses in Mexico were worsening, especially regarding disappearances and unlawful arrests. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Nov 4, 1997 A convoy of church leaders, including Bishop Samuel Ruiz, was ambushed in a remote region of Chiapas where paramilitary groups were known to operate. Three Indian passengers were wounded in the attack on the mediators.
Nov 18 - 21, 1997 Six Tzotzil Mayan Zapatistas were killed in the highland town of Chenalho, Chiapas. Following the deaths of these Mayans, pro-PRI paramilitary guards stormed through the alleged Zapatista strongholds of Chimix, Pechiquil, Tzajalukum, and Cacateal, burning houses along the way. Numerous residents were forced to flee their homes and three people were reported missing.
Dec 22, 1997 - Jan 1, 1998 On December 22, a civilian paramilitary group linked to PRI killed at least 45 people in Acteal, a small village near the Mayan town of Chenalho. Authorities said that 31 people were also injured in the attack.
Jan 1 - 2, 1998 Mexican soldiers claimed to have discovered a wooden EZLN house that contained weapons near San Cristobal de las Casas. Roughly 300 women from a town near San Cristobal de las Casas conducted a protest march to La Esperanza following the army's claim, insisting that the weapons did not belong to anyone in the community. The women blocked a rural highway, but no arrests were made.
Jan 4 - 10, 1998 Marcos Gonzalez took office in San Andres Larrainzar after he and his followers - other Zapatista sympathizers - declared themselves the new officials and broke all ties with the Mexican government. For the past two years, Zapatista supporters had occupied county offices in San Andres Larrainzar, and Indians in at least 13 other municipalities had also severed ties with the state government. Gonzalez's government was broke because it receives no federal or state support.
Jan 6, 1998 The army increased its efforts to confiscate arms from paramilitaries and Zapatistas. The defense ministry said that it had confiscated 40 firearms and 14,000 bullets since December 25, 1997. Subcommandante Marcos said the peace process in Chiapas had collapsed in the wake of the army reinforcing its presence in the region after the Acteal massacre.
Jan 10, 1998 In Mexico City, Zapatista supporters blockaded the Mexican stock exchange. Militants also seized two radio stations, and camped out on the city's main boulevard.
Jan 12, 1998 Felipe Vazquez, the top police official in Chiapas, was arrested for transporting and delivering weapons to civilians involved with the Acteal massacre.
Jan 12 - 14, 1998 In Ocosingo, Chiapas, pro-Zapatista protestors held a demonstration to demand that a police checkpoint at the town's entrance be removed. Demonstrators began to throw stones at police and the police retaliated by opening fire. One woman was killed and two others, including the woman's 3-year-old daughter, were injured. The Mexican army arrested 27 policemen on charges of mishandling the demonstration.
Jan 14, 1998 The Justice Army of the Defenseless People claimed credit for a recent attack on a police station that left two officers seriously injured. In a Jan. 5 letter to Guerrero officials, the rebels said the assault was in retaliation for the Acteal massacre. (Copley News Service, January 14, 1998)
Jan 25, 1998 The Chiapan government freed 300 prisoners in what officials called a "show of political will" (New York Times, January 25, 1998) to help re-open peace talks with Zapatistas. The prisoners released were mostly highland Indian farmers who were serving sentences for minor crimes.
Jan 28, 1998 Rubicel Ruiz Gamboa, the leader the Democratic Assembly of the People of Chiapas and a member of the opposition party PRD, was assassinated in Tuxtla Guiterrez. The Democratic Assembly of the People of Chiapas had distanced itself from the EZLN in recent years.
Feb 1, 1998 Mauro Generaro Marin, a PRD leader in Guerrero, was assassinated. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Feb 1 - 7, 1998 Father Gonzalo Ituarte, a member of a pro-Zapatista group that has mediated in peace talks, publicly stated that many of the victims of the Acteal massacre belonged to a group called Las Abejas (The Bees), which supports the Zapatistas' political aims but not their decision to use arms.
Feb 8, 1998 The National Intermediation Committee (CONAI), an independent group observing the Chiapas peace process, claimed that more than 15,000 Zapatista sympathizers and other opposition organizers had been intimidated into leaving their lands in recent months. According to human rights groups, paramilitary groups linked to PRI have burned the homes of some of the displaced. This displacement had also occurred in the midst of the coffee harvest, the main source of income for most highland peasants. The federal government and PRI denied responsibility for the forced resettlement, attributing it instead to long-standing land disputes between various local organizations.
Feb 12, 1998 At an Amnesty International meeting in Dublin, Mexico's ambassador to Ireland encountered a protest that bordered on hostility. The demonstration was held to protest recent violence in Mexico, particularly the Acteal massacre.
Feb 16, 1998 Roughly 5,000 Zapatista held a protest to call on the government to honor the peace accord signed on February 17, 1996. The protestors also called for peace in Chiapas.
Feb 18, 1998 The Red Cross suspended operations in Chiapas because the Mexican government had banned foreigners from entering into the region, causing some 20,000 people to lose medical assistance.
Feb 21, 1998 After discussing their human rights situation with the International Civilian Observation Commission for Human Rights (CCIODH), a group of Chiapan Mayans were attacked by a paramilitary group called Peace and Justice, whom the Mayans believe executed the Acteal massacre. One person was killed and four were injured.
Apr 8 - 9, 1998 Violent land and property disputes occurred in Oaxaca. In one incident, about 300 Huave Indians from the village of San Francisco del Mar attempted to reclaim more than 120,000 acres of land held by Zapotecs of Ixhuatan. Three Huave Indians were killed, 5 people were injured, and at least 4 thatch houses in Ihnuatan were burned. Ixhuatan residents responded with a similar raid. About 600 Indian families were chased from their homes due to the fighting. Ixhuatan inhabitants have held the land for about 30 years, despite a presidential decree in favor of San Francisco.
Apr 10 - 11, 1998 The EZLN seized a ranch near the town of Ocosingo on April 10 and declared it an ?autonomous? town. The following day, responding to orders given by Chiapas Governor Roberto Albores, 800 troops and additional federal, state, and highway police expelled the EZLN from the ranch. Authorities said that no violence occurred during the expulsion. 19 people were arrested, including 11 foreigners.
Apr 25, 1998 An estimated 10,000 Mayans rallied outside a cathedral in San Cristobal de las Casas to show their support for Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who had been the target of severe criticism by the government for his role in the Chiapas conflict.
May 31, 1998 Environmentalists reported that 230 wildfires were currently blazing across Mexico. The Mexican government reported that 10,000 fires have destroyed an estimated 700,000 acres across Mexico since January 1998. The worst fires seemed to be concentrated in the Chimalpas region on the border between Oaxaca and Chiapas, where 49 fires were currently blazing. An estimated 16,800 acres were burned so far in this area. The government blamed the slash-and-burn agricultural practices of many Mexican peasants for the fires, and environmentalists retaliated by placing blame on the Mexican government for neglecting poor Mexican farmers and for not modernizing their agricultural techniques. (The Washington Post, May 31, 1998)
Jun 7, 1998 Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who had played the role of the main mediator in the Chiapas conflict, announced his resignation in protest over what he called government intransigence.
Jun 10, 1998 The EZLN and security forces clashed in the remote Chiapan villages of Union Progreso and Chavajeval (both in the El Bosque municipality). It was the bloodiest fighting between the EZLN and security forces since the February 1995 army offensive in Chiapas. A police officer and eight alleged Zapatista rebels were killed, between 52 and 56 people were arrested, and weapons and Molotov cocktails were confiscated, according to State Attorney General Rodolfo Soto. Other villagers fled into the nearby forest. The troops said they were fired on and then lobbed tear gas and began firing their weapons. Residents said the military fired on their villages first.
Jun 22, 1998 Three Mexican soldiers were killed in what the government claimed was a guerilla ambush in the mountains north of the resort of Zihuatanejo.
Aug 1, 1998 Government officials escorted 70 Protestants to their homes in the Chiapas village of Icalumtic, one week after they were expelled by local Catholics in a religious dispute.
Aug 1998 Hector Sanchez, a full-blooded Zapotec Indian, original member of COCEI, and PRD senator, competed in the Oaxacan gubernatorial election. Sanchez claimed that while he ultimately disagrees with the actions of the EPR, he understands why the grinding poverty experienced by many Mexicans could lead them to join such a group. As of this date, COCEI claimed that 50 of its members had been assassinated and 600 jailed on bogus charges since the organization's inception. (The Atlanta Journal, August 1, 1998)
Oct 5, 1998 Subcommandante Marcos announced that while the EZLN would not take part in elections in Chiapas, neither would it disrupt voting in 102 towns across Chiapas.
Oct 10 - 12, 1998 The National Indigenous Congress (CNI) held its annual meeting in Mexico City and reaffirmed its support for the Zapatista guerrillas and for efforts toward a negotiated solution to the conflict in Chiapas. The CNI also announced that it would increase its fight for autonomy for indigenous communities. More than 500 representatives of 20 groups participated in the CNI.
Nov 20 - 22, 1998 Zapatista rebels held a three-day public gathering in San Cristobal de las Casas, demanding political rights for indigenous people. Workshops were attended by roughly 1000 people and 29 rebel delegates.
Dec 1 - 3, 1998 A three-day battle over land ownership and destruction of produce between the Oaxacan Zapotec mountain communities of San Lorenzo Texmelucan and Santo Domingo Teojomulco occurred and left at least 14 people dead and 10 injured. Officials also found signs of torture on several of the dead bodies. Hector Anuar Mafud, secretary general of Oaxaca state, said the courts would deliver a verdict in a civil suit over the land in a few months. It is not clear whether or not that verdict has been handed down.
Dec 22, 1998 Roughly 4000 Mayans, many from EZLN-run villages, marked the first anniversary of the Acteal massacre by walking from the community of Polho to Acteal, chanting anti-government slogans.
Jan 13, 1999 500 army troops and federal and state police arrived in Chiapas to burn marijuana fields and clashed with Tzotzil Mayan Indians. A group of 50 Tzotzil Mayans blocked a road and hurled stones at the security forces. Several people were injured.
Jan 14, 1999 Human Rights Watch released a report, compiled over a two-year period, stating that Mexican soldiers and police routinely commit human rights abuses that range from using illegal evidence to kidnapping to torture to murder. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Feb 7, 1999 PRD won gubernatorial elections in the state of Baja California Sur. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Feb 14 - 15, 1999 U.S. President Clinton and Mexican President Zedillo signed anti-drug trafficking accords, specifically how to measure anti-trafficking campaigns. (Chattanooga Times and Free Press, February 16, 1999)
Feb 14 - 22, 1999 PRI won gubernatorial elections in the states of Quintana Roo, Hidalgo and Guerrero. Charges of fraud were made regarding the Quintana Roo and Guerrero elections. (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1999)
Mar 9, 1999 6 police officers and one civilian were killed when gunmen opened fire on a police patrol that was looking for drug traffickers in Guerrero. (The Washington Times, March 9, 1999)
Mar 17, 1999 Zapatistas joined other protestors to reject increased university fees and plans to privatize the electricity sector.
Mar 29, 1999 16 alleged Zapatistas reportedly turned themselves in to Chiapas Gov. Roberto Albores Guillen. "This is a historic moment," (Chicago Sun-Times, July 13, 1999) Albores said as he accepted the rebels? move. Guillen declared that as many as 20,000 rebels had deserted the EZLN since the beginning of the uprising on January 1, 1994. However, a weekly magazine, Proceso, reported subsequently that the desertion was set up by PRI to drain the rebels' morale and to try to win approval for a pending amnesty bill. Proceso claimed that half of the supposed deserters turned out to be local PRI members who had dressed in Zapatista-esque garb for the occasion.
Apr 7 - 9, 1999 On April 7, 300 state police officers recaptured the town hall of San Andres Larrainzar from Zapatista rebels. The officers expelled the only two Zapatistas who were there. No violence occurred and no arrests were made.
Apr 20, 1999 Students occupied the campus of The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City to protest a planned increase in tuition from a few cents to the equivalent of $140 per year. The strike would last for nine months. The university contains roughly 270,000 students. (The Washington Times, February 15, 2000)
Jun 15, 1999 Local officials in Mitziton, Chiapas released 13 Protestants who were arrested three days earlier after they angered villagers by attempting to build a church. Hundreds of Catholic Mayans demanded that the Protestants be expelled from their Chiapan communities. Many residents of the communities see their mixture of Catholicism and traditional Maya Indian beliefs as crucial to their culture's survival.
Jul 17 - 18, 1999 Catholic Mayan Tzotzil Indians from a settlement outside of San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, set fire to a Protestant church in San Juan Chamula. Fighting ensued and several people were injured. Unconfirmed reports also claimed that several people were killed in the fighting.
Aug 22 - 31, 1999 The Mexican government released 150 of approximately 5000 indigenous detainees as part of an early release program announced by the government's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The majority of indigenous inmates were arrested in connection with drug smuggling, fights involving weapons, and drug production and trafficking. (Inter Press Service, August 31, 1999)
Nov 3 - 4, 1999 After nearly 40 years as head of the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Bishop Samuel Ruiz officially retired during a two-day retirement celebration.
Nov 26, 1999 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urged Mexico to significantly reduce the number of troops in Chiapas. Robinson said the heavy presence of Mexican troops (estimated number = 25,000) in Chiapas was causing rights abuses of indigenous peoples at a grassroots level.
Dec 10, 1999 Militant Mayan Indians from San Juan Chamula attempted to free imprisoned colleagues in San Cristobal de las Casas. Officials reported that the Indians assaulted a state prison with automatic weapons, killing one child and allowing more than 40 inmates to escape. The attackers were believed to have been engaged in a long struggle with village authorities over the right to practice Evangelical Protestantism in a community where a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Indian beliefs has been virtually mandatory.
Feb 6, 2000 Police put an end to the nine month student strike at The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) by storming the campus and arresting 745 activists who kept up the demonstration despite its rising unpopularity. Roughly 2500 strike supporters marched in opposition to the re-opening of the university, and about 100 of these supporters clashed with non-strike students outside of the university's law school. Students shouted and hurled debris at one another, but there were no reports of injuries. Over the course of the strike, the die-hard supporters had refocused the movement away from the tuition issue into a protest against market economics and Mexico's PRI-dominated political system. (The Washington Times, February 15, 2000)
Feb 21, 2000 An independent, nonprofit, political magazine called In These Times published an article about the situation in Chiapas. The article is entitled ?Mexico's Dirty War: Six Years after the Zapatista Uprising? and is written by Bill Weinberg. The article made a number of claims regarding the situation in Chiapas. According to Weinberg, 60,000 federal army troops were currently stationed in Chiapas, and many settlements in the Lacandon region had been occupied by federal troops. Weinberg maintained that despite this troop presence, the autonomous communities loyal to the EZLN continued to operate clandestinely.
Apr 1, 2000 Arizmendi Esquivel took over for Bishop Samuel Ruiz as head of the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas. Church officials decided in December of 1999 to transfer Ruiz's expected successor, Bishop Raul Vera, from Chiapas to Saltillo in northern Mexico.
May 17, 2000 PRI approved the first presidential primary elections to be held in Mexico. Secret, nationwide balloting would replace the president choosing his successor. The new rules that PRI approved also contained stipulations concerning spending, campaign funding, and candidate resignation. (The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.), May 18, 1999)
Jul 2, 2000 Vincente Fox, the National Action Party (PAN) candidate, won Mexico's presidential elections, defeating PRI. PRI had governed Mexico for 71 years. Fox defeated Francisco Labasida of the PRI and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the PRD. Fox stated that he planned to re-open negotiations with the EZLN. The EZLN did not immediately respond to the election results. (Agence France Presse, July 3, 2000)
Jul 4, 2000 The PRD rejected an invitation by President-elect Vincente Fox to join him in a "concord government" (Agence France Presse, July 5, 2000). PRI did not immediately respond to Fox's offer. (Agence France Presse, July 5, 2000)
Jul 7, 2000 PRI supporters in Nezahualcoyotl attacked the local office of the electoral institute, claiming that local mayoral elections on July 2 were fraudulent. PRI supporters clashed with police and 20 supporters and one police officer were injured. Police used teargas to disperse the crowd.

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