Tom Hayden

U.S.- Supported Low-Intensity War in Chiapas

More than anything, I went to Chiapas to explore whether resistance is possible to the New World Order first vocalized by George Bush and implemented by Bill Clinton's multiple trade agreements. One of few centers of resistance to this North American corporate dominance was the 1994 Zapatista uprising with its declaration that "NAFTA is death." Cheap NAFTA corn, for example, would be flooding into regions like Chiapas, displacing subsistence farming, and destroying cultural traditions in which corn has embodied spiritual values. The main Western interest in indigenous culture is in obtaining and patenting seeds that may have commercial value. Now that firms like Monsanto and Novartis have come to Chiapas in order to sell genetically-modified and corporate-controlled seed -- promoted by the Monsanto slogan "Food, Health, Hope" -- it seems inevitable that Mayan campesinos will be forced off their traditional ejidos in jungle canyons to sweatshops in the cement canyons of El Norte.

The Mexican government is sensitive to Yankee interference, so I knew that if I explicitly asked to meet the Zapatistas, I might be turned down. I also knew that Mexican officials routinely denied the existence of the Chiapas conflict, and refused to use the term "war" at all. When I visited the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, I looked over the glossy brochures depicting Chiapas as a charming place of archeological interest, and mentioned to the consulate officials my longtime desire to visit the temples at Palenque. After assuring me that tourists are safer in Chiapas than any part of Mexico "because of the army presence," the Mexican official indirectly noted that I could visit Palenque by taking roads that happened to pass through Zapatista communities. I was given a "distinguished visitor's visa" which would prove useful at army checkpoints in the jungle.

J. Ramón Gil-García
Rockefeller College Review, Volume 1., No. 2   The Change in Mexican Agrarian Policy
Article 27: The Change in Mexican Agrarian Policy and the Policy Formulation Process in the Developing World

Only a few scholars have empirically analyzed public policy formulation in Mexico. The purpose of this paper is to begin an understanding of that topic, and present the potential limitations of applying an American theoretical framework to the politic s of other places. Many countries have not developed their own theories and need to use foreign approaches to understand their own society. Sometimes, the American approaches prove useful for analyzing other countries. However, with these theories, it is difficult to take into consideration institutional and cultural differences.

The political system in Mexico is formally very similar to that of the United States. However, in practice, some important differences affect the policy formulation process. In the case of an important 1992 change in Mexican agrarian policy, the initiation process was, contrary to the American theory, highly authoritarian and little in the way of real participation by political actors outside of the President’s office took place. There were many actors in the formulation process, but they played secondary roles. The political, cultural, and institutional conditions in the country helped the president of Mexico to remain the principal, and perhaps the only actual player in this process.

Chapter 1
Article 102: Objectives

(a) eliminate barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross border movement of, goods and services between the territories of the Parties

1917 Constitution of Mexico
In the Nation is vested the direct ownership of all natural resources of the continental shelf and the submarine shelf of the islands; of all minerals or substances, which in veins, ledges, masses or ore pockets, form deposits of a nature distinct from the components of the earth itself, such as the minerals from which industrial metals and metalloids are extracted; deposits of precious stones, rock-salt and the deposits of salt formed by sea water; products derived from the decomposition of rocks, when subterranean works are required for their extraction; mineral or organic deposits of materials susceptible of utilization as fertilizers; solid mineral fuels; petroleum and all solid, liquid, and gaseous hydrocarbons; and the space above the national territory to the extent and within the terms fixed by international law.

Harry Cleaver, editor
Text anti-copyright @ 1994 Autonomedia

January 1 - The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) emerges from the Lacandona Jungle, occupies the Chiapas highland towns of Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Altamirano and San Cristo'bal de las Casas, resulting in two police dead in Ocosingo. The EZLN takes over municipal buildings, frees prisoners from jails, opens government shops to the populace. The EZLN issues the Declaration from the Lacandona Jungle, denouncing NAFTA as a "death sentence" for Mexican Indians, demanding legal recognition as a legitimate belligerent force against the Federal Army, announcing their intent to comply with the Geneva Conventions and international law, and calling upon the world community to pressure the Mexican government to do likewise.

Cecilia Rodriguez
Speech to Native Forest Network, November 1994
courtsey ACTLAB@ the University of Texas

I should focus on the state of emergency in Mexico, I should try to explain to you the global significance of the struggle of the Zapatistas. Perhaps to some of you the struggle of the Zapatistas is unknown or little known. It is about a handful of Indians who have taken up arms in a remote area of Mexico, or, as the mainstream media has successfully portrayed, a guerrilla group supporting the Party for the Democratic Revolution (PRD), a coalition of progressive and some mainstream forces, which opposes the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), the party which has held power for 65 years, the perfect dictatorship as Carlos Fuentes has called it. As far as you may know, there is a conflict between two political parties in Mexico, but for the most part Mexico is stable, peaceful, progressive. This is the way in which the powers that be want you to understand reality, they want you to perceive the struggle of the Zapatistas as a marginal one, an insignificant one which has little consequences for each of you. This, I tell you now, is a lie.

Claire Pentecost

CAE Press Release

In the case of genetically modified agriculture, transgenic crops were approved by the FDA for commercial use in 1994 with no studies on the long term effects on human health and the natural environment, no plan for tracking those effects, no liability for the corporations selling this technology, and no public debate. Slowly over the last decade, US consumers have become aware that all foods containing corn, soy or canola are genetically modified, unless they are labeled organic. Still the majority of the population does not realize they are part of an immense unregulated experiment. There are no labels for these ingredients. When the industry states that there are no studies on these products indicating harm to human health, what they are saying is that there are no studies.

The one bona fide independent study conducted did suggest damage to the intestines and other organs of rats. This study basically ended the 36 year career of Dr. Arpad Pusztai at the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland. Days after he spoke publicly of his findings in August 1998, Dr. Pusztai was removed from service, his research papers were seized, and his data confiscated; and he was prohibited from talking to anyone about his research work.