Support Committee

 Last Friday (September 6, 2002) the Mexican Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of the 320-plus constitutional challenges to the law on indigenous rights and culture which became law approximately one year ago.  By an 8-3 decision, the Court upheld the new law.

 The new law, often referred to as "Cocopa Light" or the counter-reform, represents a watered-down version of the San Andres peace accords, negotiated and signed by the Zapatistas and the federal government in 1996.  The Cocopa, a Congressional Committee, then prepared the language for the necessary constitutional amendments based on the San Andres Accords.  The Zapatistas agreed to support the Cocopa language, but the law that was ultimately approved by the full Congress bore little resemblance to the San Andres Accords or to the Cocopa language.

 The original San Andres accords granted indigenous communities autonomy, respect for traditions and customs and control over their natural resources.  The new law failed to grant autonomy to indigenous peoples and failed to grant them control over the natural resources on their lands.

 Indigenous organizations throughout Mexico strongly supported the San Andres Accords and the passage of the Cocopa language. They were angered by the passage of the counterreform and filed more than 320 constitutional challenges to the new law. They consider the new law a betrayal by the Mexican government.

 Due to the tense situation in Chiapas after last month's PRI/paramilitary violence and the Supreme Court decision, the Chiapas Support Committee is organizing an emergency delegation to Chiapas from October 5-12 in solidarity with indigenous communities.  

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