Actions around Australia condemn violence in Mexico

February 25, 1998


Actions around Australia condemn violence in Mexico

By Neville Spencer

In response to the escalation of violence in Mexico, activists in Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney organised protest actions on February 16 to condemn the Mexican government's involvement.

Particularly in the southern state of Chiapas, where an indigenous uprising began four years ago, pro-government paramilitary groups have sprung up.

These groups, composed primarily of members of the ruling party, have killed hundreds of people and targeted communities known to support the rebel Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The massacre of 45 men, women and children on December 22 was the worst single incident so far.

February 16 marked the second anniversary of the signing of the Accord on Indigenous Rights and Culture by the EZLN and the Mexican government. The Mexican government has since refused to pass legislation to enact the accord.

The protest actions demanded that the accord be implemented, that those behind the massacres be brought to justice and that the state of Chiapas be demilitarised. There is ample evidence of collusion between the government, security forces and the paramilitaries in the massacres.

In Brisbane a picket of 20 people supported by Committees in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean (CISLAC), Australian Aid for El Salvador and Amnesty International was held in the mall.

In Canberra, solidarity activists presented a petition to the Mexican ambassador. The petition, with around 1000 signatures, was organised by CISLAC and sponsored by a number of solidarity and human rights organisations.

It called on the Mexican government to release political prisoners and put an end to the use of torture by police and military forces.

In Sydney, 20 people protested outside the Mexican consulate, engaging in an argument with the consul general. Groups involved in organising the protest in Sydney have decided to form a Mexico Solidarity Committee.

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