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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Mexico press ponders Zapatista future
Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos
The armed struggle could be a thing of the past
Leading newspapers in Mexico have received the news that Zapatista rebels are apparently set to announce a major political initiative with cautious optimism.

The absence of any major clashes between the Zapatistas and Mexican security forces over the past few years is one reason commentators are encouraged by the Zapatista declaration that it hopes to join with workers and students to bring social justice to Mexico.

However, the absence of concrete proposals in the Zapatistas' "Sixth declaration from the Lacandon Jungle", which ends with the words "to be continued", means that many are taking a wait-and-see approach.

It is interpreted as an offer to abandon the armed struggle
La Jornada

While most papers give more prominence to the decision to grant Mexican nationals living abroad a postal vote, the left-wing La Jornada splashes the Zapatista story across its front page.

"Fox: 'I am at your service, Mr Marcos'," runs one lead headline in the daily, referring to Mexican President Vicente Fox and Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos.

The other lead headline says: "EZLN [Zapatista National Liberation Army] to join forces with the workers". A sub-head says: "It is interpreted as an offer to abandon the armed struggle".

La Jornada publishes the declaration in full, which starts: "This is our simple word on what we have achieved and where we are at the present time, to explain how we view the world and our country and to invite others who walk along the same path to join us in something very great which is called Mexico and in something even greater, which is called the world."

Maybe the EZLN decision will prove to be a farewell to the dawn of the insurgencies. This could herald the arrival of their midday
Reforma commentator

The declaration concludes: "We have reached a point where we cannot advance any further. A new step forward in the Indian struggle is only possible if the Indian joins workers, farmers, students, teachers, and employees. We could loose everything we have if we stay as we are."

"Fox places himself at the disposition of 'Mr Marcos'," says a headline in La Cronica de Hoy. Its report continues: "Vicente Fox Quesada gave the most cordial welcome to the EZLN decision to abandon the armed option and invited subcomandante Marcos to sit down and talk about participating in Mexico's democratic life."

'Farewell to arms'

Writing in Reforma, Froylan M Lopez Narvaez describes the initiative as "huge", saying it emerged "at astonishing speed" and appears to herald "a major change" in Zapatista thinking.

The commentator believes the search for new avenues of change is not the sole preserve of "rebellious Indians" but is being pursued by a much wider cross section of people - not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa.

"Maybe the EZLN decision will prove to be a farewell to arms, a farewell to the dawn of the insurgencies. This could herald the arrival of their midday."

However, El Universal commentator Alejandro Gertz Manero is pessimistic that real change can occur in Mexico while a system of government exists which "obliges people to follow the rules while breaking them itself".

We can't have groups who are granted privileges without being asked to give up their arms and take off their masks
Quote in Excelsior

Accusing the authorities of "abuse, self-enrichment and repression" he goes on: "Within this reality of the Mexican social contract, the country has grown, thanks to its inexhaustible natural resources, but with great difficulty and at immense cost to the millions who battle daily to survive."

A report in Excelsior quotes the presidential candidate in next year's election for the National Action Party - the PAN - Francisco Barrio as warning the government "not to give a blank cheque" to the Zapatistas.

"We can't have groups who are granted privileges. Who are welcomed into the democratic contest without being asked to give up their arms and take off their masks," Mr Barrio is quoted as saying.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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