Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mexico: dialogue with EPR guerillas?

An AP report portrays President Felipe Calderón's decision to open talks with Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) as part of his push to open the oil industry to private partnerships—given the guerillas' attacks on pipelines last year. "The government wanting to negotiate is a prudent move and a solid move," said George Baker, a Houston, Texas-based analyst who follows Mexico's state-owned oil company, Pemex. "But it's not a move out of strength, but out of weakness. The prospect of a military defense of these pipelines is not something any government or any company wants to contemplate."

The report also garbles both the name of the rebel group and its acronym, rendering it "People's Revolutionary Army, known as the ERP". (AP, May 1)

In an April 28 communiqué, the EPR offered to suspend attacks during a dialogue with the government through intermediaries. It has been seeking the release of two followers it maintains were disappeared by the government last May. Government Secretary Juan Camilo Mouriño said the administration would accept the proposal if the guerillas ceased their campaign of sabotage but did not offer them amnesty. (NYT, April 29)

The government has named an "intermediation commission" made up of federal legislators and prominent intellectuals (mostly of the left) and Samuel Ruiz, the former Chiapas Bishop who led the dialogue with the Zapatista rebels in the 1990s. The commission released a statement calling on the government to clarify conditions for the talks after meeting at the Mexico City offices of the NGO Services and Consulting for Peace (Serapaz). In addition to Ruiz, the signatories include Miguel Ángel Granados Chapa, Enrique González Ruiz, Juan de Dios Hernández, Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, Gilberto López y Rivas and Carlos Montemayor y Samuel Ruiz García. (Cronica de Hoy, May 2)

The chief of the Oaxaca Ministerial Police, Pedro Hernández, who has been called to Mexico City pending an investigation by the federal Special Sub-prosecutor for Organized Delinquency (SIEDO) into the disappearance of EPR militants Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz, protested that he is serving as a "scapegoat." (Milenio, May 1)

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