Tri-National Friendship Delegation to arrive in Chiapas
by Tom Hansen, Jun 26, 1998
A delegation of 120 will arrive in Chiapas, Mexico, on July 2 on a friendship mission to visit Indigenous communities that have suffered recent attacks by death squads. The Mexico Solidarity Network, a coalition of 55 organizations from the US and Canada, is organizing the delegation. Of the 120 participants, 77 are from the US, three from Canada and 40 from Mexico.
Delegates will spend one week in Chiapas, visiting indigenous communities such as Acteal, site of a December 22nd massacre in which 46 Indians died, and El Bosque, site of a massacre on June 10 in which at least 11 Indians died. In conjunction with the delegation, the Mexico Solidarity Network organized a campaign to raise funds for the 19,000 internally displaced refugees who have been forced from their homes by death squad activity. So far, over $10,000 has been raised.
The Tri-National Friendship Delegation arrives in Chiapas at a time when the Mexican government appears to be waging a campaign against foreigners in the region. Since February, about 60 foreign nationals have been expelled from Mexico, and the Mexican government has tightened restrictions on visitors who are involved in human rights or humanitarian aid work. Human rights observers are required to provided copies of previously published human rights reports and be members of recognized human rights organizations with a history of at least five years. Human rights observers must request special FM-3 visas to enter Mexico 60 days in advance of their trip and are allowed to spend only ten days in the country.
The Tri-National Friendship Delegation will comply strictly with the letter and spirit of Mexican law. The Tri-National is a friendship delegation, not a human rights delegation. As such, delegates will travel under the required tourist visas. Under Mexican law, visitors' travel can only be restricted if a "state of war" is declared in a region. Currently Chiapas enjoys a "state of rights" and, as such, the delegation expects to be able to travel uninhibited throughout the state. The delegation will comply strictly with all Mexican laws, including prohibitions against foreign intervention in Mexico's internal political affairs.
The delegation includes a contingent of eight Native Americans representing the following nations: Pascua Yaqui, Oglala Sioux, and Rosebud Sioux. Representatives of the religious community include a Catholic priest, two Sisters of St. Francis, the director of the Strategic Pastoral Action Network, and two members of the Michigan Faith and Resistance Peace Teams. The Canadian delegates are from Montreal and British Columbia. Also included are two Professors from Northwestern University; a professor from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa; a professor from Princeton; a father-daughter-son team from Boulder, Colorado; a representative of Doctors for Global Health from Syracuse, NY,; a doctor from Berkeley, California; and a student from Yale University. Delegates from the US hale from 23 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, SD, TX, VA and WI.
For more information, contact:
Mexico Solidarity Network
4834 N Springfield
Chicago IL 60625
773-583-7728 or e-mail
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