On the third of May 1996, through a radio transmission, we found out about the sentence handed down to Jorge Javier Elorriaga Berdegue and Sebastian Entzin Gomez, declaring them guilty of the crimes of conspiracy, rebellion and terrorism.
The Judge from the Mexican Court Juan Alcantara condemned Jorge Javier Elorriaga Berdegue to 13 years jail, a fine of 75 working days wages and a four years suspension of his political rights and Sebastian Entzin Gomez to six years of prison and a fine of 40 working days wages and a two year suspension of his political rights.
The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, in Spanish) takes these sentences of the presumed member of EZLN as a clear sign of war.
This means that for the Mexican government the Zapatistas are terrorists that have to be jailed and killed. The process of the dialog between EZLN and Mexican Federal Government has received a severe setback as a result of these harsh penalties.
The sentences against these presumed Zapatistas has various targets, one of them is the Commission of Agreement and Peace making(Cocopa, in Spanish), the sentence against Elorriaga and Entzin is a sentence against the efforts of peace making by a group of legislators who in the main have had a dignified and brave attitude that has not been curtailed in their efforts to obtain a successful process of dialog, in other words, peace with justice and dignity that the Mexican people deserve.
Judge Juan Alcantaras decision wipes out all the peace efforts of the COCOPA and makes a mockery of the Mexican legislature. For the National Intermediary Commission (CONAI), always committed to dialog and harassed and held hostage by the government, this is the proof of the disregard of those in power.
Another target of the sentences is the Body of Advisers for Peace with Justice and Dignity. This independent body was set up to seek peace and to avoid the reinitiation of the armed violence and join the EZLN in the Dialog of San Andres Sacamch'en de los Pobres.
Judge Juan Alcantara's decision condemns all Mexican men and women who work for the building of peace in Mexico, and categorises them as terrorists. Mexican personalities and organisations beyond suspicion share the label as terrorists designated by the only terrorist in Mexico: the government.
Also, the sentencing of the presumed Zapatistas attempts to intimidate media workers. Journalist by profession, Mr Elorriaga has seen how his work as a journalist is used as proof of his guilt and is used as support for his sentence. In Mexico today, journalism is synonymous with terrorism.
National and international civil society, that force without face or name, which seeks the transition to democracy through civil and legal means, sees condemned its efforts and confirmed its fear that the peaceful path for change is still not open in Mexico.
Lastly, the main target of this verdict is the EZLN. For the government to compare our just struggle for a dignified life with terrorism, is to warn us that there is no possible way for us to return to public life and peaceful politics. The only future that the government offers us, at the end of the process of dialog and negotiation is prison and death.
All the efforts of dialog and peaceful struggle that the EZLN has undertaken since its public appearance in January 1994, have been condemned along with these presumed Zapatistas.
We want to tell the government that we have received the message, and that we have understood it. At this moment, our brothers from the general command of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee (CCRI-CG) of the EZLN are meeting to evaluate the situation and review the participation in the Dialog of San Andres. In my position as military chief of the regular, irregular and commando forces of the EZLN, in compliance with the instructions of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN , I have sent the relevant orders to all the Zapatista units to be prepared and alert for the decisions of our supreme command.
All this time, the Dialog of San Andres has been used by the government to gain time and to look for an opportunity to reinitiate the war. What was denounced again and again by our Zapatista delegates is now confirmed. There was no moment when the government had abandoned the idea of a military solution to the conflict. The process of dialog was only one more deception, just like those endured every day by our people. War arrives again from where it has always come, from the powerful.
We want to thank all the true media workers for their interest shown over these two years of frustrated peace attempts, and we want to ask them, also, that they be the vehicle for us to thank national and international civil society for the support they have given us for a dignified peace and against war. Thanks for everything to everybody. We expect a decisive effort from the COCOPA and the CONAI to retake the path of the political solution that the government has abandoned.
From the mountains of South East Mexico.
Subcommander Insurgent Marcos
Mexico, May 1996
EZLN communique on Elloriaga and Entzin, May 11 translated by: Tim, Lucho and Adam. For Committee in Solidarity With Chiapas and Mexico(EZLN)CSWCM, Melbourne Australia.