|Mexico||INDIGENOUS PRIESTS PETITION GOVERNMENT|
About 100 Indian priests meeting in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca have urged the government to make the legal changes needed to secure peace in the conflict-ridden southern state of Chiapas. The meeting also called for "the eradication of all efforts to marginalise indigenous populations".
The Tablet reports that the priests wanted the implementation of a 1996 agreement signed in San Andres Larrainzar between the federal authorities and the indigenous Zapatista Liberation Army, whose rebellion began in north-eastern Chiapas in 1994.
The federal government later refused to make the agreed changes which would have given Indian communities greater control over land and culture. Bishop Felipe Aguirre Franco of Tuxtla Gutierrez in western Chiapas told the priests on 18 May that "the noble struggle for justice" should never lead to confrontation, but rather to the "evangelical principles of collaboration and dialogue". He added: "Violence and hatred are pernicious seeds that produce nothing except hatred and violence."
Tablet 1:49pm 8/6/99