Panel talks about Mexican rebel group

by Ranjit Ahluwalia | 5/17/94 5:00am

The Chiapas rebellion in Mexico was the theme of a panel discussion yesterday.

The discussion, titled "The Chiapas Rebellion and the Political Crisis in Mexico," was held in 3 Rockefeller.

The panelists included a political scientist, a Dartmouth professor, and two professors from other institutions.

Professor John Coatsworth from Harvard University spoke about the implications of the Chiapas rebellion on Mexican politics.

The most far-reaching implication of the rebellion, he said, is that the present administration cannot continue with its economic reforms without moving towards democratization and social equality.

Political scientist Neal Harvey stressed that the Chiapas rebellion is symptomatic of a larger rural crisis in Mexico.

According to Harvey, the chief reason for the rebellion stems from the reforms of Article 27 of the Mexican constitution, which left thousands of young Natives without land.

The rebellion is not a breakaway movement, he said. The rebels simply want to change the political system and seek greater representation.

Professor June Nash of the City University of New York discussed the history of the Mayas and the Chiapas region. The fact that one-third of the rebels are women make them very different from other conventional rebel groups, she said.

Anthropology Professor John Watanabe compared the rebellion in Mexico to that in Guatemala. He stressed that the Zapatista, the Mexican rebel group, is not an imported rebellion -- the pragmatic ideology reflected in their demands makes them very different form other Latin American guerrilla groups.

The panel discussion, chaired by History Professor Marysa Navarro, was held in front of a large and appreciative audience.

The discussion, which was sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean studies and history departments, as well as the Dickey Endowment for International Understanding, was followed by a question and answer session.

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