Conflict in Chiapas remains at stubborn stalemate
Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EST (0030 GMT)
From Correspondent Harris Whitbeck
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (CNN) -- Until representatives of Mexico's Zapatista rebel army and government negotiators sat down last week, it had been two years since they last met face-to-face.
But the much-touted meeting dashed any new hopes of a peaceful solution to the 4-year-old Chiapas conflict.
"The Zapatistas are closed to the idea of a dialogue, and the government has not met any conditions set by the rebels two years ago," says Mexican political analyst Miguel Angel Granados.
Although few shots have been fired since the Zapatistas staged a bloody uprising on New Year's Day in 1994, the Chiapas conflict continues to be a thorn in the side of Mexico's government.
The Zapatistas are demanding wide-ranging changes in government policies toward the Mayan Indian communities in Chiapas, including more land, more autonomy and more representation in the federal government.
"We cannot speak of a dialogue or a peaceful solution to the conflict until the government shows it is willing to solve the problems the Indian communities face," says Commander Tacho, a rebel leader.
The government says it is already making changes in its policies in Chiapas and insists the Zapatistas are being too inflexible.
The rebels are continuing with their efforts to build public support for their cause. After their failed talks with government negotiators, they held a meeting with 3,000 members of pacifist groups and opposition political parties.
But as a whole, interest in the Chiapas problem seems to be waning. Most Mexicans seem to feel that the conflict has dragged on for too long and that it is not the most urgent problem the country faces today.
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