Executive Intelligence Review
This article appeared in the November 10, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

EZLN terrorists:
a foreign invasion
of Mexico

Name of group: Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

Headquarters and important fronts: Lacandón Jungle, Montes Azules National Park, and the Highlands of Chiapas, state of Chiapas, Mexico.

Founded: 1984, as the National Liberation Forces, with a background going back to 1969.

Locations of operations, areas active: Chiapas state (Lacandón Jungle, Chiapas Highlands, coast). Significant presence within and in the environs of two protected national parks: Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, and Lagunas de Montebello National Park. The EZLN has a "security corridor" between Chiapas and the British Commonwealth's Belize, according to the Mexican magazine Siempre. Also, it is said that "Sub-commander Marcos" has a safehouse in Belize. Urban safehouses are maintained in Mexico City and elsewhere.

Major terrorist actions:

December 1992: kidnapped collective farmer Mariano Encino, from Atamira township, who was tortured to death.

March 1993: kidnapped two military officers in San Isidro El Ocotal, Chiapas. Their remains were found in March 1993, with signs of having been mutilated by an electric chainsaw, burned, and buried in graves covered with lime.

Jan. 1, 1994: armed uprising, proclamation of the "Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle," in which they declared war on the Mexican Army and Executive branch. The municipal seats of San Cristóbal, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, and Altamirano, were seized by force.

January 1994: Bombing of the Plaza Universidad shopping center in Mexico City, in coordination with Procup (see below).

January 1994: dynamite attack, overturning electricity towers in Michoacán and Puebla.

January 1994: failed rocket attack on the Number One Military Camp in Mexico City.

September 1994: EZLN declared Yajalón and Simojovel as "autonomous" municipalities, and banned any presence of the national or state government (eliminate health and education services) and anything related to "the presence of the white man."

December 1994: EZLN returned to seize the municipal offices of Simojovel with armed commandos.

February 1995: Farmer Gustavo Mar Kanter is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by quartering.

Modus operandi: They operate anomymously, using masks to cover their faces, and they use bloody "Pol Pot" and "Shining Path"-style terrorist methods. They use sophisticated communications technology (radios, cellular phones, the Internet) to coordinate and publicize their actions. They put an emphasis on publicity coups with the media, for example, inviting journalists to conduct interviews in the Chiapas jungle. They carry out pre-Columbian noctural ceremonies (snail-like formations by torchlight), such as that at which the leadership baton was passed to "Marcos" after he drank blood from a cup.

Leaders' names and aliases: Samuel Ruiz, bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas (a.k.a. "The Mayan Prince"); Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente (a.k.a. "Sub-commander Marcos"); Fernando Yañez Muñoz (a.k.a. "Commander Germán"); Commander Tacho; Commander Ramona; Commander Trini.

The following were arrested by the Mexican authorities in EZLN safehouses in Mexico City, Mexico State, and at the EZLN arsenal in the town of Yanga, Veracruz: Javier Elorriaga; Fernando Domínguez Paredes; Gerardo López López; Gonzalo Sánchez Navarrete; Luis Sánchez Navarrete; José Martínez González; Martín Trujillo Barajas; Ricardo Hernández López; Hilario Martínez Hernández; Alvaro Castillo Granados; Patricia Jiménez Sánchez; Ofelia Martínez Guerrero; Ofelia Hernández Hernández; Brida Rodríguez Acosta; Rosa Hernández Hernández; and Hermelinda García Zepahua.

Groups allied nationally or internationally: The EZLN is paradigmatic of the new structure of international narco-terrorism: a small group of terrorists whose primary power base lies in the non-governmental organizations, national and international, mobilized to defend it. In February 1994, "Marcos" sent a letter to the NGOs which said: "We know that the so-called non-governmental organizations have become a key part of the movement for a dignified peace.... The fact that we have decided to trust our lives and our freedom to the NGOs is because we see in them the future to which we aspire, a future that will make not only war, but also armies, unnecessary."

Nationally: All the "civic" organizations mobilized to support the EZLN since January 1994 are closely interlinked. There are three "mother" organizations which operate on a national level: the National Center of Social Communication (Cencos) of José Alvarez Icaza; Eureka (Committee in Defense of Prisoners, Persecuted, Disappeared, and Political Exiles) of Rosario Ibarra de Piedra; and Convergence of Civil Organizations for Democracy, also known as the Civic Alliance. All of the nearly 200 organizations and personalities that the EZLN counts as its "advisers" in its dialogue with the federal government, come from these three groups.

"Convergence" (or Civic Alliance) was created at the request of the Mexican Academy of Human Rights, run by Sergio Aguayo Quezada, who receives funds from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It was formed as an umbrella for non-governmental organizations that created "Observation '94," supposedly to oversee the August 1994 Presidential elections. For that event, they received approximately $1 million from the U.S. State Department. On Aug. 27, 1995, the Civic Alliance held a "national consultation" for the EZLN, so that "civil society" could vote on whether the EZLN should become a political force or should continue as an armed group.

These organizations coordinated the EZLN's National Democratic Convention (CND) ("Aguascalientes Convention"), held Aug. 14-16, 1994, and its subsequent meetings, and also held the Mexican Caravan for All (which then established itself as an NGO), supposedly to "break the military encirclement" of the EZLN in Chiapas and to bring them food, clothing, and medicine.

They have also engendered the "All Rights for All Network" and the Human Rights Commission's "Voice of the Voiceless," which includes the most radical groups on the state or regional level which are not yet duly registered as NGOs.

Rosario Ibarra's Eureka and Alvarez Icaza's Cencos maintain relations with clandestine terrorist groups. Within the state-level organizations are individuals who appear on the steering committees of the EZLN's National Democratic Convention and/or in some other organizaton, be it human rights, indigenist, or environmentalist.

Other members of this EZLN network include: Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD); Workers Party (PT); Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT).

Of the 254 NGOs listed in the directorate of the Mexican Academy of Human Rights, approximately 90% make up the EZLN's support network. These include: Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (Mariclaire Acosta Urquidi); Indigenous Rights Center (Cedhiac), José Aviles Arriola; Mexican Institute for Communal Development (INDEC), Carlos Núñez Hurtado; Self-Managed Popular Research and Education, A.C., Mérida, Yucatán; Defense Committee for Indigenous Freedoms, Palenque, Chiapas (María Mayers).

Other major allied groups include: Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Father Pablo Romo Sedano); Independent Proletarian Movement (MPI), Ricardo Barco López; Ex Urban Route 100 Unified Autotransport Workers Union (Sutaur-100), Ricardo Barco López; Revolutionary Workers' Party-Clandestine Union of the People (Procup), Felipe Martínez Soriano; Popular Revolutionary Union (UPREZ); Emiliano Zapata Communal Landowners' Union (UCEZ); Party of the Poor (PDLP); Emiliano Zapata Front; ACNR and allied groups from Guerrero (see profile); National Education Workers' Coordinator (CNTE), Section 31; Neighborhood Assembly of Mexico City (Luis Campos); National Coordinator of Coffee Producers' Organizations (CNOC); El Barzón (both factions, one run by Juan José Quirinos and Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar, and the other by Maximiliano Barbosa); Union of Roof Tenants (CCAT-UCAI); Group of the 100 (Homero Aridjis, Ofelia Medina); The Peoples' Team (Carlos Heredia).

Internationally: The following are only some of the global networks activated in support of the EZLN:

São Paulo Forum; Revolutionary International Movement (RIM); Shining Path; ETA; Coordinator of Indigenous Nations and Organizations of the Continent (CONIC); Pax Christi; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; Inter-American Dialogue; U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); Greenpeace; Earth First!; Friends of the Earth; Native Forest Network; The Ecologist magazine (Teddy Goldsmith).

A network of Oscar Arnulfo Romero Solidarity Committees and centers, led by the Belgium-based Coordination of the European Network of O.A. Romero Committees, which operate in Berlin, Bonn, and Münster, Germany; Paris; Lucerne, Switzerland; Albacete, Aragon, Madrid, Valladolid, and Zaragoza, Spain.

Germany: Adveniat; Edition ID-Archiv Berlin Amsterdam; Editorial Nautilus, Hamburg; International Youth Social Service (IJGD), Berlin; Misereor; Solidarity with Latin America, Dusseldorf; Society for Endangered Peoples.

Belgium: Ecumenical Center for International Liaisons (COELI); Louvain-la-Nueva Tricontinental Center (CETRI); Center for Latin America (SAGO); Justice and Peace Commission of the Dutch-Belgian Province of the missionary fathers of Steyl (SVD); Mutual Aid and Fraternity (Catholic agency); Committee for Missionary Studies (CMI); Latin American Cooperation (Slacal); Latin American Christians Abroad (CLE); Catholic-National Worker Youth (KAJ); Pax Christi-Pis Flamenco; University Parish of the Dominican Fathers in Ghent; Priests and Clergymen for Justice and Peace; Support Groups for Human Rights in the Church; Center for Equal Opportunity and the Fight Against Racism; Uruguayan-Argentine Socio-Cultural Association; Argentine Cultural Circuit; Support Group for Justice and Peace in Guatemala; SEIN Youth Group.

Denmark: Solidarist Action, Copenhagen.

Spain: "Consulates" in rebellion of the Amado Avedaño "Transition Government" in Chiapas, Santander and Barcelona; Solidarity with the Zapatista Rebellion Collective, Barcelona; United Left; Spanish Communist Party; Spanish Association for Human Rights; Institute for Dynamic Personal Interaction; Faith and Secularism Institute; Solidarity Committee with Zaire and Central Africa; Open-Air Center of Popular Culture; Center for Social Volunteers; Intermon Zaragoza; Pignatelli Center, Zaragoza; Peace Research Seminar; Youth Mission; Verapaz Collective, Valladolid; Local Youth Council, Valladolid; Christian Popular Worker Youth; Christian Fraternity Council of the Ill and Disabled; Catholic Action Worker Brotherhood (HOAC); Nuns Collective in Worker and Marginal Neighborhoods; Christian Popular Communities; Little Sisters of the Assumption; Apostolic-Lay Cooperation; Hispanic American Christians of the South; Pilarica Parish Community; St. Thomas of Villanueva Parish; Consolata Youth-Missionary Group.

France: Trotskyist Workers Struggle (LO) party; Ecumenical Help Service (Cimade); Support Committee for Chiapas People in Struggle; Solidarity Committee with the Peoples of Central America (Cosopac); Mexico Today Study Group (GRAM); Zapata Association.

Ireland: El Salvador Awareness-Romero House; Irish Committee for Support of El Salvador; Viatores Christi-Latin American Committee.

Switzerland: Swiss Evangelical Churches Aid (HEKS); Caritas of Switzerland; Bern Declaration, Zurich; Third World Solidarity Association (Bern); Guatemala Network, Bern; Interteam, Lucerne; Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT); Lay Missionaries, Vilare sur Glane; Christian Solidarity with Central America (Csocri); World Christian Life Community.

Canada: International Center on Human Rights (Ed Broadbent); Canada-Mexico Solidarity Network; Eyes on Chiapas, British Columbia.

United States: Cultural Survival; Conversion for Reclaiming Earth in the Americas (CREA), Philip Wheaton; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Maryknoll; South and Meso American Indian Information Center (Saiic); American Indian Movement; Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (Cispes); National Lawyers Guild; New England Central American Solidarity Network; National Commission for Democracy in Mexico; Mexican Information Service for Social Justice, Washington, D.C.

Arizona: People for Peace Chiapas Coalition, Tucson; Tonatierra, Tempe.

California: Chiapas Support Committee, Berkeley; Global Exchange, San Francisco; Mexicans Without Borders, San Francisco; Mexico Information Project, Los Angeles; La Raza Rights Coalition, San Diego; San Diegans for Dignity, Democracy and Peace in Mexico; Zapatista Solidarity Coalition, Sacramento.

Colorado: Tierra Amarilla Youth Brigade, Denver.

Illinois: Chicago Coalition against Proposition 187; Interfaith Network for Peace with Justice and Dignity, DeKalb; Without Borders, Chicago.

Massachusetts (Boston): Community Church; Grassroots International; July 26th Coalition; Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Association; Latinos for Change; Tonatzin Committee in Support of the Native Peoples of Chiapas; Veterans for Peace-Smedly Butler Bridge.

Michigan: Organization in Solidarity with Central America, Detroit.

Minnesota: Committee in Minnesota in Solidarity with the Defense of Human Rights in Mexico, Minneapolis; Northern Front, Minneapolis; Taos Amistad, Taos.

Montana: Comrades in Mexico, Missoula.

New Mexico: Southwest Network for Environment and Economic Justice, Albuquerque.

New York: El Chacon, Binghamton; Peace Group, New York City; New York Resource Center; Oswego Interfaith Peace Group.

Oregon: Chiapas Urgent Call, Portland; MECHA, Eugene; Survival Center, Eugene.

Tennessee: Friends of the Zapatistas, Knoxville.

Texas: Austin Committee in Solidarity with Chiapas and Mexico; San Antonio Committee in Solidarity with the Mexican People; Houston Committee in Solidarity with the Mexican People; Paso del Norte Mexico Solidarity Committee, El Paso.

Virginia: Appalachian Women Empowered, Gate City; Exiled Mexicans for Democracy, Norfolk.

Vermont: Burlington Peace and Justice Center.

Washington: Coalition in Solidarity with Indigenous People of Chiapas, Olympia; Emergency Coalition against Repression in Mexico, Seattle; Media Island International, Olympia.

Wisconsin: Central America Solidarity Coalition, Racine.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: indigenist separatism synthesized in the British and French schools of "Action Anthropology," hostility to the nation-state and to Christianity. Premised on theology of liberation, which proposes indigenist autochthonous (pagan) churches, and on French existentialist structuralism.

Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente (a.k.a. "Marcos") is a graduate of the philosophy department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and carried out postgraduate studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the School of Mexican History and Anthropology. His university thesis was a diatribe against western culture and the family, in particular, against the figure of the father; Guillén bases his views on the theories of Marxist structuralist Louis Althusser, who, in an attack of psychological alienation, strangled his own wife; on Karl Marx; and on Michel Foucault, the existentialist philosopher and homosexual who died of AIDS in 1984.

About the EZLN's separatist ideology, "Marcos" explained in an interview with the Mexican dailiy La Jornada of Aug. 26, 1995: "Borders not only disappear, but are multiplying; and the armies not only do not dissolve into one larger one, but are splitting into many. There is the example of Yugoslavia, and the former Soviet Union and the Chechnya conflict.... In the case of the Mexican Army, it could be still more dramatic, because in Mexico one can distinguish totally different regions, as if they were nation-states."

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians: The EZLN is a synthetic creation of four main international agencies at the service of British intelligence:

  1. Action Anthropology, whose birthplace is the Sorbonne in France, which has deployed in Chiapas, together with Harvard University, for at least the past three decades;

  2. Existentialist theology of liberation, a product of the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, run in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, by schismatic Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, who has been building his own "autochthonous indigenist church" in Chiapas since 1974;

  3. The narco-terrorist São Paulo Forum; and

  4. The non-governmental organizations (see above; also see EIR, March 31, 1995, for detailed elaboration).

Number of cadre: 8,000 catechists in the networks of Bishop Ruiz, who operate as organizers and coordinators of the EZLN, which itself has between 700 and 2,000 armed cadre.

Training: North Korea; Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow; the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany); Cuba; Nicaragua (it is believed that Marcos received training there in the early 1980s). Also working with the EZLN are guerrilla elements from Guatemala (URNG) and El Salvador (FMLN), trained in their respective countries. Inside Mexico, training is carried out inside national parks and in "neutral zones," in particular Lagunas de Montebello National Park, Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, and Agua Azul Cascades National Park.

Known drug connections/involvement: In the government's National Drug Control Program (1989-94 and 1944-2000), Chiapas is indicated as an important drug-trafficking zone, including the border area with Guatemala and Belize—precisely the EZLN's area of operations.

Brig. Gen. Manuel Fernando Badillo Trueba, operations deputy for the Army Chief of Staff, declared that "there are indications that the cartels count on the support of the EZLN in Chiapas, since the drug lords operate in the armed group's area of influence." The drugs are thrown from small airplanes in flight over areas of Chiapas such as: La Unión, Laguna de Santa Clara, Laguna de Baquelte, Nuevo Guerrero, San Miguel, Pico de Oro, Benemérito de las Américas. The areas of greatest concentration of cocaine "air launches" are along the coasts of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and Belize, a member of the British Commonwealth.

Known arms suppliers/routes: Throughout 1995, arsenals belonging to the EZLN have been uncovered in Guatemala (URNG), Nicaragua (Sandinistas), El Salvador (FMLN), and Costa Rica (a group of Mexicans and Central Americans.) Since the 1980s, the URNG of Rigoberta Menchú has maintained cross-border communications with the EZLN through guerrilla groups and Guatemalan refugees living in Chiapas and Tabasco. Belize is considered another important source of weapons.

Known political supporters/advocates: Manuel Camacho Solís has played a special role in the defense and promotion of the EZLN (see PRD profile), in particular when he served as Chiapas "peace commissioner" (January-June 1994), in charge of government negotiations with the EZLN. Also, sectors of the Catholic Church allied to Commander Samuel Ruiz.

Known funding: Misereor, the German Catholic organization, has admitted to donating $7.5 million to Bishop Samuel Ruiz over the last ten years. The German Catholic organization Adveniat has also made contributions. Part of these funds are used to buy sophisticated radio communications equipment for the Ruiz diocese, which Ruiz's deacons have put at the service of the EZLN.

The Mexican government is investigating the accounts of the Federal District during Camacho Solís's regency, where it is suspected that "transfers of funds" to the EZLN, through the former transport union Sutaur-100, were carried out.

The National Coordinator of Coffee Producers' Organizations contribute percentages of their coffee exports as "donations," through priests allied to Bishop Ruiz. The coffee is exported to Japan, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, and the United States, at a yearly value of some $7 million.

The network of national and international NGOs has provided food and other material support, especially through the so-called Caravans. Of special importance in this is the International Red Cross, which, according to intercepted radio communications, provides medicines and food directly to the EZLN.

Thumbnail historical profile: The EZLN stems from the National Liberation Forces (FLN), formed in the early 1980s on the basis of the remnants of various guerrilla and urban terrorist organizations which operated in Mexico during the 1960s and 1970s: Revolutionary Action Movement (MAR); Zapatista Urban Front (FAZ); Revolutionary Student Front (FER); Lacandón Movement of Chiapas; Party of the Poor (PDLP) of Guerrero, led by Lucio Cabañas; Guerrero Civic Action, led by Genaro Vázquez Rojas; and the 23rd of September Communist League.

After the FLN were annihilated by the Mexican federal security forces of the Luis Echeverría government (1970-76), the survivors were exiled by the government to countries like Cuba, the Soviet Union (Patrice Lumumba University), East Germany, and North Korea. During the José López Portillo government (1976-82), an amnesty was passed allowing the guerrillas to return to the country and regroup.

One of these is the so-called Torreón Group, which as of 1974 formed several peasant organizations in Chiapas, such as OPEZ, Anciez, and Peasant Torch. Out of these came the EZLN. Peasant Torch received extensive political and material support during the Carlos Salinas de Gortari government (1988-94), in particular from the President's brother Raúl Salinas, and from the official social welfare organization which he controlled, Pronasol.

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