Original Cocopa Law resubmitted to Congress
Original Cocopa Law resubmitted to Congress
Six years and two days after the San Andres Accords were signed, 168 deputies representing all the political parties, except for the PAN, once again presented the program known as the Cocopa Law on indigenous rights and culture in San Lazaro, in order to repair the error of having approved a reform last year which did not meet the demands of the Indian peoples.
In the Green Room of the Chamber of Deputies, which ended up not having enough room for the dozens of social organizations, indigenous groups, intellectuals and legislators, PRI Jaime Martinez Veloz recalled that the proposal is the same one that the Commission of Concordance and Peace drew up based on the accords signed between the EZLN and the federal government, which, he said, is the expression of a successful negotiation in Mexico.
He felt that the report that was approved in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, from the proposal approved by the Cocopa and presented by President Fox, far from achieving the objectives that it was based upon, caused the immediate suspension of dialogue and negotiation with the Zapatista Army. In addition, when the decree was published, instead of its representing progress in national conciliation, it caused discontent in indigenous communities.
In addition, Nobel prizewinner, Rigoberta Menchu emphasized that it was a disastrous law that does not resolve indigenous problems, and she urged the legislators to re-present it.
Among the first speakers, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova stated that Congress credibility had been damaged when the indigenous march was unable to arouse its political support for the Cocopa project. Consequently, and given the recent experience that resulted in the indigenous counter-reform, we are in favor of critical support for this new step. We have not forgotten that the composition of the Congress is the same as the one that betrayed the hope that peace was near.
He read a document signed by various individuals who were close to the conflict and peace negotiations, and, in the name of this collective, he said that the legislators had within their grasp an opportunity to repair errors. He did not, however, discount the possibility that yesterdays event â€œ in which the Cocopa proposal was delivered to officials of the Chambers â€œ would be only one more act of goodwill.
At this moment in time we find ourselves with a very serious lack of credibility in the Executive, in the Congress, and, if the Judiciary manages to rule against the rights of the Indian peoples, we are going to end up without the three branches. This will threaten stability and peace in the Republic. It is not an exaggeration. Its elementary logic that if the Judicial branch loses its credibility, the situation in the country, along with the economic crisis and the world crisis, is going to be extremely grave, he warned.
GonzÃƒ¡lez Casanova called on Congress to rectify a law that took away all the rights of the Indian peoples. It is going to be impossible for the Congress to regain their credibility if they are not capable of approving the rights of the Indian peoples.
Jose Manuel del Virgen, from Convergence for Democracy, asked that it be the Judicial branch itself which resolves an issue which neither the laws nor politics have been able to resolve.
Another collective - which included individuals such as Gonzalez Casanova himself, Elena Poniatowska, Luis Villoro and Carlos Monsivais, among many other intellectuals, writers, musicians, researchers, cartoonists, actors, photographers, academics as well as union and human rights groups and associations - asserted that almost a year after the voice of the Indians had been heard in Congress, more than half the majority indigenous municipalities had submitted constitutional objections.
In a few more days the Judicial branch will speak on the subject. Today the Legislative branch, with the presentation of the Cocopa Law, has an opportunity to make up fort heir error. We welcome the initiative by the plural group of deputies, and we call on the Congress of the Union for its approval, as the best path for building and recognizing a more just, diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic Mexico. As the best path for truly recognizing the rights of the Indian peoples, the document noted.
Later, indigenous groups from Guerrero, Guanajuato, the state of Mexico, Tabasco and Oaxaca, in addition to communities from the Huasteca region, presented their positions. They rejected the law that was approved last year, and they called for a new constitutional reform.
We came to say that we are demanding the fulfillment of the San Andres Accords. We came to express our gratitude for this effort by the deputies, and we came to reject those legislators who betrayed the Cocopa Law and created the ËœBartlett Law, the ËœFernandez de Cevallos Law, and the Jesus Ortega Law. We indigenous reject them at the national level. Fifteen minutes have already gone by, 15 months are gone. How long do we have to wait? they insisted.
The indigenous communities explained that the reform which was approved last year did not fulfill their demands. They asked the Judicial branch to favorably resolve the objections filed by the indigenous councils, in accordance with demands for recognition. We do not want a special law, but principles of legal equity in accordance with our indigenous identity, they emphasized.
Rigoberta Menchu said that presenting the Cocopa proposal again is an opportunity, not just for the indigenous peoples, but for all Mexicans, to try to resolve a vacuum that was created by the approved law. She said the law was unconstitutional and not viable in many places in Mexico, and that its enforcement is impossible in many states.
The Indians struggle is heroic, but also historic. Our peoples have been struggling for their society, for their culture, for thousands of years. May they not abandon the struggle for their dignity, may they continue forward, may they defend their lands, may they recover their cultural values, their faith in life, nature, the planet. May they defend their lands and maintain unity among their leaders, she exhorted.
The Nobel prizewinner asked that the laws not be colonial or racist, but rather allow a new relationship among the indigenous peoples. She demanded that a common agenda be drawn up in which the indigenous would participate directly in defining their future. If there is a disastrous law, it should be reformed, this is an important step. We are cherishing a new hope, she said.
Bernardo de la Garza, coordinator of the Greens party, said that if there is no peace in Mexico today, it is because the way to create justice has not been found. He admitted that it was a mistake to celebrate the arrival of the indigenous at the Chamber of Deputies, as if that were the final step.
Marta Batres, PRD coordinator, stated that in order to revitalize the institutions, there should be rectification, if there is an error, and the indigenous law should be rectified by the Chamber of Deputies. He said that it is indeed a difficult undertaking, because consensus must be created within the Congress and with society. Our obligation is to not surrender, to keep up the political and social initiative.
We have to convince a large number of legislators. More than 50 deputies voted against the law. Today 160 have signed this initiative. During the next session, the central issue is State reform, but we cannot conceptualize it without its transformation into a multi-ethnic State. We shall not conceive of a reform that does not include the issue of indigenous law among its central elements, he warned.