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  • Adelfo Regino Montes voting during the July 1 general elections in Alotepec, Oaxaca.

    Adelfo Regino Montes voting during the July 1 general elections in Alotepec, Oaxaca. | Photo: @DEELAYUUK

Published 8 July 2018

The agreements were reached between the government and the Zapatistas in 1996 but were never implemented.

The future administration of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will promote a constitutional reform to recognize and implement Indigenous rights and finally respect the San Andres Agreements signed by the government and the National Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN) in 1996.

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The announcement was made by the lawyer and Indigenous rights defender Adelfo Regino Montes, who was appointed by AMLO as the head of the Indigenous affairs office.

The overall plan is aimed at respecting the rights of Indigenous people of Mexico and increasing their participation in public policies. It includes:

1. Development of a comprehensive regional development plan.

2. Creation of a new organism to look after Indigenous issues.

3. Transversal compliance of rights.

4. New constitutional reform.

Adelfo Regino, an Indigenous Mixe, served as Secretary of Indigenous Affairs in Oaxaca from 2010 to 2016, when he resigned in protest due to the violent reaction of the state's government towards the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) in Nochixtlan, San Pablo Huitzo and Oaxaca City.

He was appointed by Lopez Obrador to head a new institution to look after Indigenous rights, replacing the obsolete National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous People, which the president-elect says “doesn't help the people at all.”

The new office will be part of the Social Development Ministry, to be headquartered in Oaxaca in an effort to decentralize the federal government.

The EZLN has not responded to the latest developments. However, in a statement issued on Friday and signed by the subcomanders Galeano and Moises, the Zapatistas declared they don't support AMLO.

"They might change the overseer, the butlers and the foremen, but the owner is the same... at least the current illusion soothes that history of failures to which the foreseen disappointment will be added," it says.

The San Andres Agreements are a set of commitments and proposals reached between the federal government and the EZLN in 1996, in order to restructure the relationship between the Indigenous peoples of Mexico, society in general and the state.

The joint proposals main objective was to end the asymmetrical relationship between the government and the Indigenous people, as well as ending inequality, discrimination, poverty, exploitation and political exclusion.

A new legal framework was proposed to constitutionally recognize the indigenous peoples' rights not only individually, but the collective rights of the peoples, whether they are Tzeltal, Purepecha, Nahua, Wixarika, Raramuri, Ñuu Savi, or any other.

The proposals included the national recognition of their own political traditional organizations, to their autonomy, to choose their own authorities and ways of justice, to find their own way to organize work and economy, to guarantee their right to their own culture and access to state's justice, to respect their traditional knowledge and protect Indigenous migrants.

The new relationship should be based on autonomy, participation, pluralism, integrality and sustainability. They were signed in San Andres Larrainzar after four months of negotiations and two years after the Zapatista uprising in 1994.

However, the government of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon later proposed a different reform instead, arguing the original agreements threatened the country's integrity, failing to recognize the negotiations. The EZLN rejected the new proposal and the process was halted.

In 2000 and shortly after being sworn in, Vicente Fox also proposed a new law based on the San Andres Agreements with the important exemption that it didn't recognize the right to autonomy and self-determination of the Indigenous peoples, which was also rejected by the EZLN.


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