Created: 1/21/1994

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Mexico: Worries About More Attacks

The government on Januaryaid Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) rebels were planning to attack several towns in Chiapas state, according to press repels. Manuel Camacbo, President Salinas's special comrrussrooer.


broadcast another appeal for forjnveneM and peace, audi group ofpoint proposal calling for revisioo of cruBioaland prt*xeding5 against Indians, support for the oariooaJ huraa= rights coromjssion. and review and stnMLaiJinuJg

Labor czar Fidel Velazquez oo Januaryxpressed reservationsamnesty proposal, wggesting thai "eradication" of the rebels wasand blamed leftist PRL> DJCiidcnroai candjoaic Cnaiihifctnoc CinJeiiainVbe added thai his

Ubor confedsratior. would (UpponOBgKSS appiuvrd it

Comment: The EZLN's Lack of response to the govenmnent's call for laving down arms as part of tbe amnesty, and its failure to meet face-to-face with government represeriuuvcs, may be behind fears of renewed attacks. Despite the presence of at0 troops in the area, few rebels have been captured; the EZLNhreat to small towns with little or no army prr^ence. Tbe non-Indian leadership of the EZLN probably has no real interestegotiated resolution to local proWems and may be using the process to enhance its stature with the media and sympathetic political groups in pursuitore ambitious ano-govemment agenda.

(For related lnforrruuoo. see Analysis)

Latin America: Economic CounterrefonTiation?

The resounding victory of Eduardo Frd in Chile's presidential balloting last December suggests the compatibility of economic reform and electoral success. But the Chiapas uprising in Mexico and riots by Argentineworkers raise the question whether economic policies that over the short end even medium term provide few benefits to the poor are sustainable.

Mexicos and Chiles of the hemisphere have made tree-marticieeis of more ind more members of the' political and economic elites, but reform programs that impose widespread dislocation and ecoDomjc suffering are understandably unpopular in most countries. Poor management, uisensitive or unskilled leadership, and corrupt ton compound the popular frustration and dissatisfacooo evident io recent election returns.

Id Venezuela me bumbling implementation of Carlos Andres Perez's austerity program cleared tbe way for Rafaellassic statist, to win last December's presidential contest Fujimori's victory in Peru's November cxjniijwtionalwas much closer than expected, in partof economic reforms that, howeverin macroeconomic terras, have yielded few. benefits for the poorest. In Brazil the efforts of would-be relotiriers0 have helpedleftist labor leader Luis Inacio Luis det the odds-on favorite in Novembers presidential contest.

Part of Ibe motivation of ibe failed self-coup of former Guatemalan President Serrano wasover resistance to economic reform measures. In Nicaragua, Sinclinista opposition has continued to hinder privatization and reduction of tbe

Warning bells

in some ways the Chiapas uprising and the mid-December violence by Argentine provincial work-era who had not been paid in three months fit the anil-reform syndrome and will be widely seen in that light. But both incidents arose from local

data hasrogressiveot

popularity ratings over his

cumstances rather manwell of opposition to reform in the countryhole.

growm m

presidency, reflecting perceived success of hisprogram. Opposition electoral gains have gone mostly to tbe conservative PAN. which has supported the economic reform and NAFTA. The campaign of populist opposition candidatewho represents traditional statist ecoootnic thought, was languishing, and Salinas's handpicked successor has beenirtual shoo-in ia Ibe August election.

The situation in Argentina isenuinely popular president, who ranks high amongreform practitioners, is suddenly raced with violent labor protest thai critics trace to hispolicies. Unlike9 riots that.leftdead in Venezuela's capital, these protests took place in Santiago del Estero, an isolated,'ex-trcmely poor, rural area, and they are not tbe death knell of Menems economic liberalization efforts. They are producing sober reflection, however.

What the Chiapas and Santiago del Estero events highlight is thai even where reform has beenits benefits are unevenly distributed, and sectors thai have previously lagged may findeven further behind. This offers fertile ground for politicians seeking to slow or reverse economic restrucniring.

CountBrroform vs. accommodation

Critics who view the pn*!erns as systemic argue forull-fledged return to statin economic

ways or for imposing lighter controls to limitto continued pursuit of reforrns, perhaps in the manner oframatici ujj io cither sense is unlikely. Economic retreat promises near certain failure, and not only has Fu-jimori notrend setter but Peru's own fortunes demonstrate how dirTicult it can become for those who abandon tbe cktoocratic road inLatin America-More likelyc<uuerrefornunon is ad hoc accommodation by governments trying to sustain market reforms while mcreasirigty forced totheir "social debt" and, ummately. to win open elections. Mexico's "'solidarity" program to provide direct funds for local civic projects and Chile's success at moderately increasing socialwhile cconolliag popular expecutions offer modest examples of what might be attempted.

ficicacy and transj.

The riotingad been paidalaries for three months, though their bosses had continued tomcothly salaries

No bells at iff

Tbe abiding commdrum is Brazil, whoseand corrupt political leadership appeanto driving the countryrue economic counterreformation at the hands of leftist labor leader LuJa. Jt may take another disastrous bout of stahsm under Lula to shock Brazilians into serious efforts at political and economic modernization.

Original document.

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