Supporters of indigenous rights walked from UNM to downtown Albuquerque Tuesday to present the Mexican Consulate with nine pages of signatures supporting the Zapatista movement.
The event was scheduled to coincide with a march being made by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The group's leader, Subcommander Marcos, is using the 12-state journey to prove the Zapatista movement still has the popular support it did in 1994, when the rebels attacked an army base and declared war on the Mexican government in defense of indigenous people's rights.
"When the Zapatistas decided to march to Mexico City, we wanted to get involved on this side of the border in Albuquerque to get some awareness," said Evan Blackstone, communication and event director of the Albuquerque march.
Blackstone said the Zapatista Army of National Liberation is marching to Mexico City in hopes of encouraging the Mexican government to implement the Cocopa Law, also known as the San Andres Accords.
The law, originally signed by the Zapatistas and Mexican government in 1996, was supposed to recognize indigenous people as full citizens. However, Blackstone said the law was never reinforced and never made a difference in the lives of the people it was supposed to help.
The election of Mexican President Vicente Fox has brought the possibility of renegotiations for the liberation army and the Mexican government, Blackstone said.
"The march is not only for us but for all the people who are the color of the Earth," Martha Dominguez said to a group of 30 people in front of the bookstore standing in a circle before the march began.
Dominguez, now a resident of Albuquerque, is a Maya-Lenca originally from Honduras. She did not participate in the march because she spent the day preparing to travel to Mexico. After arriving in Mexico later today, she said she will meet with her friends from Chiapas to see about ways to make people aware of the needs of indigenous people.
Dominguez said she hopes to return to Albuquerque with a message that will promote change for the treatment of people everywhere.
"I think white America needs to listen. They don't understand they are maintaining the same policies that are killing people all over the world with their militant policies," she said.
Though Dominguez could not make the march, about 30 other protesters walked down Central Avenue, holding signs and flags that read: "No peace" or "No justice."
Albuquerque resident Diane Daley said she marched because she wanted to make people aware of the Zapatista issue and to avoid another Holocaust.
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After Daley and other protesters made their way through stoplights and crosswalks, they arrived at the Mexican Consulate, 400 Gold Ave.
Regular business hours at the consulate are from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. When the protesters arrived at 1:15 p.m., the glass-door to the consulate was locked and a small sign taped to the window said the consulate would be closed at noon.
Eventually, five protestors were allowed into the building, to present the list of signatures to Jaime Paz y Puente, Consul of Mexico. While they met with Paz y Puente, the other protestors and people who wanted to do business at the consul stood outside in the rain and wind and waited.
Paz y Puente said he locked the doors so he could focus on what the protestors had to say.
"I'm open to work with the representatives of their choice," he said. "My job is to provide service to the Albuquerque community."
He said he will see to it that the signatures get to Mexico City.
"That's all I can do," he said.