Tonight: Cloudy, low
chance of rain, high 40.
One hundredafour years of editorial freedom
April 10, 1995
voli''CV, No. a
in a rich land
Editor's note: The southeastern Mexican state of
hiapas has been in the news recently after a rebel group
known as the Zapatistas began sparring with the Mexican
government. Robyn Denson, a University student, spent
three weeks in the region in December. This is the first of
a three-part series on the region, the people and the
By Robyn Denson
Special to the Daily
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico - The
'heels spun out as the truck swung around the bend,
scrambling to catch hold in the loose gravel. The tailgate
crashed open as we plunged through ruts, and for a moment
one of the back wheels slid off the edge of the cliff. We
grabbed for the guard rails and slammed against them as the
wheels found a momentary hold and the truck lurched
forward, barreling further up into the Chiapan mountains.
Like the majority of the roads in this southeastern
Mexican state, this one was not fit for vehicle travel. The
erosion-gutted passages are only accommodating to the
ands of coffee workers who walk five to eight hours a day
unsporting heavy sacks of beans to and from the valley.
The few paved highways only connect the larger pueblos,
government hydroelectric plants and oil-drilling areas.
Chiapas has more in common with third-world Guate-
mala, its southern
neighbor, than to
lauded by busi-
ness groups as a
and of opportu-
ty and by tour-
ists as a tropical A special three-part series
The mountainous jungles of Chiapas wake with the
sun, pushing up through quilted fog, and create a horizon
rivaled only in its majesty by the purple skyline flirting
with the jagged peaks. Monkeys and parrots scream warn-
ings from .the treetops as jaguars and pumas lurk in the
underbrush. White waters crash through the forest land-
scape, leaping over cliffs and surging into the valleys below.
Highland Chiapas is incomparable in natural beauty
and, in stark contrast to the primarily dry, sparse land-
scape of greater Mexico, is blessed with an incredible
wealth of natural resources.
In addition to beef, lumber and a wide array of agricul-
tural products, Mexico draws 55 percent of its hydroelec-
tric power and much of its national oil reserves from
Chiapas. Despite its natural riches, however, Chiapas is
one of the poorest states in Mexico. The grave poverty of
to 3 inches of
*y Michelle Lee Thompson
Daily Staff Reporter
On April mornings, most University students wake up
to sunshine or showers - not three inches of snow.
But yesterday morning, that was exactly the case.
Snow and chilly temperatures greeted students as they
tramped around campus.
Some awoke earlier than others - including South
Quad residents, who were subjected to two fire drills early
Sunday morning, at about 4 and 6 a.m. During the first
*rill, the weather was cold, residents said, but there was no
snow on the ground.
But by 6 a.m., "Barely anyone went out for (the fire
drill)," said Nicole Rietscha, LSA first-year student and
Gomberg House resident. "Everyone was saying how the
(resident advisers) went around and people hid from
dead after 2
The Washington Post
KFAR DAROM, Gaza Strip - Palestinian suicide
bombers drove vehicles packed with explosives into a bus
and a military jeep in two separate attacks yesterday near
Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Six Israelis died and
at least 46 people were wounded, most of them soldiers.
Islamic Jihad, a militant group based in Damascus,
claimed responsibility for the attack on the bus at this
small settlement 10 miles south of Gaza City. The Islamic
Resistance Movement, Hamas, said it launched the other
assault, at a crossroads near the settlement of Netzarim.
The attack here demonstrated a high level of tactical
proficiency by the militant opponents of peace negotia-
tions with Israel. Israeli officials said that competence,
combined with their willingness to die, has made the
suicide bombers very difficult to stop.
The two militant groups have intensified their terror
attacks in the 19 months since Israel and the Palestine
Liberation Organization signed a limited peace accord on
the White House lawn. The mounting Israeli death toll,
which now stands at 123, has shaken public confidence in
the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
several times brought the self-rule talks close to collapse.
Rabin flew here by helicopter even before army sappers
had finished detonating the car bomb's unexploded re-
mains. He said he "won't let the Hamas and the Jihad hurt
the peace process" by breaking off talks with Yasser
Arafat, chairman of the limited self-rule authority, as the
Israeli opposition demanded again yesterday.
Yesterday's was the first large-scale attack since the
double suicide bombing at the Beit Lid junction northeast of
Tel Aviv that killed 21 Israelis in January. Palestinian police
have reported thwarting other attempts, although they have
not provided details, and Israeli border guards intercepted a
truck full of explosives on its way to Beersheba last month.
Outside this settlement yesterday, the suicide bomber
identified by Islamic Jihad as Khaled Khatib, 22, idled the
engine of a blue van as he waited for a bus packed with
soldiers returning to bases from weekend leave, together
with a few civilian passengers.
The spot Khatib chose is a dip in the road where it sinks
slightly into a dry riverbed. When the bus slowed to
negotiate the depression, Khatib raced his van alongside
- some accounts said he rammed the bus - and deto-
nated his charge, killing six bus passengers and wounding
An indigenous woman tends to her wares as a Mexican army troop transport rolls by outside Larrainzar, Chiapas.
the people continues to marginalize their position in Mexico.
"Chiapas is rich by the grace of mother Maria, but poor
by the work of the government," said an agitated taxi
driver somewhere on the road toOcosingo, an indigenous
pueblo outside of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Fruits and vegetables from corn and beans to avocados
and bananas thrive on mountainside plots hidden by the
surrounding jungle. These plots, together with the collec-
tion of wooden huts they surround, characterize tradi-
tional Chiapaneco pueblos. Despite the bounty of their
gardens, however, families having as many as 11 or 12
children are minimally sustained by subsistence agricul-
ture. When possible, the family diversifies its economic
base by practicing basic animal husbandry or by selling
artistry to tourists in the cities.
While much of Mexico has entered the 20th century,
the small indigenous pueblos have remained relatively
isolated from the modern world. Thirty percent of the
people do not have electricity or clean water. although
Coca-Cola and Pepsi have managed to establish them-
selves in even the most remote corners of the jungle. In
some areas, soda pop is so exotic it is used in religious
ritual. In most areas, the cheaper pop has become a
substitute for milk. The indigenous children rarely have
the opportunity to attend school, and of those that do, few
make it past elementary levels of education.
"Seventy-five percent of the population of Chiapas is
indigenous, most of them are illiterate and 62 percent don't
even speak Spanish," said a young businessman and Catholic
youth charity member from the Northern Yucatan Peninsula.
"There are over 20 different languages in Chiapas, which
makes organization between groups difficult and makes it
easy for the government to exploit the land and cheep labor
while ignoring the real needs of the people."
The government may be accused of ignoring the people,
but large, private landowners in Chiapas have preyed
upon the peasants by expanding their coffee plantations
and cattle ranches into traditional indigenous lands.
Faced with decreasing economic options as the prices
for their crops fall and the prices for consumer items rise
with the exploding inflation, the peasants have few choices
for survival but to sell their lands to the growing planta-
tions and ranches.
Many peasant families remain to work for the new
landowners, but 60 percent earn the minimum wage of
$4.00 a day.
Squatter settlements populated by displaced protesting
peasant farmers have sprung up on many of the ranches.
"They stole our land," said one resident of a squatter
settlement on a ranch an hour outside of the indigenous
pueblo of Margaritas. "They made it so we couldn't live
anymore selling our crops and we had to sell our land to
live. Now we have nothing, the money is gone and we
have nowhere to go."
The squatter settlements are growing in number, and
See CHIAPAS, Page 2
The evolving LSA race and
ethnicity requirement will be scruti-
nized once again tonight in a public
forum hosted by the LSA Student
A panel including Assistant LSA
Dean David Schoem, philosopy Asso-
ciate Prof. Elizabeth Anderson and as-
sociate English chair Stephen Sumida
will discuss with the public the changes
to the requirement recently proposed by
the LSA Executive Committee, and ac-
cept suggestions and comments.
The committee has been review-
ing the requirement since January
Organizers said the forum, to be
held at 7 p.m. in the Michigan Union's
Wolverine Room, is intended to fos-
ter open discussion on the issue.
The event is the second in the
LSA-SG's town meeting series.
Former Rep. James Kovacs, who had
worked on the issue, will moderate.
LSA-SG Rep. Brittany Schultz en-
couraged students to contribute to the
R&E requirement's evolution. "It'syour
opportunity to voice your concerns di-
rectly with the administration. Take
advantage of it," she said.
ents hid in stair-
wells or their
rooms during the
drills, about 200
dents walked out
the doors of
South Quad to a
Ihad to have
because it was
sleeting ice right
into my face."
- Erica Gebstadt
Dances with ribbons
Inteflex sophomore Ellen Song performs a traditional ribbon dance at the second-annual Chinese Culture Festival in the Michigan
Union Ballroom yesterday afternoon. Song has taught dancing for six years and performs for various organizations in the community.
and freezing temperatures.
I* According to the National Weather Service, yesterday's
average temperature of 30 degrees was not nearly as cold
as the record of 19 degrees on April 9, 1985. However,
April in Michigan has often been much warmer, as indi-
cated by 1931's record high of 78. The normal tempera-
ture is 45 degrees.
After first 100 days, fate of 'Contract' items uncertain
WASHINGTON (AP) - One of the
many lingering mysteries surrounding
Congress centers on whether majority
already approved $188 billion in tax cuts
for families and businesses, Clinton wants
a $64 billion cut, and the Senate is likely to
publicans piece together a plan, hoping they
fall on their faces, before joining in the bud-
get process? And does he sign a GOP pack-
that produce deficit reduction, "and we
could end up with a budget that everybody
is reasonably satisfied with."