MEXICO CITY – A Mexican congressional commission issued a statement Monday “categorically” rejecting any attempt to blame the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, for last year’s kidnapping of former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos.
Known as Cocopa, the Commission of Concord and Pacification was created in March 1995 to mediate between the government and the Zapatistas, who mounted a brief uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in January 1994.
In a communique published by capital daily La Jornada, Cocopa chair Jose Narro demanded an “exhaustive investigation” of a message that appeared over the weekend purporting to claim responsibility for the Fernandez de Cevallos kidnapping on behalf of the EZLN.
The Chiapas state government likewise dismissed the idea of Zapatista involvement in the abduction.
“If the EZLN has sent a message to the country in these times of violence, it has been that of prudence, peace and political responsibility,” Chiapas Gov. Juan Sabines said on Twitter.
The claim of responsibility sent Saturday to Efe and other media outlets was signed by “El Guerrero Balam,” who claims to be a “loyal member of the EZLN insurgent forces” and an associate of a group itself the Global Transformation Network.
The signer describes himself as a subordinate of Zapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos and calls Fernandez de Cevallos, the 1994 presidential candidate of the now-governing rightist National Action Party, or PAN, “one of the main enemies” of EZLN efforts to secure autonomy for indigenous peoples.
Cocopa chairman Narro said he suspects Saturday’s message was the work of people seeking to prepare the ground for “a repressive escalation against the EZLN.”
He noted that the Zapatistas, who have eschewed violence since their initial rebellion 17 years ago, now devote their energies to “organization and community work” in Chiapas, where the EZLN Good Government Boards have become a standard “in the matter of collective work and communitarian social accomplishments.”
The Web site Enlace Zapatista (Zapatista Connection), operated by the EZLN and its allies, denied any involvement in the Fernandez de Cevallos case and said that kidnappings are contrary to the group’s principles.
Fernandez de Cevallos, who disappeared May 14 from his La Cabaña ranch near San Clemente, in the central Mexican state of Queretaro, was released last month after his family paid a $30 million ransom.
The captors of the 69-year-old politician sent a handful of e-mails to Mexican media outlets in which they referred to themselves as the “Misteriosos Desaparecedores” (Mysterious Disappearers), although in their last message they called themselves the Global Transformation Network, one of the affiliations claimed by El Guerrero Balam.
In comments after his release, Fernandez de Cevallos said both political and financial factors were involved in his kidnapping.
“They considered me a man who was an enemy of their causes,” he told Radioformula.
Fernandez de Cevallos has been one of the most powerful figures in the PAN and Mexican politics in the past two decades.
Known for his fiery oratory, “Boss Diego” was a member of the lower house of Congress from 1991 to 1994 and a senator from 2000 to 2006.
He also runs a successful law firm that has represented both Mexico’s blue-chip corporations and reputed drug kingpins. EFE