By Curtis Cook, Juan Lindau
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Extra resources for Aboriginal Rights and Self-Government. The Canadian and Mexican Experience in North American Perspective
However, despite seeming agreement on these points, the San Andres Accords had still not been implemented several years later. Although the accords were scheduled to be submitted to the Mexican Congress "sometime after March 1996," the Mexican government had not presented them for ratification several years later. Simultaneously, the talks on democracy and justice stagnated. In August 1996 the Zapatistas announced their unwillingness to engage in further negotiations until five conditions were fulfilled: liberation of Zapatista prisoners, designation of a government negotiating team with decision-making capacity, activation of the Implementation and Verification Commission (COSEVE) established by the San Andres Accords, implementation of the agreement on indigenous rights and culture, presentation of serious government proposals in the talks on democracy and justice, and an end to military and paramilitary prosecution of indigenous people in Chiapas.
These factors and others upset the balance of power that underlay the rough equality of the treaty relationship. The prevailing view of the world of (English and French) Europeans and European-Canadians in the nineteenth century served to legitimate the colonial relationship. This "stages" view ranked cultures and peoples hierarchically in accord with their stage in a purported process of world historical development. Modern European nations were taken to be at the highest and most developed stage, and their institutions and cultures provided the norm against which all others could be ranked.
It would then elaborate a final proposal that each side could either unconditionally accept or reject. Acceptance by both parties would lead to immediate Congressional approval, given the participation of all major political parties in COCOPA. COCOPA'S proposal included reforms to articles 4, 18, 26, 53, 73, 115, and 116 of the Mexican Constitution. Most significantly, the proposed new language for article 4 of the Constitution would legally define the scope of indigenous autonomy: The indigenous peoples have the right to free determination and, as an expression of this, to autonomy as part of the Mexican State, such that they may: I Choose their internal forms of social, economic, political and cultural organization; II Apply their traditional [judicial] systems of regulation and solution for internal conflicts, respecting individual guarantees, human rights, and, in particular, the dignity and integrity of women; their proceedings, trials, and decisions will be validated by the jurisdictional authorities of the State; III Elect their authorities and exercise their internal forms of governance, in accordance with their own norms and within the scope of autonomy, guaranteeing the participation of women in conditions of equity; IV Fortify their political participation and representation in accordance with their cultural specificities; V Collectively agree on the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of their lands and territories, understood as the total habitat used or occupied by the indigenous communities, with the exception of those lands whose domain corresponds directly to the Nation; VI Preserve and enrich their languages, knowledge, and all the elements which form part of their identity and culture; and VII Acquire, operate, and administer their own means of communication.