TECH TALK TUESDAY – Will cyberspace become the main front for new wars?

nancy Techie Tues 9-2-97

In a world where ideas are supreme will guns become obsolete?  Today we learn how technology and ideas might overcome all!

Government Lost &
Defeated in Cyberspace 

by Diego Cevallos 

MEXICO CITY, – Unarmed and lost in the Internet, the Mexican government lies beaten by the ”intercontinental cyberspace liberation fleet,” the vanguard of the Zapatista guerrilla.

Experts taking part in the ”Digital Government,” meeting this week were forced to agree the authorities cannot cope with the political battle launched by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) on the Internet.
Criticism of the Ernesto Zedillo administration flowed over the network today, after the Migrations Institute expelled a group of Italian observers on a vist to the Southern state of Chiapas Monday.
The government stated the foreigners had broken the rules by travelling to places they were not allowed to visit and announcing further regulations on any future visitors. Those expelled complained they had been treated badly and complained the authorities are trying to conceal the human rights violations committed in Chiapas.
EZLN followers in Mexico, the United States and Europe, especially Spain and Italy, who form one of the biggest virtual communities on the Internet, keep most of the information on the guerrilla groups up to date, offering attractive designs and swift navegation.
In contrast, the government responds slowly to the attacks and its pages on the network are constantly being changed.
Furthermore, in the offices of State bodies, like the Congress, two different official pages are disseminated, and many ministries have not updated their information for more than six months.
Participants in the ”Digital Government” meeting of officials and computer experts from Tuesday to Thursday this week will discuss Internet strategies which can be used by the public services, educational and political sectors, areas where the government falls short.
”The authorities are still losing political battles to the Zapatistas in the use of information technology,” said Marco Maytorena, one of the participants.
The ”Intercontinental Cyberspace Liberation Fleet,” as the followers of the guerrilla have dubbed themselves in one of the dozens of pages on the EZLN in the Internet, stated the Mexican government aim is to wipe out all the Zapatistas and indigenous people of Chiapas.
On more than one occasion, the information describing military manoevres in Chiapas reported on the Internet has from the truth, often exaggerating the situation.
For instance, in February 1995, when the army took back areas occupied by the EZLN, some sites reported they had bombarded towns and cities in Chiapas, and that the streets and hospitals had been filled with dead and injured – something that never happened.
A year later, when the EZLN and the government made a frustrated attempted to restart peace negotiations, the guerrillas’ followers wrote that war was closer than ever, while others even claimed a chemical weapons attack was being prepared.
Somw of the Internet sites created by supporters of the Zapatista guerrilla, like ”Zapatista Page” and ”Clandestine Page,” carry slogans like ”Death to the PRI” (the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party) and ”we stop the war.”
The official EZLN page, which has existed since the group first emerged on January 1, 1994, is called ”Ya Basta” (Enough) and is limited to reproducing press information and statements by its leader Subcomandante Marcos, who appears wearing his full-face balaclava and smoking a pipe.
The organisation Global Exchange of San Francisco, in the United States, offers 800 dollar”reality tours” of Chiapas. The tour includes visits to areas of the fighting in the southern state and interviews with local bishop and mediator, Samuel Ruiz.
Then there is the six-day ”Chiapas and Cuba: revolutionary cultures” package for the really keen.
Since the Zapatista guerrilla appeared on the political scene, thousands of foreigners, especially Europeans and US citizens, have visited the southern state, while others have created sites on the Internet divulging information, both false and true, and presenting interesting political analyses.
Most of the pro-Zapatista pages include the address of the President’s office and other State bodies, inviting the public to send letters of protest against the government policies.
People like the Italian observers who travelled to Chiapas and others who used the Internet ”only want to provoke, because the Cold War in their countries is over and being of a Marxist ilk they want to relive their out of date ideas,” said PRI deputy, Ramon Mota.