The ways in which the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) arms itself and from which sources; whether high-profile politicians have been involved in any arms purchases (1994 to March 2001) [MEX36595.E]

No reports on whether high-profile politicians have been involved in any arms purchases to the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism reported in October 1999 that the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) was "relatively poorly armed with AK-47 assault rifles, M14 and G3 rifles, grenades, rocket launchers and some explosives" (26 Oct. 1999). The sources of the weapons were reportedly the regional black markets (ibid.).

Mondes rebelles similarly reported that the EZLN was insufficiently armed with a variety of weapons ranging from the latest American assault weapons to hunting arms to arms used during the Second World War (1999, 66). Subcomandante Marcos, EZLN leader, stated that the arms were purchased by the combatants themselves and were not donated by any outside source (ibid.).

In February 1995, UPI reported that then president Ernesto Zedillo had ordered the arrest of five EZLN leaders, including Marcos, and others linked to the rebel group after the authorities discovered an "arsenal of high-power arms, hand grenades...and explosives" in Mexico City and in Veracruz State, allegedly belonging to the Zapatistas (9 Feb. 1995). Among those to be arrested was Fernando Yanez Munoz who was in charge of the finances and arms purchases for the Zapatistas (ibid.).Maria Gloria Benavides Guevara, who helped to identify the rebel leaders, was one of eight persons detained during the raid on the Zapatista operation in Mexico City (ibid.). The Research Directorate was unable to ascertain whether the Zapatista leaders had been arrested.

In March 1995, an AP report stated that Honduras was being used as a transit route for traffickers to channel arms from El Salvador and Nicaragua to the EZLN in Chiapas (22 Mar. 1995). The EZLN denied that it had received arms from any Central American country (ibid.). In September 1995, a Mexican and an Italian were arrested in Honduras for attempting to smuggle arms, including rifles, bullets, guns, grenades , a rocket launcher and grenade launchers, into Chiapas for the Zapatistas (The Guardian 19 Sept. 1995).

Several reports stated that the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador was supplying arms to the EZLN (The Austin American-Statesman 11 Aug. 1998; El Diario de Hoy 26 June 1994; LARR 25 Mar. 1997). In July 1994, El Diario de Hoy reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had uncovered a scheme in which the FMLN were training Zapatista rebels in Chiapas (26 July 1994). The Salvadoran Minister of Defence reported that army intelligence was investigating the ties between the FMLN and the ELZN, which included the possible supply of weapons from the former to the latter (ibid.). According to military sources, the weapons "could have been supplied from Nicaragua or sent directly from El Salvador, where there are large quantities of weapons in clandestine caches" (ibid.). LARR reported in March 1997 that a cache of arms belonging to the FMLN had been found outside the Nicaraguan capital of Managua (25 Mar. 1997). "Right-wing" parties in El Salvador had accused the FMLN during the 1997 elections of financing their election campaign by selling arms to the Zapatistas (ibid.). In August 1998, then Salvadoran president Armando Calderon Sol ordered an investigation into allegations that FMLN rebels had sent weapons to the Zapatistas following remarks made by Francisco Labastida, then Mexican Minister of Interior, that the EZLN had received arms from El Salvador and Colombia (The Austin American-Statesman 11 Aug. 1998).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Associated Press (AP). 22 March 1995. Freddy Cuevas. "There are 'rational indications' that Honduras is being used to move weapons..." (NEXIS)

The Austin American-Statesman. 11 August 1998. "El Salvador Examines Arms Report." (NEXIS)

El Diario de Hoy [San Salvador, in Spanish]. 26 July 1994. "Salvadoran Ministry Probes FMLN Links to Mexico's EZLN." (JPRS-TOT-94-033-L 26 July 1994/WNC)

The Guardian [London]. 19 September 1995. "Arms Cache Seized." (NEXIS)

Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism. 26 October 1999. "Ejercito Zapatistas de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN)."

Latin America Regional Reports: Caribbean & Central America Report (LARR) [London]. 25 March 1997. "Weapons Found." (NEXIS)

Mondes rebelles: guerres civiles et violences politiques [Paris]. 1999. Jean-Marc Balencie and Arnaud de la Grange. Paris: Éditions Michalon.

United Press International (UPI). 9 February 1995. "Mexican Rebel Leaders Ordered Arrested." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Extremist Groups: An International Compilation of Terrorist Organizations, Violent Political Groups and Issue-Oriented Militant Movements [Chicago]. 1996

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Prof Juárez (PRODH)

Excélsior [Mexico]. Search Engine

Global Exchange

Human Rights Watch

Informador [Guadalajara].

La Jornada [Mexico]. Search Engine

World Policy Institute

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