October 14, 1994

Associated Press

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) -- Rising tensions in the southern state of Chiapas are putting a cease-fire in a peasant rebellion "at grave risk," the chief mediator in the conflict said.

Roman Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz urged the government and rebels of the Zapatista National Liberation Front to work together to create "a new dialogue" to avoid another outbreak of violence.

The bishop's statement came three days after the rebels broke off peace talks with the government. Ruiz urged the rebels to return to the talks.

A rebel statement said talks, stalled since March, will not be resumed while "there is no true will for dialogue."

The Zapatistas have accused the army of beefing up troops and weaponry in Chiapas, where the rebels are based in the remote jungle. They have also charged that Aug. 21 local elections in Chiapas were fraudulent.

The rebels, mostly Maya Indians from the canyons of southeast Chiapas, rose up against the government on Jan. 1. More than 145 people died before a Jan. 12 cease-fire.

In the talks, the rebels rejected offers of aid for Chiapas and greater respect for Indian rights, saying the offers fell short of full democracy for Mexico.