Efforts to launch Chiapas peace talks stumbled Friday as the government complained for a second day of the presence of some 1,000 guerrilla sympathizers at the negotiating site.
The first formal talks in a year to end Mexico's Indian rebellion were to have opened Thursday in San Andres Larrainzar, 30 miles northeast of San Cristobal. But government negotiators said the peasants who showed up for the scheduled start of talks threaten security and must leave.The Indian men, women and children camped overnight on the main plaza, and by Friday morning had put away pro-rebel banners that had angered officials earlier. But they said they would not leave.
However, a rebel communique late Friday said the peasant leaders had been asked to return to their villages and had agreed to do so, leaving only those needed for duty on a security cordon around the talks site.
Within hours, most of those in the plaza had left. But there was no immediate response from the government, and it was not clear if that had fully satisfied its security concerns.
Reporters saw the supporters leaving Larrainzar in small groups, some on foot and others crowded on rickety buses. A few groups shouted insults at government soldiers sitting on a nearby hill.