On the first of January 1994 – under the motto “Ya Basta!” – “Enough!” – thousands of indigenous men and women occupied seven cities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The Zapatistas (named after the revolutionary Emilio Zapata (1879-1919)) fought a two week armed struggle against corruption, racism, and repression. Since then they have used peaceful civilian means to improve the living conditions of the population.
The Zapatista movement in Chiapas, México
The Zapatistas occupied areas owned by large landowners, divided the land between thousands of families and have been building autonomous civil structures ever since. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) rebellion was for land rights, health, education, freedom, democracy, peace, and justice. The Zapatista movement does not seek to take control of the state. Instead, the organization demanded profound democratization of the whole country and a rejection of neoliberal economic policies. The local and national political leaders are still reacting with military force, repression and disinformation campaigns. The EZLN sees its rebellion in a global context, and in 1996 called for the formation of an “International of Hope” in order to fight together with other movements for a solidary society and the preservation of nature.
In 2005, the EZLN launched “The Other Campaign”, the objectives being a new constitution for Mexico and the strengthening of the global resistance to capitalism. In the long term mobilization, independent organizations are to build an extra-parliamentary alliance in order to create an anti-capitalist alternative.
Writing Exercise and Discussion
Pick three of the topics below and discuss:
How the Zapatistas created alternative practices to improve the living conditions and sovereignty of the indigenous people in Chiapas? Which of the approaches and ideas interested you the most and why? Do you think these ideas and models could help marginalized communities in the U.S.?
.fighting for indigenous rights under neoliberalism
*Neoliberalism is characterized by free-market trade, deregulation of financial markets, privatization, individualization, and the shift away from state welfare. It is a policy model that seeks to transfer control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector. It tends towards deregulated capitalism and away from government spending and public ownership.
.respect for the land and ecological consciousness
.community self-rule structure
.global solidarity network