Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Overview
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is a revolutionary left
Revolutionary Left
Revolutionary Left may refer to:* Revolutionary Left * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement...

ist group based in Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, the southernmost state of Mexico.

Since 1994, the group has been in a declared war "against the Mexican state," though this war has been primarily nonviolent and defensive against military, paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

, and corporate
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 incursions into Chiapas. Their social base is mostly rural indigenous
Indigenous peoples of Mexico
Mexico, in the second article of its Constitution, is defined as a "pluricultural" nation in recognition of the diverse ethnic groups that constitute it, and in which the indigenous peoples are the original foundation...

 people but they have some supporters in urban areas as well as an international web of support.
Encyclopedia
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is a revolutionary left
Revolutionary Left
Revolutionary Left may refer to:* Revolutionary Left * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement * Revolutionary Left Movement...

ist group based in Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, the southernmost state of Mexico.

Since 1994, the group has been in a declared war "against the Mexican state," though this war has been primarily nonviolent and defensive against military, paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

, and corporate
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 incursions into Chiapas. Their social base is mostly rural indigenous
Indigenous peoples of Mexico
Mexico, in the second article of its Constitution, is defined as a "pluricultural" nation in recognition of the diverse ethnic groups that constitute it, and in which the indigenous peoples are the original foundation...

 people but they have some supporters in urban areas as well as an international web of support. Their main spokesperson is Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation , a Mexican rebel movement. In January 1994, he led an army of Mayan farmers into the eastern parts of the Mexican state of Chiapas protesting against the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous...

 (currently a.k.a. Delegate Zero in relation to "the Other Campaign
The Other Campaign
The Other Campaign is a political program by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, as a new approach in its sixteen year-long struggle for the recognition and protection of indigenous rights and autonomy in Mexico. This program began in January 2006, and sent Subcomandante Marcos, the main...

"). Unlike other Zapatista spokespeople, Marcos is not an indigenous Mayan
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

.

The group takes its name from Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

, the agrarian reformer and commander of the Liberation Army of the South
Liberation Army of the South
The Liberation Army of the South was an armed group formed and led by Emiliano Zapata that took part in the Mexican Revolution. The force was commonly known as the Zapatistas....

 during the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

, and sees itself as his ideological heir. In reference to inspirational figures, in nearly all EZLN villages exist murals accompanying images of Zapata, Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, and Subcomandante Marcos.

Although the ideology of the EZLN is reflective of libertarian socialist politics, paralleling both anarchist and libertarian Marxist thought in many respects, the EZLN has rejected and defied political classification; retaining its distinctiveness due in part to the importance of indigenous Mayan
Maya mythology
Mayan mythology is part of Mesoamerican mythology and comprises all of the Mayan tales in which personified forces of nature, deities, and the heroes interacting with these play the main roles...

 beliefs in Zapatismo thought. The EZLN aligns itself with the wider alter-globalization
Alter-globalization
Alter-globalization is the name of a social movement that supports global cooperation and interaction, but which opposes the negative effects of economic globalization, feeling that it often works to the detriment of, or does not...

, anti-neoliberal social movement
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

, seeking indigenous control over their local resources, especially land. Since their 1994 uprising was countered by the superior military might of the Mexican army
Mexican Army
The Mexican Army is the combined land and air branch and largest of the Mexican Military services; it also is known as the National Defense Army. It is famous for having been the first army to adopt and use an automatic rifle, , in 1899, and the first to issue automatic weapons as standard issue...

, the EZLN has abstained from offensively using their weapons and adopted a new strategy that attempts to garner both Mexican and international support. Through an internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 campaign, the EZLN has begun to disseminate an understanding of their plight and intentions. With this change in tactics, the EZLN has received greater support from a variety of NGOs and organizations as well as increased attention in both leftist and mainstream media
Mainstream media
Mainstream media are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter...

 outlets. The EZLN has also entered popular culture thanks in part to the support it has received from bands such as Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group's line-up consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk...

, 47 Ronin, Garotos Podres
Garotos podres
Garotos Podres is a Brazilian Oi! punk rock band formed in 1982 in the city of Mauá in the metropolitan region of São Paulo called A.B.C..In 1985, while Brazil was still under military dictatorship, they appeared on the Ataque Sonoro compilation along with Ratos de Porão, Cólera, Lobotomia and...

, Leftöver Crack
Leftöver Crack
Leftöver Crack is an American punk rock band formed in 1998, following the breakup of the ska punk band Choking Victim. Primarily playing an amalgam of ska and hardcore punk, they classify themselves as "crack-rocksteady". The band is currently signed to Fat Wreck Chords for CD releases, and...

, Brujeria
Brujeria (band)
Brujeria is an extreme metal band formed in Tijuana, Mexico in 1989. Their name comes from the Spanish word for "witchcraft". Their songs, which are sung in Spanish, are focused on Satanism, anti-Christianity, sex, immigration, narcotics smuggling, politics....

, Anti-Flag
Anti-Flag
Anti-Flag is a punk rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, formed in 1988. The band is well known for its outspoken political views. Much of the band's lyrics have focused on fervent anti-war activism, criticism of United States foreign policy, corporatism, U.S. wealth...

, Dead Prez
Dead Prez
Dead Prez stylized as dead prez is a hip hop duo from the United States, composed of stic.man and M-1, formed in 1996 in New York City, New York. They are known for their confrontational style, combined with socialist lyrics focused on both militant social justice and Pan-Africanism...

, Immortal Technique
Immortal Technique
Felipe Andres Coronel , better known by the stage name Immortal Technique, is an American rapper of Afro-Peruvian descent as well as an urban activist. He was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Harlem, New York. Most of his lyrics focus on controversial issues in global politics...

, Manu Chao
Manu Chao
Manu Chao , is a French singer of Spanish roots . He sings in French, Spanish, English, Italian, Galician, Arabic and Portuguese and occasionally in other languages...

, Sun Rise Above
Sun Rise Above
Sun Rise Above, also known as Sun R. A., is a hip-hop artist, notable for his leftist political views and corresponding lyrics. Sun Rise Above calls his form of music hiphopraganda...

, Maná
Maná
Maná is a pop rock band from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, whose career has spanned more than three decades. They have earned three Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards Latin America, five Premios Juventud awards, nine Billboard Latin Music Awards and 13 Premios Lo...

, Active Member
Active Member
Active Member is a Greek hip-hop/low bap group, founded in 1992 by Michalis Mitakidis ,Nikitas Klint and Dimitris Kritikos .-History:...

, and Tijuana No!
Tijuana No!
Tijuana No! is a Mexican ska, rock and punk band, from Tijuana BC, México. In the beginning their name was Radio Chantaje , and later they became No, but upon the knowledge of another band called the same, they changed their name to No de Tijuana , to later just shorten it to Tijuana No!...

.

History

The Zapatistas went public on January 1, 1994, the day when the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA) came into effect. On that day, they issued their First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle and their Revolutionary Laws. The declaration amounted to a declaration of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

 on the Mexican government, which they considered so out of touch with the will of the people as to make it completely illegitimate.

Their initial goal was to instigate a revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

 in all of Mexico, but as this did not happen, they used their uprising as a platform to call the world's attention to their movement to protest the signing of NAFTA, which the EZLN believed would increase the gap between rich and poor people in Chiapas. The EZLN also called for greater democratization of the Mexican government which had been controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party
Institutional Revolutionary Party
The Institutional Revolutionary Party is a Mexican political party that held power in the country—under a succession of names—for more than 70 years. The PRI is a member of the Socialist International, as is the rival Party of the Democratic Revolution , making Mexico one of the few...

 (PRI) for 65 years and for land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

 mandated by the 1917 Constitution of Mexico
Constitution of Mexico
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States is the current constitution of Mexico. It was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro, by a constitutional convention, during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917...

 but largely ignored by the PRI. The EZLN did not demand independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from Mexico, but rather autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

, and (among other things) that the natural resource
Natural resource
Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

s that are extracted from Chiapas benefit more directly the people of Chiapas.

On the morning of January 1, 1994, an estimated 3,000 armed Zapatista insurgents seized towns and cities in Chiapas, including Ocosingo
Ocosingo
Ocosingo is a city and its surrounding municipality of the same name in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The municipality borders the Usumacinta River along a portion where the river forms the international border with Guatemala. The city had a 2005 census population of 35,065 inhabitants, and serves...

, Las Margaritas
Las Margaritas, Chiapas
Las Margaritas is a city, and the surrounding municipality of the same name, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The municipal seat is located some 25 km to the northeast of Comitán de Domínguez, while the municipality extends to the east as far as the border with Guatemala...

, Huixtan
Huixtán
Huixtán is a town and one of the 119 Municipalities of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.As of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 18,630. It covers an area of 181.3 km²....

, Oxchuc
Oxchuc
Oxchuc is a town and one of the 119 Municipalities of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.As of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 33,780. It covers an area of 72 km²....

, Rancho Nuevo, Altamirano
Altamirano
Altamirano is a surname, and may refer to:* Agustin Altamirano* Armin Altamirano Luistro* Carlos Altamirano* David Altamirano* Fernando Altamirano* Héctor Altamirano* Ignacio Manuel Altamirano* Luis Altamirano* D...

, and Chanal
Chanal
Chanal is a town and one of the 119 Municipalities of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.As of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 7,568 . It covers an area of 295.6 km²....

. They freed the prisoners in the jail of San Cristóbal de las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas also known as it's native Tsotsil name, Jovel is a city and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, and set fire to several police buildings and military barracks in the area. The guerrillas enjoyed brief success, but the next day Mexican army
Mexican Army
The Mexican Army is the combined land and air branch and largest of the Mexican Military services; it also is known as the National Defense Army. It is famous for having been the first army to adopt and use an automatic rifle, , in 1899, and the first to issue automatic weapons as standard issue...

 forces counter-attacked and fierce fighting broke out in and around the market of Ocosingo. The Zapatista forces took heavy casualties, and retreated from the city into the surrounding jungle.

Armed clashes in Chiapas ended on January 12, 1994, with a ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 brokered by the Catholic diocese in San Cristóbal de las Casas under Bishop Samuel Ruiz
Samuel Ruiz
Samuel Ruiz García was a Mexican Roman Catholic prelate who served as bishop of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, from 1959 until 2000. This zone in Mexico is characterized by its poverty and its indigenous population...

, a well known liberation theologian
Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

. Some of the land taken over by the Zapatistas in 1994 was retained, but the territory they held militarily for a little more than a year was overrun by the Mexican army in a surprise ceasefire breach in February 1995. The Zapatista villages were mostly abandoned following the offensive, and the rebels fled into the mountains after breaking out of the Mexican army perimeter.
Although army camps were set up along all major thoroughfares, the army failed to capture the guerrilla movement's commanders. Instead, the Mexican government pursued a policy of negotiation, while the Zapatistas developed a mobilization and media campaign through numerous newspaper comunicados and over time a Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle
Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle
The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle was a manifesto issued by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation on June 28 2005, declaring their principles and vision for Mexico and the world.The first such declaration, issued in 1993, amounted to a declaration of war on...

 with no further military actions on their part. After the First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle, subsequent declarations have focused on non-violent solutions, both through political channels and through the assumption of many of the functions of government in the Chiapas state of southeastern Mexico. Other groups within Chiapas, such as the pacifist Las Abejas
Las Abejas
Las Abejas, or "The Bees," is a Christian pacifist civil society group of Tzotzil Maya formed in Chenalho, Chiapas in 1992 following a familial property dispute that left one person killed. When members of the community took the injured man to the nearest town for medical attention, they were...

, support many of the goals of the Zapatista Revolution without condoning the use of violence to achieve those goals. A strong international internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 presence prompted numerous left-wing international groups to support the Zapatista movement.

With the new government of President Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox Quesada is a Mexican former politician who served as President of Mexico from 1 December 2000 to 30 November 2006 and currently serves as co-President of the Centrist Democrat International, an international organization of Christian democratic political parties.Fox was elected...

 (the first non-PRI president of Mexico in over 70 years) in 2001, the Zapatistas marched on Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 to present their case to the Mexican Congress. Although Fox had stated earlier that he could end the conflict "in fifteen minutes," the EZLN rejected watered-down agreements and created 32 "autonomous municipalities" in Chiapas, thus partially implementing their demands without government support but with some funding from international organizations.

On June 28, 2005, the Zapatistas presented the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, declaring their principles and vision for Mexico and the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

. This declaration reiterates the support for the indigenous peoples, who compose roughly one third of the population of the state of Chiapas, and extends the cause to include "all the exploited and dispossessed of Mexico". It also expresses the movement's sympathy to the international alter-globalization
Alter-globalization
Alter-globalization is the name of a social movement that supports global cooperation and interaction, but which opposes the negative effects of economic globalization, feeling that it often works to the detriment of, or does not...

 movement, and offers to provide material aid to those in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and elsewhere, with whom they make common cause. The declaration ends with an exhortation for all who have more respect for humanity than for money to join with the Zapatistas in the struggle for social justice both in Mexico and abroad. The declaration called for an alternative national campaign (the "Other Campaign") as an alternative to the presidential campaign. In preparation for this alternative campaign, the Zapatistas invited to their territory over 600 national leftist organizations, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations in order to listen to their claims for human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 in a series of biweekly meetings that culminated in a plenary meeting on September 16, the day Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain. In this meeting, Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation , a Mexican rebel movement. In January 1994, he led an army of Mayan farmers into the eastern parts of the Mexican state of Chiapas protesting against the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous...

 requested official adherence of the organizations to the Sixth Declaration, and detailed a six-month tour of the Zapatistas through all 31 Mexican states that took place concurrently with the electoral campaign starting January 2006.

Ideology

The ideology of the Zapatista movement, Zapatismo, synthesizes traditional Mayan practices with elements of libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production...

, anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, and Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

. The historical influence of Mexican Anarchists
Anarchism in Mexico
-Historical:Pre-conquest, some of the indigenous peoples of what is today Mexico had decisionmaking structures based on participation, discussion, and consensus, hallmarks of modern anarchism...

 and various Latin-American Socialists is apparent on Zapatismo; with the positions of Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation , a Mexican rebel movement. In January 1994, he led an army of Mayan farmers into the eastern parts of the Mexican state of Chiapas protesting against the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous...

 also adding a distinct Marxist element to the movement. A Zapatista slogan is in harmony with the concept of mutual aid
Mutual aid (politics)
Mutual aid is a term in organization theory used to signify a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Mutual aid is arguably as ancient as human culture; an intrinsic part of the small, communal societies universal to humanity's ancient past...

: "For everyone, everything, for us, nothing" (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada).

The EZLN opposes economic globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, arguing that it severely and negatively affects the peasant way of life of its indigenous support base and oppressed people worldwide. An example of neo-liberal policy that the EZLN opposes is the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA). Apart from opening the Mexican market to cheap mass-produced US agricultural products, NAFTA spells an end to Mexican crop subsidies without a corresponding end to US ones, and drastically reduced the income and living standards of many southern Mexican farmers who cannot compete with the subsidized, artificially fertilized, mechanically harvested and genetically modified imports from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The signing of NAFTA also resulted in the removal of Article 27 Section VII in the Mexican Constitution which previously had guaranteed land reparations to indigenous groups throughout Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.

Another key element of the Zapatista ideology is their aspiration to do politics in a new, participatory
Participatory politics
Participatory politics or parpolity is a theoretical political system proposed by Stephen R. Shalom, professor of political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey....

 way, from the "bottom-up" instead of "top-down." The Zapatistas consider the contemporary political system of Mexico
Politics of Mexico
The politics of Mexico take place in a framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic whose government is based on a congressional system, whereby the president of Mexico is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system...

 inherently flawed due to what they consider its purely representative nature and obvious disconnection from the people and their needs. Instead, the EZLN claims to reinforce the idea of participatory democracy
Participatory democracy
Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

 or radical democracy by limiting public servants' terms to only two weeks, not using visible organization leaders, and constantly referring to the people they are governing for major decisions, strategies and conceptual visions. As Marcos has reiterated, "my real commander is the people". In accordance with this principle, the Zapatistas are not a political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

: they do not seek office throughout the state, because that would perpetuate the political system by attempting to gain power within its ranks. Instead, they wish to reconceptualize the entire system.

In an unusual move for any revolutionary organization, documents released by the EZLN (in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

) before the initial uprising in 1994 explicitly defined a right of the people to resist any unjust actions of the EZLN. They also defined a right of the people to
It added that the people should "acquire and possess arms to defend their persons, families and property, according to the laws of disposition of capital of farms, commerce, finance and industry, against the armed attacks committed by the revolutionary forces or those of the government."

Women's Revolutionary Law

From the First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle, the Zapatistas presented to the people of Mexico, the government, and the world their Revolutionary Laws on January 8, 1994. One of the laws was the Women's Revolutionary Law, which stated:
  1. Women, regardless of their race, creed
    Creed
    A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

    , color
    Color
    Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

     or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle
    Struggle
    Struggle may refer to:* Struggle , 1999 release* Struggle, 1990 re-release of Woody Guthrie material* "Struggle", a track on Ashanti's 2008 album The Declaration* "Struggle", a song by Toots & the Maytals....

     in any way that their desire and capacity determine.
  2. Women have the right to work and receive a fair salary
    Salary
    A salary is a form of periodic payment from an employer to an employee, which may be specified in an employment contract. It is contrasted with piece wages, where each job, hour or other unit is paid separately, rather than on a periodic basis....

    .
  3. Women have the right to decide the number of child
    Child
    Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

    ren they have and care for.
  4. Women have the right to participate in the matters of the community
    Community
    The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

     and have charge if they are free and democratically elected.
  5. Women and their children have the right to Primary Attention in their health
    Health
    Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

     and nutrition
    Nutrition
    Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

    .
  6. Women have the right to an education
    Education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

    .
  7. Women have the right to choose their partner and are not obliged to enter into marriage
    Marriage
    Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

    .
  8. Women have the right to be free of violence from both relatives and strangers.

Political initiatives

Since December 1994, the Zapatistas had been gradually forming several autonomous municipalities, more or less independent of the Mexican government. See the List of Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities.

Communications

From the beginning, the EZLN has made communication with the rest of Mexico and the world a high priority. The EZLN has used technology, including cellular phones
Communications satellite
A communications satellite is an artificial satellite stationed in space for the purpose of telecommunications...

 and the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, to generate international solidarity with sympathetic people and organizations. Rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group's line-up consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk...

 is well known for its support of the EZLN, using the red star symbol as a backdrop to their live shows and have also often informed concert crowds of the ongoing situation. As a result, on trips abroad the president of Mexico is routinely confronted by small activist groups about "the Chiapas situation". The Zapatistas are featured prominently in Rage Against the Machine's songs, in particular "People of the Sun
People of the Sun
"People of the Sun" is the second single by the American band Rage Against the Machine for their 1996 album Evil Empire. The song is about the Zapatista revolution. Lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha wrote the song after a visit to the Chiapas in southern Mexico. "People of the Sun" also has a music...

", "Wind Below", "Zapata's Blood" and "War Within a Breath".

Prior to 2001, Marcos' writings were frequently published in some Mexican and a few international newspapers. Then Marcos fell silent, and his relationship with the media declined. When he resumed writing in 2002, he assumed a more aggressive tone, and his attacks on former allies angered some of the EZLN's supporters. Except for these letters and occasional critical "communicados" concerning the political climate, the EZLN was largely silent until August 2003, when Radio Insurgente
Radio Insurgente
Radio Insurgente is the official voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation .The radio station has been operating since August 2003 and it is independent from the Mexican government. Its broadcasting location is unknown. Radio Insurgente's content is focused on promoting the ideas and...

 was launched from an unknown location. In 2004, COCOPA head Luis H. Álvarez
Luis H. Álvarez
Luis Héctor Álvarez is a Mexican industrialist and politician. Álvarez is a member of the National Action Party. In 1958 he was a candidate for the Presidency of Mexico...

 stated in mid-2004 that Marcos had not been seen in Chiapas for some time. The EZLN received little press coverage during this time, although it continued to develop the local governments it had created earlier.

In August, Marcos sent eight brief communiques to the Mexican press, published from August 20–28. The set was entitled "Reading a video" (possibly mocking political video scandals that occurred earlier that year). The set began and ended as a kind of written description of an imaginary low-budget Zapatista video, with the rest being Marcos' comments on political events of the year and the EZLN current stance and development.

In 2005, Marcos made headlines again by comparing the then presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Andrés Manuel López Obrador , also known as AMLO or El Peje, is a Mexican politician who held the position of Head of Government of the Federal District from 2000 to 2005, before resigning in July 2005 to contend the 2006 presidential election, representing the unsuccessful Coalition for the Good...

 to Carlos Salinas de Gortari (as part of a broad criticism of the three main political parties in Mexico - the PAN, PRI, and PRD), and publicly declaring the EZLN in "Red Alert". Shortly thereafter, communiques announced that the EZLN had undergone a restructuring that enabled them to withstand the loss of their public leadership (Marcos and the CCRI). After consulting with their support base, the Zapatistas' issued the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.

Since the first uprising, the newspaper La Jornada
La Jornada
La Jornada is one of Mexico City's leading daily newspapers. It was established in 1984 by Carlos Payán Velver. The current editor is Carmen Lira Saade...

has continuously covered the Zapatistas. Most communicados and many of Marcos' letters are delivered to and only published by La Jornada, and the online edition of the newspaper has a section dedicated to the Other Campaign.

The independent media organization Indymedia also covers and prints Zapatista developments and communications.

Recent and current activities

On June 28, 2005 the EZLN released an installment of what it called the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. According to the communique, the EZLN has reflected on its history and decided that it must make changes in order to continue its struggle. Accordingly, the EZLN has decided to unite with the "workers, farmers, students, teachers, and employees... the workers of the city and the countryside." They propose to do so through a non-electoral front to talk and collectively write a new constitution to establish a new political culture.

On January 1, 2006 the EZLN began a massive tour - "The Other Campaign
The Other Campaign
The Other Campaign is a political program by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, as a new approach in its sixteen year-long struggle for the recognition and protection of indigenous rights and autonomy in Mexico. This program began in January 2006, and sent Subcomandante Marcos, the main...

" - encompassing all 31 Mexican states in the build up to the year's presidential election, which the EZLN made clear they would not participate in directly.

On May 3–4, 2006, a series of demonstrations protested the forcible removal of irregular flower vendors from a lot in Texcoco for the construction of a Walmart branch. The protests turned violent when state police and the Federal Preventive Police
Federal Preventive Police
The Federal Police , formerly known as the Policía Federal Preventiva , are the uniformed federal police force of Mexico...

 bussed in some 5,000 agents to San Salvador Atenco
San Salvador Atenco
San Salvador Atenco is the municipal seat of Atenco, in the Mexican state of Mexico.The name "Atenco" comes from a Nahuatl phrase meaning "place on the edge of water". -The town:...

 and the surrounding communities. A local organization called the People's Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), which adheres to the Sixth Declaration, called in support from other regional and national adherent organizations. "Delegate Zero" and his "Other Campaign" were at the time in nearby Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, having just organized May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

 events there, and quickly arrived at the scene. The following days were marked by violence, with some 216 arrests, over 30 rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and sexual abuse
Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or molester...

 accusations against the police, five deportation
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

s, and one casualty, a 14-year-old boy named Javier Cortes shot by a policeman. A 20-year-old UNAM economics student, Alexis Benhumea, died the morning of June 7, 2006, after being in a coma
Coma
In medicine, a coma is a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as...

 caused by a blow to the head from a police-launched tear-gas grenade. Most of the resistance organizing was done by the EZLN and Sixth Declaration adherents, and Delegate Zero has stated that the "Other Campaign" tour will be temporarily halted until all prisoners are released.

In late 2006 and early 2007, the Zapatistas (through Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos is the spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation , a Mexican rebel movement. In January 1994, he led an army of Mayan farmers into the eastern parts of the Mexican state of Chiapas protesting against the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous...

), along with other indigenous peoples of the Americas
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, announced the Intercontinental Indigenous Encounter. They invited indigenous people from all over the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 and the rest of the world, to gather on October 11–14, 2007 near Guaymas
Guaymas
Guaymas is a city and municipality located in the southwest part of the state of Sonora in northwestern Mexico. The city is located 117 km south of the state capital of Hermosillo, and 242 miles from the U.S. border, and is the principal port for the state. The municipality is located in the...

, Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

. In the declaration for the Indigenous Intercontinental Conference, it designated this date because of "515 years since the invasion of ancient Indigenous territories and the onslaught of the war of conquest, spoils and capitalist exploitation". Comandante David said in an interview; "The object of this meeting is to meet one another and to come to know one another’s pains and sufferings. It is to share our experiences, because each tribe is different."

The Third Encuentro of the Zapatistas People with the People of the World was held from December 28, 2007 - January 1, 2008

In mid January 2009, Marcos made a speech on behalf of the Zapatistas in which he supported the resistance of the Palestinians as "the Israeli government's heavily trained and armed military continues its march of death and destruction." He described the actions of the Israeli government as a "classic military war of conquest". He said: "The Palestinian people will also resist and survive and continue struggling and will continue to have sympathy from below for their cause."

New media technologies and the Zapatista idea

The Zapatista idea is the use of tactical media
Tactical media
Tactical media is a term coined in 1997, to de note a form of media activism that privileges temporary, hit-and-run interventions in the media sphere over the creation of permanent and alternative media outlets. Tactical media describes interventionist media art practices that engage and critique...

 to draw public attention to a political cause. Used as a form of political activism, the Zapatista idea is the notion that “the important thing is the spectacle that you make out of an event in the media, as opposed to the event itself". The concept derives from the Zapatistas' ability through new media
New media
New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. For example, new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community...

 to communicate and generate universal solidarity in Mexico and worldwide.

The “communications revolution has generally shifted the ‘balance of power’ from the media to the audience”. This has allowed the Zapatista idea to flourish, opening up new channels and providing a powerful forum for political participation by citizens (see edemocracy) on a scale like never before. “Digital, networked media allow for faster, diverse, two-way communications between users who have both more control and more choice” as they become simultaneously users, producers and agents of social change.

See also

  • Chiapas conflict
    Chiapas conflict
    The Chiapas conflict generally refers to the Zapatista uprising and its aftermath, but has to be understood in relation to the history of marginalization of indigenous peoples and subsistence farmers in the state of Chiapas, Mexico....

  • A Place Called Chiapas
    A Place Called Chiapas
    A Place Called Chiapas is a 1998 Canadian documentary film of first-hand accounts of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional the and the lives of its soldiers and the people for whom they fight...

    , a documentary on the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos.
  • Himno Zapatista
    Himno Zapatista
    The Himno Zapatista is the anthem of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation , a political group which launched a rebellion in the Mexican state of Chiapas on January 1, 1994. Themusic was taken from a Mexican Revolution corrido "Carabina 30-30"....

     - anthem of the Zapatistas.
  • Indigenous movements in the Americas
    Indigenous Movements in the Americas
    Indigenous people under the nation-state have experienced exclusion and dispossession. With the rise in globalization, the conditions indigenous populations live under have worsened. At times, national governments are negotiating natural resources without taking into account whether or not these...

  • San Andres Accords
    San Andrés Accords
    The San Andrés Accords are agreements reached between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Mexican government, at that time headed by President Ernesto Zedillo. The accords were signed on February 16, 1996, in San Andrés Larráinzar, Chiapas, and granted autonomy, recognition, and...


Further reading


External links


Multimedia

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