Monday, March 27, 2006


So Id always heard of the Zapatistas, but I never really knew much about them. Now I{ve seen a movie (produced in 98) so now I still know very little, but I{ll share it anyway.

So anyway, On January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA went into effect, Zapatista guerilla troops seiged 6 cities, the largest of which was San Christobal (the city I[m in now). You see, the beginning of Nafta was also the beginning of a new Mexican law that changed the rules of rural land ownership. Before, campasinos owned the land that they tended, but with the new law, the government began reclaiming it. This was the opportunity for Commander Marcos, (a masked frontman, proabably a political science professor from Mexico City) to encourage the beginnning of the Zapatista (named after Zapata, the original Mexican revolutionist) revolution. MARCOS is a acronym, each letter represeting one of the towns that the Zapatista´s overtook on Jan 1 (I can´t remember all the names, so I haven´t listed them). Ironically, the party in power in 94 was called the institutional revolutionary party. . . how can you have an institutionalized revolutionary party. . . doesn´t make sense to me.
Anyway, the´Zapatistas came into town, between 150-500 were killed, the government set up peace talks and shortly thereafter a temporary cease-fire was declared. They wanted change, not death. Peace talks were on going, and very very slow.

The movie that I saw focussed on a small town of zapatista supporters in the North of Chiapas, where a different paramilitary group called Peace and Justice, came in and kicked out the residents. Peace and Justice claimed that the Zapatistas were armed and they wanted change without arms (of course some of them had arms too). Of course, the displaced folks wanted to go back, but they were scared and wanted some sort of support either from Zapatisas, state police, or federal troops. None of the aforementioned groups helped, thouhg the Zapatistas pulled out of federal peace talks. These poor folks were stuck away from their village, out of their homes, without money, food, or any help. Finally, 4 months later, they went back to their town (with nothing but the film crew as escorts)and ended up camping on the outskirts for a month, and finally one group went back into the town.

The film ended, but then it turned out (in the post script) that a big bunch of Zapatista supporters were killed a few months later. Peace talks were set up again, and when I know more, i´ll update this blog entry!


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