Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Evolution of a revolution

Back in '94 when the Zapatistas revolted in a mountainous backwater of Chiapas, many people wondered if the Mexican state could survive a revolution by indigenous people. The governments of Mexico basically allowed Chiapas to secede. It may be coming back to the mainstream.

In a Mexico ‘Tired of Violence,’ Zapatista Rebels Venture Into Politics
The Zapatistas, the most powerful political rebels in Mexico in nearly 100 years, are renouncing armed revolution, after decades of opposing the government, for a simple reason: Mexico is so riddled with violence, they say, that the country cannot handle any more of it.
A village in Chiapas

The decision is a searing commentary on the state of Mexico today, analysts say. The rebels have not reached a peace deal with the government, nor won their longstanding push for indigenous rights. But killings in Mexico are rising so quickly that even a movement rooted in armed struggle feels compelled to back away from violence…

Patricio Martinez
Letting go of the revolutionary identity that once defined them, the Zapatistas, whose full name is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, are venturing into electoral politics. They have endorsed María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, a healer from the indigenous Nahua people, in next year’s presidential elections…

When they first appeared in 1994, the threat of violence was part of the Zapatista program. A transfixed nation watched as an army of indigenous peasants, wearing ski masks and toting assault weapons, stormed several towns in the southern state of Chiapas and declared war against the Mexican state.

The rebels demanded the recognition and protection of indigenous communities, which have persistently ranked at the bottom of the country’s socio-economic ladder. With their armed insurrection, black balaclavas and fervent speeches, the Zapatistas forced Mexico to grapple with its long history of inequality…

A rocky negotiation process with the government ensued, leading to the San Andrés Accords, signed in 1996. It promised a constitutional reform that would grant limited autonomy to indigenous communities, such as the right to elect councils for local rule over their lands…

In the following years, the Zapatista-controlled territories exercised de facto autonomy, delivering broad access to education and health services. Organized crime has been unable to penetrate the area…

This Zapatista model of community organization, and the new political movement backing Mrs. Patricio for president, have given hope to some disenfranchised Mexicans that the way they are governed can be different, and better, with a more democratic system free of the deal-making and patronage politics that exist on practically every level of government…

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