The Zapatista Movement started in one of the most ecnomically challenged Mexican state, Chiapas. In January 1994, several revolutionaries decided to form an armed movement to wage a war against the Mexican government hoping that this would aid in the elimination of corruption and power abuse. This group became known as the “Zapatista Army of National Liberation/Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional” (EZLN). The members of this group are called Zapatistas who were named after the first and most popular leader of the movement, Emiliano Zapata. Currently, Subcomandante Marcos acts as the spokesperson for EZLN (Castillo).The main objective of EZLN is to proclaim their independence from the Mexican government. They intend to form a socialist type of government to promote “individual rights, freedom and equality by eliminating property privacy and eradicating any oppression under the administration” (Castillo).
To be able carry out this objective, the movement needs to establish autonomous communities.Chiapas became an ideal place for the EZLN to initiate their plans because of the place’s ideal conditions for cultivating activism and rebellion. This populated Mexican state has an immense amount of labor force who helps in the production of the “35% of the country’s electrical energy supply” but ironically, almost 34% of the Chiapas population do not have access to electricity. More so, Chiapas is also endowed with diverse “natural resources, agriculture and oil” but only 60% of the people living there are able to live on a minimum wage. The literacy rate is at 30% wherein 60% of the children’s population do not know how to read and write. Also, indigenous groups in the areas have been subjected to racial discrimination that resulted to the death of 15,000 individuals in 1993 because of very poor living conditions (Sipaz.org).
Because of these unacceptable social conditions, the EZLN was able to exploit the situation by assuring the populace that the movement can help in improving their living conditions. Also, they have let the public know and feel that EZLN is committed to the needs and wants of the masses.As a result, EZLN was able to build their territories in order to foster the formation of a “new society where there is autonomy in the systems of education, health, commerce and justice” (Vogt). This also paved the way for the establishment of the “Good Government Council” whose main task is to oversee the different activities of the various sectors of the community such as health and education. More so, the council provides financial assistance so that the community projects can be carried out (Harvey). As a result, several health clinics were formed to supply free health care and schools were built to give free education to the people living in a Zapatista territory.The independence of the Zapatista communities helped in setting up a reliable social system that can initiate positive changes within the community without the help of the Mexican government. The modifications were very significant that the people were able to see and feel for themselves that their area was able to experience development.
Thorough this, the lives of the residents have dramatically improved (Harvey). According to EZLN, hunger and malnourishment are no longer an issue in their territories. Furthermore, their social initiatives have helped in improving the mortality rate of many women and their babies. The changes have been so beneficial to the communities that even non-Zapatistas wanted to seek the services and privileges offered at the Zapatista territories (Hernandez). Though the communities may seem exclusive, the social services are also open to non-inhabitants so that EZLN can expand their reach with the masses. Overall, EZLN built these autonomous communities to advance of their goal of having a classless and liberated society.
;Works CitedCastillo, Rosalva Aida Hernandez. Histories and Stories from Chiapas. Austin:University of Texas Press, 2001.Harvey, Neil. The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy.
UK: Duke University Press, 1998.“The Conflict.” 17 December 2008. Sipaz.org.
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htm;Vogt, Evon. Zinacantan: a Maya community in the highlands of Chiapas. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.