The Struggle of EZNL In Modern Mexico
In so few words, the Zapatistas are a people united in the struggle for the rights and dignity of the indigenous people of Mexico. They are a group composed of the natives to the land of the state of Chiapas, the southernmost and poorest state in Mexico, which primarily consists of the tribes of the Mayan peoples. The conditions that these indigenous people live in are a testament to the injustices caused by the spread of colonialism and capitalism and the blind eye that its institutions and governments have turned to the people who inhabit the land from which its profits are made. The suffering has given these people a voice, and the collective struggle has given rise to an organized army of the people: the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). The motives, actions, and origins of the EZLN are either misinterpreted or misunderstood by many. Often times my research has uncovered contradictions as to the purpose of this group, which shows that they are not fully known on a larger scale. However, their methods of non-violence after some initial violent uprisings have led to their sustenance, and the message they preach is spreading throughout the world and gaining them much support. They are both War and Peace in their existence, and in their ends have stated that they will bring War in order to finally attain Peace. What follows is a brief introduction to the setting of which the EZLN was born: the history of Mexico, the conditions and peoples of Chiapas, the shrouded origins of the EZLN, and the legend of the man from which they took their name: Emiliano Zapata. Following this is an account of the uprising that announced their presence to Mexico and the world in 1994, the effects of this, the march on the capital in 2000, and the on-going struggle they lead today.
A Brief History of Mexico
This timeline is of events in Mexico relevant to the indigenous population and the forming of the EZLN. It is important to consider the history as far back as the 1500’s because this is the date in which the struggle started. To think of the EZLN as having only a modern origin and cause is to ignore the root of their ideology, as noted by Martin Espada in the documentary ‘Storm from the Mountain.’
“The Zapatista uprising didn’t spring out of nowhere, not even the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The Zapatista uprising began the day Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas five centuries ago. The Zapatista uprising will continue and it will find other countries and it will find other names until we have rid ourselves of the legacy of Columbus, of the legacy of imperialism, conquest, genocide, racism.”1
1521 - Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) falls to Hernan Cortes of Spain
1525 - Francisco Montejo and his Spanish troops complete their conquest of the Mayans
17th Century - Economy of ‘New Spain’ collapses. Spanish rulers by this time have