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Uprising of Hope: An Ethnography of Zapatismo

by Cassiodorus Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 09:30:18 AM EST

This is my take on Duncan Earle and Jeanne Simonelli's (2005) book Uprising of Hope, an ethnography of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico.  I conclude by suggesting that there are political lessons to be learned from Zapatistas, especially insofar as they go about their everyday lives.

(original photo taken by "Alma_Roma", San Cristobal de las Casas, August 12, 2006.)

Zapatistas -- Wikimedia public domain

(reposted from Docudharma by special request)

Diary rescue by Migeru


Book Review: Earle, Duncan, and Jeanne Simonelli.  Uprising of Hope.  Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.

AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF ZAPATISMO: THEORETICAL POINTS

This book is an ethnography of Zapatismo, the movement for social change originating in the hinterlands of the state of Chiapas, in Mexico.  It was constructed from various write-ups of an ethnographic project that started out as a chronicle of an "apolitical" charity effort in southern Mexico, and from there the authors' project slowly changed into an involvement with Zapatista democracy and Zapatista political economy.

Duncan Earle and Jeanne Simonelli's UPRISING OF HOPE is a joint ethnography of the Zapatistas in Chiapas from two social workers who started off writing about charitable programs and ended up being part of the Zapatistas' own democratic process.  The writing of the ethnography itself becomes part of this process:

The communities we work with are no longer the benign recipients of anthropological scrutiny. We have been asked to give up part of the control of the research endeavor, to learn and document together, to return with what we write.  For some anthropologists, this loss of power has not been accepted easily.  Do we study others, or do we learn from them?  Do they consent to be part of our researches, or are we given permission to remain in their villages?  (10)

Other books detail Zapatismo from the perspectives of observers of a political conflict within Mexican politics; UPRISING OF HOPE offers an ethnography which weaves the details of everyday life into the political analysis, and in the process we get to see Zapatista democracy in practice.  About four weeks ago, on the last day of 2007, I published a review of Nick Henck's Subcommander Marcos, the most recent, and most complete, biography of the Zapatista leader (and public voice) to have appeared on the market so far.  However, and as I suggested in the review, politics really isn't about leaders, though they're the most visible aspects of it; politics is about "making a living," the principles that come out of "making a living" in a particular way, and the political choices one needs to make in order to "make a living."  

Let me suggest that the "theory" typically used by folks here concedes the ground that could be occupied, in revolutionary fashion, like the Zapatistas do.  This is the ground of the politics of everyday life, and we too often concede this ground for the sake of "getting it on" in the world of electoral politics.  A theory that refuses to concede such ground would be, for instance, that of Nancy Fraser.  Fraser's essay, "Rethinking the Public Sphere," offers a distinction that will help us understand how the Zapatistas have something to offer us politically.  In this essay (pp. 109-142 of Habermas and the Public Sphere, ed. Craig Calhoun), Fraser makes an important distinction between "strong publics," which are "publics whose discourse encompasses both opinion formation and decision making," and "weak publics," "publics whose deliberative practice consists exclusively in opinion formation and does not also encompass decision making." (134)  We need to be "strong publics" -- the politicians are already a "strong public," but not for us.  Rather, capitalist politicians serve money, and are served by it.

Zapatismo can be seen as an effort to create "strong publics" amidst the dangerous sense of disempowerment created in Chiapas by Mexican neoliberalism.  Part of the success of Zapatismo in this regard has to be credited to the Maya people themselves - the reader can see hints of this in the early narrative, in which Duncan Earle observes a meeting of Maya locals which uses consensus process.  In the main bulk of this book, the process of empowerment is shown in the internal conflict within an ejido (commune) called "Cerro Verde," and observations in two other communities, "Ojo de Agua," and "Tulan".  

Indeed it is true that, as the Mexican government has cut off funding to Zapatista communities in Chiapas, the Zapatistas have come to depend upon various NGOs for support.  As Clifford Bob points out in The Marketing of Rebellion, one reason for Zapatista success is the success the Zapatistas have had in getting support from NGOs.  And so, also, we must indeed consider Zapatismo as a form of a rebellion carefully crafted to elicit such aid.  Nevertheless, Zapatismo offers what Joel Kovel calls "the most prefiguratively successful example of a reclaimed commons in the image of the Paris Commune" (252), in the new edition of THE ENEMY OF NATURE.  Thus Zapatismo is a prefiguration, and a damn good one, by the standard set in my essay on the Pomona College Natural Farm.  Kovel means to praise the Zapatistas as an example of socialism as Marx intended it; democratic both in terms of what we call "politics" but also in terms of control over the means of production.  Kovel also praises the "ecosystemic integrity" of the Zapatistas, in line with his project of "ecosocialism." (253)  All of these comments on the Zapatistas are largely true; Earle and Simonelli try to specify the larger picture in terms meaningful for everyday life.

HOW THIS BOOK IS LAID OUT

Part 1 of this book is about "arrivals," setting the stage for the ethnographic venture.  That part covers the first four chapters.  Chapters 5 and 6 are about the history of Chiapas, starting with early meetings organized by the Marists in the 1970s (which assembled a general Maya complaint about government/ corporate oppression), and culminating in the events of the 1990s, specifically about 1998, in which the regime of Ernesto Zedillo tried to label the Zapatistas as a criminal conspiracy (and prosecute it) in response to the corporate withdrawal of support for the Mexican economy.  The story shifts promptly (p. 96) to the authors' entry into Zapatista turf, both of them fairly naïve at that time about the politics of the occasion.  They are questioned about "who do you represent?" at a time when they imagine themselves to be mere students of rural Chiapas life, naïve gringos.  The narrative then brings in late `90s Chiapas politics as a contextual backdrop, with a focus on Simonelli's organization, DESMU (which stands for "desarrollo mujeres"), and its role in aiding the rebellion in Chiapas.  This, we are told, was the time in which the resistance community of "Tulan" was formed; "Tulan" was a community in resistance which split off from a larger community ("Miguel Hidalgo") to build a site for itself away from the original site.  

The Mexicans the authors meet in this initial inquiry seem to be really savvy about organizational politics.  When DESMU plans a clinic for Guatemalan refugees, the "head of the committee for health" wants to know how the clinic will be organized, and about whom it will be for.  Will the clinic operators be allowed to charge those who didn't build the clinic for services and medicines? (110)

Chapter 7 is about Cerro Verde, a community in resistance which also participates in the coffee trade.  The narrative in this part is about picking coffee beans, washing dishes, and the school, culminating in a discussion of the coffee economy and the collapse of coffee prices in the late `90s.  Chapter 8 is about DESMU and its mission as an NGO, a "non-government organization."

Chapters 9 and 10 are about the autonomous community of Cerro Verde, starting with the community-in-rebellion's split away from the community-not-in-rebellion.  The "Consejo," the council of Cerro Verde, behaves somewhat like a government in its own right; it wants to see Earle and Simonelli's "credentials," and hear their explanation for what they are doing in Zapatista territory, so that they can have a relationship with the "hermanamiento," the group in solidarity.

The rest of Uprising of Hope, parts 3 and 4, bring us into the everyday life of the Zapatista regime.  Much is revealed: how the Zapatistas get their electricity, how they did the chores on their farms, how development projects are undertaken, and so on.

For the Zapatistas, the main point of entertaining foreigners such as Earle and Simonelli was, and is, to further mutual understanding; the authors, and others, may have something to donate to the Zapatista community, but of primary worth is the experience of mutual understanding:


In Cerro Verde, they planned an excursion to the milpa (the cornfield) so that we could have some sense of accomplishment while they taught us about their lives.  After the (non-Mexican) students had thrown their backs into the exercise for about an hour, a twelve-year-old approached us to ask if they understood yet what planting was like.  We said we thought they did; he immediately called to the others, and we packed our machetes and returned to the enclave.  The time it took for them to "handle" us exceeded the value of any tangible service we could provide for them.  (232)

To a certain extent, this ethnography also describes the practice of "mandar obedeciendo," to lead by obeying, that characterizes Zapatista "leadership," and the "caracoles," the regional centers through which the "juntas de bien gobierno" (councils of good government) exercise their authority.  Abstract tensions characterize Chiapas life: "We sought to document the process of Zapatistas engaging with the market as they tried to do capitalism with socialist goals," (235) the authors say in describing a Zapatista honey business.  The Zapatistas want "development," but not "dependence," and not the ecological conquest that constitutes the capitalist development model.  The authors discuss Zapatista support for the milpa model of subsistence farming in great detail while at the same time recognizing that many Chiapas farmers wish to earn money farming export crops.

In 2003, the Zapatista community submitted to the NGOs a list of rules about what sort of aid it will and won't accept:

...what was certain was that if we wanted to keep working in Chiapas, we too would have to follow the new rules.  Now donors would no longer select the community they wished to support.  One could select an area of interest, such as education, but the Zapatista Juntas would determine which educational program would get the money.  Not only this.  No longer could we select a site for our service-learning projects.  With the aid of Cerro Verde's women, who developed workshops for other Zapatista communities on how to host gringo students, other more neglected sites would be developed to receive future programs.  And because the Zapatista motto is "for each of us nothing, for all of us, everything," even the surplus earned form the sale of the Tulan honey would technically have to flow into the Junta office for redistribution.  (253)

Thus relations with the NGOs themselves are made subject to economic democracy.  What we read in Uprising of Hope is that Earle and Simonelli must comply with these rules like everyone else.

Even the ethnography itself has been democratized, as the ethnographic subjects were allowed to read, and approve of, the text.  At the end of the book, the authors summarize their encounter: "We can say that Zapatismo is a social experiment to discover alternative ways to arrange people in space so that no one is left behind." (292)

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: FUNDAMENTAL THINGS OF INTEREST

What can we see in Earle and Simonelli's illustration of Zapatismo?  First off, the Zapatistas perform their democracy, economic, political, or everyday, through careful attention to the quality of relationships.  When the white ethnographers arrive on the scene, the questions they are asked are all about "what kind of relationship will we have?"  Secondly, the Zapatistas are distinctive as a social movement because they refuse government aid, and they do so because they are unwilling to give up the social order they themselves have constructed.  At one point Jeanne Simonelli asks about the ejido (the commune) in Cerro Verde: "Was there no way for this group to work together for mutual benefit before they all sold out to the latest additions to the government plans to bribe ejido farmers into individualizing their land?" (216)  Lastly, the ritual performances of everyday life are the cement holding Zapatismo together: as the authors say, "without the overlay of the world of everyday life, the autonomous movement might seem to be no more than impractical rhetoric, a utopian dream." (292)

SOME APPLICATIONS OF ZAPATISTA THINKING TO MY POLITICAL SITUATION

1)    Autonomy is important.  As I pointed out in my diary on Nick Henck's book, the Zapatistas are hemmed in by circumstances.  Their movement is unable to spread significantly outside of Chiapas, or even to the whole of Chiapas; perhaps the rest of Mexico is not sufficiently organized to refuse government aid, and thus to resist the government's efforts to impose a neoliberal social order upon Mexico.  This explains why "autonomy" (and not merely economic democracy, by itself) is so essential to Zapatismo.  Autonomy allows the Zapatistas to resist the invasion of Chiapas by moneyed power; it is, therefore, the first thing we will have to emphasize if we wish to create a movement to resist the destructive invasion of the world (and, indeed, the destruction of the world) by moneyed power.

2)    Having community is important.  In our rush to achieve "politics," to vote for Obama or Clinton, we have neglected the matter of our relationship to the political structure.  Legislation is in fact a commodity for us; vested interests pay politicians to craft it the way it has been crafted (and they don't pay politicians who do otherwise), so we let money dominate our relationships.  In fact, a case can be made that relationships outside of the family are often given insufficient attention in American life.  (In fact, there is a broad social-scientific literature documenting the social atomization of American life, of which Robert D. Putnam's statistical compilations in Bowling Alone and Rebekah Nathan's ethnography My Freshman Year are prominent examples.)  Does any community in America have the wherewithal, the will, to resist capitalism?  Indeed, here, I want to contrast Zapatistas who tell the authors of this book, "We have to talk," with Americans who go about their daily lives saying nothing of importance, or just wearing headphones and listening to music.  Creating community, then, needs to be our first priority, and in this community we need to get beyond the social structure in which we are mere "weak publics."  (This truth rings loud and clear in writings about Zapatista women; so far, I can recommend Teresa Cruz's Never Again A World Without Us and Guiomar Rovira's Women of Maize: Zapatista women have often had to face a sort of triple discrimination, in which they are excluded from power as women, as non-Spanish speaking natives, and as Zapatistas; in Zapatismo many of them find the strength of self-assertion.)

3)    Political spectacle is a mere show.  What this means for our political life is that it tends to rely upon what Murray Edelman calls "political spectacle."  Politics becomes a show.  The politicians make promises, we clap, and then everyone goes back to work for the system.  The promises, then, don't have to have a meaningful connection to reality, as the real deals are made when the political show is over and its audience has been dismissed from its participation in the rituals of political empowerment, going back to being a "weak public" in Fraser's terms.  (Our technological development has supported political spectacle, both in weapons and communication technologies.  We go from the slingshot to the atomic bomb and from basic language uses to the Internet.)  Zapatismo doesn't work like this.  Under Zapatismo, everything depends upon community support.

4)    Be in touch with the land.  Zapatismo is tied to indigenous traditions of respect for the land common to that region of the world.  For a "Zapatismo" that would be good for, for instance, my own neighborhood, such a thing would have to be brought in.  California is a commercial center, and its greatest product, so far, has been real estate.  This is likely to change with the collapse of the housing bubble. It needs to be returned to the sustainable traditions so evident in southern Mexico: corn, beans, squash.

That is all, for now.

Display:


"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 at 12:50:35 PM EST
They are a great lesson that we need to assimilate very quickly to escape the oppressive lives we accept as normal.  The very idea of making rulers serve the people, as they should, seems surreal nowadays.  We are squeaky wheels that nobody pays attention to because they have replaced us with moneyed interests.

The people rule here.  The government obeys.  
Full stop!  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 at 04:32:17 PM EST


"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 at 07:16:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great review, and your "APPLICATIONS OF ZAPATISTA THINKING TO MY POLITICAL SITUATION" are golden! I couldn't agree more.


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 at 09:33:42 PM EST
thank you!

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Thu Feb 7th, 2008 at 09:19:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... "Burning the Midnight Oil".

I'll reproduce it from after the discussion of the above essay:

So, what are those lessons, and how do I apply them to the construction of a robust progressive populist movement?

  • Autonomy Is Important
  • Having Community is Important
  • Political Spectacle Is A Mere Show
  • Be In Touch With The Land

Now, these are just oversimplified and empty slogans unless you have read what cassiodorus meant by them, and then by the same token, I will be inevitably simplifying and sanding away the grain of cassiodorus' expression should I try to "convey" the flavor and tone as well as thematic content of the essay. So, read it, and use the above as shorthands for what you brought away with you.

And I will use them as a point of departure.

Autonomy is important. We must own our spaces ... our spaces online, our spaces in the brick and mortar world where we hit the streets. Its all well and good ... or not ... to get engaged with spreading the word among the morass of readers on a mainline, mainstream, watered down blog ... even one that prides itself on being in the "progressive" blogosphere without being very clear what we are supposed to be making progress on, and what would constitute progress. But we must own our workshop space.

This does not mean that we concede what are public spaces, whether truly public domains or quasi-public domains like shopping malls and A-list blogs where security guards can, if we do not behave according to the rules, evict us. However, we must always build and maintain our own places to gather and work where we cannot be evicted for having a clear idea of what we wish to make progress on and what would constitute progress.

Having Community Is Important. And we do not have community by any means other than by fostering communities, contributing to communities, allowing space for communities to arrive at decisions. Of course, the importance of community also means that we cannot start a day late and a dollar short ... and if we are going to likely be a dollar short anyway, that means we must start what is considered to be days early. And, in particular, when one or more of our progressive populist communities is supporting a campaign, we by no means stand back and wait to see where the campaign will lead. We need to work with campaigns, but if we are doing so as a community, we have to be open and pro-active when we do so. And, indeed, since being open requires more time than the autocratic top-down model of Replicant Blogistan, that make being pro-active even more critical.

Political Spectacle Is Mere Show. If we are going to build and grow a progressive populist movement, it is going to be involved with elections, but is cannot be consumed by them. The horse race is, after all, just a horse race ... if it is all we follow, we end up staring at and cheering on a large number of horse's asses. Building a progressive populist political movement requires ongoing attention to becoming citizens of a Republic ... even if that Republic only exists in vague institutional memories of local civic engagement and brief flirtations with expanding that to the broader political landscape.

We do not, in other words, invest all of our emotional energy in any one political campaign, to the point of falling back from being players on the field to being cheering spectators on the sidelines. We do not allow campaigns to be an excuse for halting the construction of the movement.

And, most important, Be In Touch With the Land. We are not pursuing a progressive populist movement if the defining goals of the movement are adopted without contact with our friends and neighbors in our local communities. Indeed, we cannot allow building a progressive populist movement to consume our lives, because most of our friends and neighbors will never be able to join us in that space ... so we must build of movement that we can live within, part of our growing networks of communities.

So, this is my country of the mind ... but the one thing my country of the mind demands I refuse to say is, "My County Right or Wrong". This country of the mind, only and precisely when it is right. If over time it goes wrong, we shed it like a snake shedding an old skin ... and grow another movement.



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 7th, 2008 at 02:34:22 PM EST
I'm glad you were inspired!  At this point, tho, we don't appear to be reaching a larger community with this discussion...

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Fri Feb 8th, 2008 at 08:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
etc.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 8th, 2008 at 10:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
spread that mustard around!

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 10:30:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wonderful diary, tightly written, dense, but never heavy.
the zapatistas are brave pioneers, pointing the way forward, in much the same way the cubans are, but without castro's dark side.

i don't know much about the situation, but i wonder if a movement like this can only survive where there are no resources to rip off, ie in areas where subsistence farming is the only reason to be there, and the only way to stay alive.

there are areas like this in italy, and probably in france, spain, portugal and greece too, where the young people are leaving the towns to the old, and the olive groves become tangled and overgrown.

land that supported many families a century ago.

i wonder too if movements like this could be born in places like europe, where people have often forgotten how to live on the land without fossil fuels for tractors and chemical fertiliser. people who haven't yet been softened by the conveniences of modern life. chiapas has in a sense rejected modernity in favour of social justice, and without the ngo's i wonder how long they'd make it.

it's heartening that ngo's are supporting such a humane experiment. these folks are living by choice how we may well feel lucky to live by necessity if things go pearshaped.
it seems like a tiny island of common sense in a sea of confusion, and your descriptive way of moving from the personal to the political and back made for inspiring reading.
thanks cass, and thanks also to migeru for rescuing it.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 12:39:56 PM EST
Many thanks for this - a excellent review of what sounds like a very interesting book.

I've been meaning to read more about the Zapatista movement for a while now. Would you recommend this as a good introductory book?

The Heathlander

by heathlander on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 12:48:15 PM EST
Start with Nick Henck's biography of Marcos.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 11:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by heathlander on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 09:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am amazed at their self governance.  

Is the central government too weak to re-establish control?  I know there was fighting there a few years back but haven't heard anything in quite awhile.

Is there some sort of agreement now between the Mexican government and the Zapatista's?

by Jagger on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 05:23:46 PM EST
As far as I know, there is no agreement.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 11:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Zapatista movement seems to have fallen on hard times.  I read an article a few days ago that described the withdrawal of another one or two hundred families from the movement.  It seems the Government bought them off with stipends of some sort and other social benefits that they could not resist.  Mexico had a long history of incorporating independent political movements into the PRI.  Now that the PRI has lost much of its preeminence, it could be that the collective other parties have learned the same technique.

Another factor, I note, is that poverty/conditions seems to have reached the point of desperation in some parts of Chiapas.  Beginning just a few years ago, I began to notice the presence of large numbers of indigenous migrants from Chiapas in Villahermosa, Tabasco.  Many were begging on the streets, something not all that common before in Villahermosa.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 03:39:33 PM EST
Can you confirm this?

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 11:16:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Confirm that families are leaving the Zapatista movement or the fact that there has been an exit of Chiapas residents to Tabasco?

I can look for the news article on the families departing.  It was just a few days ago, about the same time of your post.  I almost commented then but got distracted.

Re increasing poverty in Chiapas - I don't know. The only indicator I have is the presence of people begging on the streets.  Everyone says they are from Chiapas.  The women in particular are dressed in traditional rural Mayan/indigenous garb, not something one usually sees in Tabasco anymore.

We will be returning to Mexico in March - would have already been there but for health problems.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are two links (published in San Angelo and Houston, Tx newspapers for AP) to an article about the 200 family departure.

http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/feb/08/200-families-leave-zapatista-rebels/

http://www.congoo.com/news/2008February10/Families-Mexico-break-Zapatista-movement

Polho, Mexico - Nearly 200 families have abandoned the Zapatista rebel movement in one of its strongholds, turning to the government for aid at a time when the insurgents are complaining about the loss of outside support.

On Wednesday, each family received initial payments of $43 in a ceremony with Salvador Escobedo, a top official with the federal government's Social Development Department. The government is promising similar payments every two months, as well as a school and medical center.

The ceremony in Polho, long a backbone of the Zapatista movement, appeared to be the most prominent desertion from the insurgency since 2004, when about 400 families in the unofficial rebel capital of La Realidad broke away to accept government help, dividing the village in two.



I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 01:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Mexicans are still screwing with Chiapas, too...

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 11:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, thank you very much for this and your diary.  As one who has watched Mexico for 45 years, I believe that the country's problems need to be considered as a whole and resolved in the same manner. The conditions that led to the creation of the Zapatista movement have existed for a very long time in Mexican society, but circumstances in Chiapas (such as the degree of repression, the relative isolation of certain areas, and the homogeneity of the indigenous groups there) made it possible to seek change of their circumstance in ways not available to other regions.  People in other regions are also very poor and suffer from many of the inadequacies that characterize the indigenous peoples of Chiapas; however, the poor have little chance of bettering their circumstances.  Both the poor and small middle classes Mexico may be in for increasingly difficult times ahead as Mexico's oil reserves dwindle, violent crime increases, and the government struggles yet again to maintain its economic solvency. Major reform is the only real answer. Yet like the rest of Latin America reform is still a dream.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 05:05:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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