Mexico and the Caribbean

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The Zapatistas 17 years of Rebellion

On the morning of January 1st 1994 a previously unheard of armed group in the state of Chiapas, South East Mexico, seized control of seven town and cities, freeing prisoners from jails and setting fire to police stations. This was the EZLN or Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional), the military wing of what came to be referred to as the Zapatista’s. By the standards of South and Central America the rebellion was a minor, short lived and small scale conflict, the fighting was over within 12 days. But what marked the Zapatista’s out was not their use of arms but the politics behind the rising, the large scale and long lived experiment in direct democracy that followed and perhaps most importantly the huge influence they were to have on the emerging summit protest left over the decade that followed.

Haiti: Intervention and Imperialism

The horrific death toll from the earthquake in Haiti briefly focused the world’s attention on the plight of the Haitian people. The earthquake was a natural disaster coming on top of decades of human disasters imposed upon the people as its economy has been forced to transform to suit the needs of transnational corporations. This is the reason so many people were packed into substandard accommodation in Port-au-prince.Those who want to turn all of Haiti into one vast low wage sweatshop have used the earthquake to advance their agenda. On the day it occurred, the US Heritage Foundation issued a statement arguing that "the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy."

Haiti - a history of intervention, occupation and resistance

Toussaint L'OuvertureSince the start of the great anti-slavery republican insurrection nearly 220 years ago, Haiti has been presented as a dangerous place incapable of running its own affairs and requiring foreign intervention.  Yet the reality is its people were the first enslaved population to deliver themselves from slavery and also carried out what was only the third successful republican insurrection on the planet.  The threat of this good example was rewarded with centuries of invasion, blackmail, the robbery of Haiti's natural resources and the impoverishment of its people.  This articles summarizes that history of intervention and the resistance to it in order to put into context what is happening in Haiti after the quake. It was written s predictions for the death toll from the Haitian earthquakes rise over 200,000, ABC News have reported that planes carrying medical equipment and relief supplies are having to compete with soldiers for the valuable slots at Port-au-Prince airport which was taken over by the US military after the quake. 

PDF pamphlet of this article [Greek translation]

The Zapatistas - an anarchist analysis of their structure and direction

Zapatista pamphlet

A PDF pamphlet which contains two articles looking at the struture of the Zapatistas and their strategy.  The first from 1997 was based around interviews done in a Zapatista community and with international peace observers as well as an exhaustive study of material in English on the Zapatistas including all their communiques.  The second written in 2005 updates the critique developed in the first in the light of the new direction announced in 2005.

What is it that is different about the Zapatistas?

Cowboy Zapatistas

The EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) came briefly to the worlds attention when they seized several towns in Chiapas on New Years day in 1994. This image of a new armed rebel movement in the period when such movements were meant to have recognised their own redundancy was startling and demonstrated that history was not yet over.

Since then most of the continued support the Zapatistas have received is strongly based on the idea that the Zapatistas are different. Different not just from the neoliberal world order they oppose but, more fundamentally, different from the armed revolutionary groups that exist and have existed elsewhere in the world. [This text as a PDF pamphlet]

The Zapatista contribution to the new opposition

 This was a talk I gave to the WSM during the spring of 1997 as part of a set of re-orientation talks and debates we were having in that period and which set us up for the Seattle wave.  This is perhaps foreshadowed where I wrote "the fact that the Zapatistas have emphasised the need for a global response has resulted in the creation of a global network against neoliberalism ... This network is fragile, .. But the central importance of the gathering is that it is creating a new tradition of international solidarity."

A New Direction For The Zapatistas?

Zapatista flags Oventic

Over the summer of 2005 the Zapatistas surprised their supporters by suddenly declaring a Red Alert out of the blue. After a couple of days of near panic it emerged that this was just because they were undergoing a consulta (a discussion and referendum) which would decide on a new path for the movement. This new path is to once more turn outwards and to aim to build a new alliance across Mexico and beyond.

 

The Zapatistas, anarchism and 'Direct democracy'

The Zapatista rebellion of 1994 has become the 90's equivalent of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions. It has excited the imagination of a layer of active young. The balaclava and pipe toting Marcos is becoming the same sort of visual icon that the bearded and beret wearing Ché was 30 years earlier. And perhaps it is this similarity that has scared the organised anarchist movement into comparative silence on the on-going rebellion in Chiapas?

Anti-Ulises : A Day In the Life of a Simmering City

Oxaca virginThe Epic Struggle for Another Oaxaca Has Not Finished, says David Venegas.
May 15, 2008, Oaxaca City, Mexico.

"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake."
Stephen Daedalus, in Ulysses, James Joyce 1922

The Mexican Zapatistas and direct democracy

On January 1st 1994, a rebel army called the Emiliano Zapata Liberation Front (EZLN) rose against the Mexican government in Chiapas, Mexico. Workers Solidarity contributor Andrew Flood has been researching the life of ordinary people in the Zapatista area. Below he writes about some of his findings

  


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