The modern Maya of Chiapas have lunched a high-profile media attack on Western corporations that threaten ejido farmland. Waging war with guns, music, art and song, the Zapatistas have become a symbol of resistance against first world domination. Subcomandante Marcos, mysterious rebel spokesman, considers globalization the Fourth World War:

          . . . the financial hyper bombs of the Fourth World War are different in nature.  They serve to attack territories (national states) by the destruction of material bases of their sovereignty and by producing a qualitative depopulation of those territories.  This depopulation involves the exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy.    

                        La Velocidad del Sueño
                  Subcomandante Marcos   1994


      Organized as the EZLN and FZLN,  The Zapatista claims to represent millions silenced by international development.  Over a decade ago, the media-savvy indigenous rebels commanded the attention of the First World.  On the January 1, 1994 (non-coincidentally the day NAFTA went into effect) Zapatista rebels "seized control" (source: Pentagon) of a major military base and at least 5 key cities in Chiapas.  Officially the stand-off lasted 12 days, but eleven years later in 2005, the U.N. reports "low-intensity warfare" has become a part of Chiapaneca life.                              

      In the year 2003, Mexican President Vincente Fox added several thousand troops to the militarized zone of Chiapas. According to PBS Frontline reporter Garance Burke, there are now between 23,000 and 63,000 Mexican soldiers in Chiapas "depending on who's counting". The Chiapas-based organization CAPISE claims there are 91 military encampments in the state, 51 of them unconstitutionally stationed within native communities.                              

      Essentially, the Zapatistas want liberty and recognition of indigenous culture.  They are demanding that native peoples be respected politically and socially.   In addition to governmental autonomy and land rights, the Zapatista overtly calls for recognition of humanity. The Zapatista Declaration of 1994 regrets violence but explains the indigenous organizations are acting "in the only way that government authorities have left us, armed struggle".   According to the EZLN and local mythology, no civilian has died at the hands of the Zapatistas, all causalities have been strictly militia.  The Mexican Government, however, continues its brutality towards civilians in townships with Zapatista sympathies.  It is for this reason that San Christobal's mestizo population overwhelmingly favors the Zapatista side of the conflict.

The rebel’s high-profile war against “the erasure of native cultures by globalization” (Marcos 23) considers international media its greatest defense.  The Zapatista rebellion has attracted many international observers to Chiapas.  Over the recent decade, Chiapas has become inundated by press, humanitarian workers, radicals, students, and adventurous travelers from around the globe.  Lives that were just 10 years ago, hidden and virtually inaccessible to outsiders now are now being watched by the entire world.  Through the blatant rejection of government services and the instatement of completely autonomous communities, the indigenous of Chiapas represent a powerful alternative to global imperialism.



Frente Zapatista de
Liberación Nacional

Zapatista Army of
National Liberation


Ejército Zapatista de
Liberación Nacional

Zapatista Front of
Nacional Liberación

Radio Insergente
the voice of the EZLN