The Comeback of the Zapatistas in Mexico


The Zapatista rebel army, the EZLN, from expanding their sphere of influence, and the Mexican President, to congratulate you – well from the insight that the Autonomous self-administration is better than the state.

The applause came as a surprise: The National Zapatista liberation army (EZLN) wants to set up 16 new Autonomous self-governments in various towns in the Mexican state of Chiapas and the state President, Andrés Manuel López is enthusiastic: “Welcome, and more so, because it means working for the benefit of the communities and peoples”, said the Mexican President, at a press conference. “The Only thing we want is violence,” he added and gave the EZLN a way: “More deeds and less Talk. This is something we are happy to support and respectfully recommend.”

The EZLN, which began in 1994 in Chiapas, one of the poorest States of Mexico, their armed uprising, adds the new communities of the 27 Autonomous self-governments that there are in this state already.

“The announcement of the EZLN describes a reality. The indigenous self-governments are a Form of organization as a reaction to a state that doesn’t respect you and in your eyes is also a failed state,” said Erick Huerta, a lawyer and head of a citizens ‘ initiative for sustainable municipal development.

The leader of the Zapatistas, Subcomandante Marcos (l.), was a cult figure of the Left in the ‘ 90s (file photo)

Huerta is convinced that the strength of indigenous self-government in Chiapas and other regions of Mexico, the natural consequence of the global instability and the weakness of a state that appears to be totally corrupt.

“In the past few years, the number of the Autonomous has self-governments increased – not only in Chiapas, but throughout Mexico. This is because they are in the areas which fall within the natural competence of the state, much more efficient and the citizens safety.” The lawyer argues that there are in Chiapas municipalities, which, while in itself not zapatist, and the judicial procedure of the EZLN to connect, because it works in contrast to the state judiciary.

Mexico, a country with many left-wing movements

Günther Maihold, Mexico,-the expert of the Berlin Foundation for science and politics (SWP), pointed out that the Zapatista movement distances itself again from the left-wing government of López Obrador: “In the announcement of the EZLN, it is not only the creation of new municipalities, but also to gain a foothold in the Mexican society more feet. You want to be as social actors on the political stage.”

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According to Maihold, there are good reasons for the fear of strangers of the Zapatistas with López Obrador: “Mexico has traditionally had a lot of left-wing movements. They always had the difficulty, to agree and to find a common denominator.”

Maihold according to López Obrador’s “movement of the national renewal” (Morena) was not able to unite the various left currents and ideological. In addition, the EZLN had as emphasized indigenous movement and the political influence to resist in order to preserve the identity of their own.

“The idea of autonomy stands in contradiction to the concept of the nation-state, especially in the use of natural resources and the construction of infrastructure relating to the indigenous territories,” said Maihold. But this is precisely part of the Zapatista program.

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The Problem of structure development

“The communiqué of the EZLN makes it clear that the proposed huge rail project ‘Tren Maya’ encounters the resistance of the indigenous population, just like the measures to control migrants in the Region of the isthmus of Tehuantepec,” the political scientist Maihold.

The German expert stresses the need for Dialogue: “There are rights that can’t be hurt so easily, just because of a political decision in favour of an investment.”

On the other hand, the focused large-scale projects of López Obrador in southern Mexico to liberate large parts of the population out of poverty, the sociologist Heinz Dieterich: “This will only be an economic growth of four percent, and by major infrastructure projects such as the new oil Refinery in the South-East, and the railway project ‘Tren Maya’ possible.” For Dieterich, who is considered the spiritual father of the socialist model in Venezuela, the Zapatista Position is a Blockade for the entire southeastern area of Mexico and is an obstacle for the progress in the Region.