the world's first post-modern revolutionary movementall excerpts from… CHIAPAS: THE FIRST POST-MODERN REVOLUTION – ANA CARRIGAN

“Who had ever known a revolutionary movement which did not want to take power for itself? Who would expect to meet a rebel leader who openly declared that the rebels had “neither the desire nor the capacity” to impose their own program on the rest of the country and who repeated, insistently, that the reason the rebels had taken up arms was in order to establish, “not the triumph of a single party, organization, or alliance of organizations,” but to create “a democratic space, where the confrontation between diverse political points of view can be resolved.”‘

These pronouncements revealed a clear break with the dogmas and romantic machismo of every previous Latin American guerrilla movement. It soon became clear that these contemporary representatives of the ancient Maya culture were presenting the world with history’s first post-modern revolution.”


“The rebels’ resort to arms says far more about the Mexican government’s refusal to respond to decades of crisis in the Indian communities of Chiapas than it does about the Zapatistas or the reforms they seek. Economically, the Zapatista ideology is anti-modem only in reaction to the impact that the government’s modernization policies, imposed without regard for Indian needs, have had on the Indians’ ability to feed their families and sustain community life. The Zapatista alterna- tive model of development does not constitute a rejection of capitalism so much as a radical reform, a redefinition, and democratization of a system whose excesses threaten the Indians’ survival.”


“The neo-Zapatista Indians want what no Mexican leader since President Lazaro Cardenas, in the mid- 1930s, has been prepared to give Mexico’s Indians: land, liberty, justice and respect. They seek a pluralistic, multiethnic democracy; the recognition of the traditional right of self-government in the indigenous communities; and the restoration of a lost democratic agrarian ideal. Through access to education, technology markets and support services, the rebels seek to transform this ideal into an independent, self-sustaining, and economically and ecologically viable society.”


“Although the Mexican Government has tried to deny the rebellion’s indigenous origins and leadership, no one can seriously doubt that Indian ethnic identity – as defined by race, culture, language, and their relationship to the land – is the defining characteristic of the Zapatista uprising.”


Nevertheless, 1994 is different from the 1911 revolution in one crucially important dimension. The presence of the white, urban, university-educated poet-warrior-spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos, at the revolution’s core has created, for the first time in modem Mexican history, a unique fusion between “the two Mexicos”: one white, modem and Western; the other Indian, tradi- tional and Meso-american. Octavio Paz writes that the dichotomy between “the two Mexicos” – one developed, the other undeveloped – is “the central theme of our modem history, the problem on whose solution our very existence as a people depends.”


“Whatever the final outcome of the Zapatista revolution, one thing is certain: The Zapatistas and their story will continue to cast a long shadow into the future, stretching far beyond the confines of Chiapas. For this first post-Cold War, post-modern indigenous revolution has held up a mirror to every Latin American country with an indigenous minority, where dangerous fissures and explosive social and economic injustices also coexist side by side with the thriving, modem economies of their elites. The revolutionary communities of the Lacandon Rainforest also speak to our own world. In the era of the global village, they speak of the need for recognition of different cultures and different dreams. They have also sounded the alarm about the nature and the impact of the economic imperatives that dominate the “new world order” from East to West and North to South, wherever national policies are driven by global markets and wherever money talks louder to governments than the people they represent.”


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