I have always been fascinated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army, a.k.a. EZLN or the simply the Zapatistas. The New York times refers to the EZLN as “the first postmodern revolution” and perhaps this is the reason I’m drawn to them. It could also be the poetic words and sensual mystery of its sub-commander MARCOS. Regardless of the reason, one things is for sure, the Zapatistas embrace the teachings of Marx and attempt to bridge the gap between rhetoric (which Mexican indigenas have always had plenty of) and reality. Whether this is possible or not still remains a mystery.
During my master’s thesis I lived near an indigenous Zapatista village in Chiapas and I witnessed the poverty and diseases which were very common in their society. I felt sad to see children who were the same age as mine, but half their height and weight, begging for food. These indigenous Maya people make the majority of the Zapatistas movement, and though many don’t know it, they have been practicing Marxism even before Marx was born.
Today, the U.S. labels the Zapatistas a socialist/communist group which poses a danger to U.S. interests. As a matter of fact, they have been on the F.B.I. list for several years. The Maya have been secluded from Mexican mestizos and the rest of the world for thousands of years, yet after the uprising of 1994 when they took over seven municipios (towns) they revealed themselves to the world with a phrase “Ya Basta” no more exploitation and abuses. Ever since, they have been fighting, hidden in the jungle but via the internet for access to land, justice, and autonomy.
Through this paper, I hope to be able to further the connection between Marxist theory and the Zapatistas, their Maya culture, including their ancient ideology based on communal welfare, lack of land ownership, and leaders who live and die for their people. These concepts are very foreign to the way I was raised, under a traditional, Western ideology of capitalism. I’m very interested in making the connection and being able to see Marxism in action, which may just workout for the Zapatistas.