Zapatista Movement

Early in the class we had to read about the Zapatista Effect and how the Zapatista Movement was one of the first localized movements to gain a global following.  For 500 years these people were silently oppressed. Their land is very rich in resources like petroleum, which makes the land very coveted on a global scale. The growth in nongovernmental organizations led to civil war which occurred as a display of their opposition to humanitarian laws. The goal of the Zapatista Movement was for a more direct democracy.  This uprising primarily challenged the domestic policies in Mexico, having to do with land and indigenous affairs. The rebellion occurred in Chiapas, Mexico and was sparked by the signing of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) which gave access of their land to North America. The main goal is to support autonomy within, they were not against Mexican society.


*masks become symbol- internationally recognized and understood*

The world started paying attention January 1, 1994 when the EZLN (Zapatista Liberation army) came out of the jungle and took over towns in southern Mexican state of Chiapas. This uprising had one goal in mind, to make the voices of the indigenous people heard at the national level of Mexico. The military clashes only lasted a few days but caused three years of political negotiations. The Mexican government would share videos of the Zapatista movement to the rest of the country, framing them as the enemy. Little did the government know that the internet played in the favor of the Zapatistas.

The Zapatistas wanted their voices heard and wanted the outside forces to stay outside and wanted Mexico to be run by itself and its own people, autonomy within. The computer networks supporting the rebellion evolved rapidly. The internet is the platform where now people are woven together by their opposing, kind of like people coming together against a common enemy. Anti-NAFTA coalition supports and influences the pro-Zapatista mobilization which was able to spread across 5 continents, generating much wider activism. This was successful because the preexisting circuits. There was already and international level between computer rich North America and Western Europe. There was no internet access in the jungles but first hand reporters and observers were able to film and upload them. After that it reach international levels where commentary by specialists and analysts could voice their opinions. The internet allowed them to enter into debates internationally at that instant. These news reports complemented by the first hand videos and reports allowed for the few circuits to blow up. Conferences and webpages were devoted to Chiapas and their democracy struggles. The Mexican government was susceptible meaning they were more worried about what other countries though of them; they were most afraid of protests abroad than protests at home. That is how the Internet became key of the Zapatista movement; through the global awareness and debates the one-party control was eliminated.

this blog is an example of international effect

“The Zapatista Effect” is the evidence of connecting with other social movements around the world, such as the section in the reading titled “Beyond Solidarity: interlinking of autonomous movements against neoliberalism.” With this collaboration over the internet, new organizational capabilities were discovered by the networks of discussion and debates. Due to this others were able to organize themselves. A variety of individuals and groups locally oppose global polies. Hundreds of diverse nations with internet acces are now able to find common points of reference and vehicles for collaboration such as the world bank and are able to draw global responses. The EZLN played no direct role in the proliferation of the use of the internet; efforts were initiated by those first hand reporters and observers made it possible to weave the network of support of the Zapatistas.


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