Folkrörelser och Protester
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The zapatists of Chiapas
The Mexican land reform never got as far as Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest, most backward, and most Native American state. There, mobilization began as late as the 1970s, as part of the Catholic Church’s liberation theology. The oppressed Native American peasants and peasants demanded human dignity, and as a result, the land reform enshrined in the constitution.
But this was too late for them to have such a patriarchal land reform as the Mexican state had practiced in the 1930s. Now it was again the world market and exports that mattered. And the violence escalated.
Chiapas’ farmers made many attempts to be heard in national politics. They took an active part in the attempts made during the 70s to build up independent farmers’ organizations, outside the state’s grip. They ran their claims the usual legal way, for about 20 years. They carried out national marches to the capital in protest of the violence. But nothing helped.
The much-publicized uprising in January 1992 was carried out by the peasants private police force, which they were forced to build up in response to constant attacks from the landowners’ private armies. Such a police force began to build up as early as the mid-1980s.
The uprising attracted global attention, not least because the language of the peasants was perceived as so different. This language has also been developed on a liberation theological basis for twenty years. At the center is human dignity, which is threatened by the unilateral economism of the Mexican government and NAFTA. The peasants’ occupation of the cities was not the beginning of a ”takeover”, but an action to attract attention and be regarded as a serious player in politics, as well as the global conferences they have held against corporate liberalism.
The future of the peasants is not decided. Today, the violence continues on a low level, as does negotiations with the state.