- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Tierra Y Libertad

By:   •  Essay  •  1,853 Words  •  April 4, 2010  •  793 Views

Page 1 of 8

Tierra Y Libertad

Tierra y Libertad


Land and Liberty, the people of Chiapas

Front Range Community College

Nearly five centuries ago the conquest of the Americas took root and has been working to maintain the oppression of the indigenous communities ever since. There has been an endless cycle in which these native people have struggled for their land and their rights. Rebellions have been frequent throughout these centuries of enslavement and exploitation. Within the first century that the Europeans had contacted the land that is today called Mexico, half of the population had been either killed directly or by a disease from which they could not resist.

In the year 1910 a peasant named Emiliano Zapata led a rebellion, which mobilized thousands in an effort to resist the governments expropriation of land. It was an armed revolution that lasted close to a decade and cost nearly two million lives. In 1919, Emiliano Zapata was assassinated by the Mexican Government. Although many saw the revolution as a failure to an unchanged system, the legacy and strength of his fight for land and liberty lives today. In Southern Mexico the state of Chiapas has been formulating a defense to confront this system for almost a quarter of a century. The indigenous communities of Chiapas are just a few of thousands throughout the world that are marginalized and resisting these forces. These native people are innocent bystanders in the brutal process of power, greed and now globalization. In 1970, 50,000 peasants were expelled from their communities due to the pressure to obtain land. They began to create autonomous organizations, declaring themselves independent of the government. Many demanded land reform, education in their native language, healthcare and labor rights. Centuries of community building have provided the footwork for these individuals to unite as the Zapatistas. In the state of Chiapas the Zapatistas have mobilized and contested the political corruption in Mexico. The name Zapatista is in connection to the tireless fight of Emiliano Zapata and his army in the 19th century.

Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico and is mainly inhabited by the descendents from Mayan heritage. The significance of land to these communities is deep within every aspect of their being. It’s the basis of their existence, from god and nourishment, to family and *livelihood. Each generation of the indigenous people have had to endure the reforms of the federal government, ceding their land and migrating further into the Lacandon Jungle in search of sustenance. These communities survive from common commodities like coffee, cacao, corn and bananas. There are industries that utilize the resources in Chiapas, of which the people receive no benefit from. Resources that are extracted from the region in large quantities are gas, oil and lumber. Likewise fifty five percent of Mexico’s hydropower is generated in Chiapas. In 1994, ninety-nine percent of the population was with minimal or no income. The education and health care systems were extremely poor and half the population was without drinkable water. An estimated 15,000 died each year from preventable diseases. Throughout these decades thousands have been assassinated, imprisoned, kidnapped and tortured as well as being forced from their homes. This was the reality of Chiapas and the government not only supported this type of injustice but they created it. It was these circumstances of outright thievery, neglect and abuse that led to the realization of the EZLN and many other autonomous entities.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) began to cultivate its forces in 1984. The mobilization of this movement began a decade before the public had even known of its existence. The mentality of this movement was to stand up to and confront the powers that had abused their people and threatened their lives for nearly 500 years. These powers are amplified through capitalism and globalization, which are constructed and advocated by the politicians and corporate greed. These communities have not been able to justly elect their own officials, which has kept them from participating in any decisions made concerning their lives. Without resistance they are left hopeless and without a voice.

In 1992 the political party PRI, which had been in office for over a sixty-five year period through fraudulent successions, revised Article 27 of the Mexican constitution. This revision allowed the private

Continue for 7 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Tierra Y Libertad
Download as (for upgraded members)