Monday, June 24, 2024

Zapatistas announce caravan to mark 30 years since uprising

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) has announced a “caravan of caravans” traveling from Mexico City to Chiapas, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising.

At a press conference in Mexico City, members of the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) said that 600 people from 19 Mexican states, as well as 20 countries, had registered to participate in the caravan, which departs the capital on Dec. 25.

The march will conclude in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, in the heart of the EZLN communities. (Isabel Mateos/Cuartoscuro)

The caravan will pass through Hidalgo, México State, Puebla and Veracruz before arriving in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, where the Zapatista Indigenous movement launched an armed uprising on Jan. 1, 1994.

The uprising, which fought back against the impacts of globalization on Chiapas’ Indigenous communities, was timed to coincide with the day the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect. It took Mexican authorities completely by surprise.

Although the fighting lasted only two weeks, the movement seized control of seven towns and garnered a wave of support from international leftist organizations, eventually leading the government to sign the San Andrés Peace Accords in 1996. The EZLN went on to create an “autonomous zone” of governance across parts of Chiapas, although these areas were never officially recognized as such by the Mexican government.

In recent years, however, the EZLN communities have been threatened by the disputes between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), vying for control of human smuggling and drug trafficking routes in the Guatemalan border region. This conflict has led to a wave of forced displacements, disappearances and murders in Chiapas.On Nov. 6, the EZLN announced that it had decided to dissolve 59 centers, as well as the governance structures known as Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities (MAREZ) and Good Government Juntas, and restructure the movement to face this new struggle.

A week later, the EZLN spokesman known as Subcomandante Moisés released a statement explaining that the MAREZ were being replaced with a three-tier form of autonomous government known as Local Autonomous Government (GAL) and an increased militia presence.

In this context, the EZLN took the unusual measure of advising its members and supporters not to attend the celebration for the 30th anniversary of the uprising, warning that “unlike other years, it is not safe.” However, they did confirm that an event would still take place.

The EZLN has called upon Mexican authorities and police forces to allow the caravan free passage, particularly once it arrives in Chiapas. The group also stressed that members of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center would accompany the caravan, to monitor human rights and security measures.

With reports from EFE and Sin Embargo

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