Ten years ago, on January 1, 1994, a primarily indigenous rebel group, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), declared war on the Mexican government. It was the same day NAFTA went into effect.
From a brief history of the Zapatistas:
“The systematic brutalization of indigenous communities and the tight control of the political machinery that allowed for no democratic openings constitute the conditions against which the Zapatistas organized. NAFTA is a key factor, since it sells off Mexican sovereignty and further erodes the autonomy of indigenous communities. The institution of NAFTA was preceded by the repeal of Article 27 of the Mexican constitution, which protected communal land holdings from privatization, part of the victory of land reforms of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The Zapatistas have insisted that the further privatization of land means the death of indigenous cultures that are centrally determined by a collective relation to the land....
A key component of the Zapatistas’ uniqueness is that from the very beginning they have refused a vanguard role, calling out to different sectors of Mexican civil society to take up the struggle in their own ways.”
In February 2001, members of the EZLN began a march to Mexico City. The caravan included some of the oldest Zapatistas in the country who fought alongside of Emiliano Zapata at the beginning of the 20th century. Along the way they participated in the Third National Indigenous Congress with representatives of 40 of the 56 ethnic groups that live in Mexico. By the time the caravan reached Mexico City, it had grown to include several thousands of participants. [more]
While representatives of the EZLN addressed the Mexican Congress, in the streets, two groups of Mexican designers, Fuera de Registro and La Corriente Electrica postered the city in solidarity.
The posters were also distributed by email with the following statement:
“The EZLN has arrived to Mexico City.
To welcome them, to support the indigenous people claims, to demand peace with justice and dignity, we have produced these images. Help us to distribute them. Use, share, print the images. We need every one’s help to demand the Mexican Government the following conditions to re-initiate the peace negotiatons with the EZLN.
Mexico DF, March 2001.
Fuera de Registro, La Corriente Electrica.”
Rene Wanner has posted some images of the posters on his page, Zapata vive ! Mexican posters for peace in Chiapas.
“Fuera de Registro” is a pun which means “off register” in printing, as well as a person who can not vote because they are not registered.
Chiapas Indymedia has produced an audio documentary on ten years of Zapatismo.