The Successes and Failures of the Zapatista Movement Essay

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The Successes and Failures of the Zapatista Movement

On January 1, 2004, over one thousand people in the mountain hamlet of Oventic, Chiapas, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) rebellion with song and dance. Thus, it seems a fitting time to take stock of the successes and failures of the Zapatista movement in the context of its original goals. While the EZLN has been able to establish thirty eight autonomous indigenous communities in Chiapas, it has failed to weaken the Mexican government's commitment to neo-liberal economic policies. In the following pages, we will explore those factors which enabled the Zapatistas to establish regions of autonomy and extrapolate from Theotonio Dos
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refusal to take money from the mal gobierno (bad government).? In addition, the Zapatistas have created five organizational centers (caracoles) and established Juntas of Good Government in each of them in order to ?resolve conflicts and disequilibrium between the centers and the outlying autonomies.? The caracoles mark the EZLN?s first success with regional, as opposed to municipal, autonomy. These Zapatista achievements can be attributed to the local terrain of Chiapas, restrictive legislation, and local and national scrutiny.
The Mexican government has faced legal and practical restraints on launching an all-out war on the Zapatistas. The first government counter-attacks encountered tactical difficulties in the jungles of Chiapas and the army failed to score a quick military victory. In 1995, the federal congress passed a ?law for dialogue,? which foreclosed the option of a unilateral show of force by the Mexican army in areas under Zapatista control. This legislation catalyzed the signing of the San Andrés Accords by the EZLN and the Zedillo government. The San Andrés Accords, as well as the inaccessibility of the jungles of Chiapas, made overt military action politically and tactically unviable. The EZLN?s national popularity and visibility also guaranteed its survival. Though the Mexican government maintained a

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