I am writing this from San Cristobal (sorry about “your snow”)
The significance writing from here is the Zapatista movement. It began here in San Cristobal and surrounding villages in the early 1980’s and after bringing in many villages,not by force but by democratic decisions, became a force right after NAFTA in 1994. NAFTA destroyed the lives of nearly a million individual farmers mainly because of the importation of cheap corn and other consumables.
The movement did begin with a fight where people were killed and injured but most of the villagers constantly called for truces and negotiations of which there were many during the following ten years. When the truces were broken it was nearly always on the side of the government. To best describe the ethos of the Zapatistas a spokesman responded to an offer of a pardon by the government following one of the truces in early 1994, which many intellectuals deemed it to be a magnificent and unanswerable statement of the movement.
“What do we have to be pardoned for?”
“For not dying of hunger? For not remaining silent in our misery? For not having accepted the gigantic historic load of hatred and abandonment? For having risen up in arms when we found all other roads closed off? For not having followed the Penal Code of Chiapas, the most absurd and repressive of our times? For demonstrating to the rest of the world that human dignity still lives and is present in its poorest inhabitants?For having prepared willfully before setting forth? For taking up arms instead of bows and arrows? For having learned to fight before we did? For being Mexicans, all of us? For calling for Mexican people to fight for what belongs to them? For struggling for freedom, democracy and justice? For not giving up? For not selling out? For not betraying the cause? Who needs to ask for a pardon and who can give it?”
As the movement grew it became recognized the world over as one of the most important human rights event of the last century.
From July 27 to August 3 1996 the First Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism was held in Chiapas. Individuals and delegations from all the continents attended. Forty six countries were represented from Iran to Japan.
The Zapatistas made it known that “ Behind us are you. Behind our face masks is the face of all women excluded,of all indigenous people forgotten,of all homosexuals persecuted, of all young people belittled, of all people imprisoned for what they believe, of all workers humiliated , of all who have died in oblivion. Of all the simple and ordinary men and women who don’t count,who are not seen,or named and who have no tomorrow.
The reason for writing of the Zapatistas is twofold: one I believe that because of them Chiapas and especially San Cristobal is one of the safest and most egalitarian places I have ever visited and two I also believe we Americans have the chance to begin a “Zapatista” movement of our own by electing Bernie Sanders. If you listen closely to him he espouses much of what the Zapatistas did. We of course do not have to take up rifles and sticks as they did but only to vote!