Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let's Go Back - Who is Emiliano Zapata?

The Zapatistas got the name from the 1910 leader of the Mexican Revolution, Emiliano Zapata. He directly revolted against the ruler of the time, Proferio Diaz. Emiliano Zapata grew up in the small town of Anenecuilco, in the state of Morelos, Mexico, where his family raised cattle, and like their neighbors “they too lacked their own crop land and had to rent an unirrigated [sic] plot…[yet] the Zapata’s had their own house and were better off than [others].”[1] Zapata grew up in a placid and calm town; by the age of twenty he was about to take over as the head of his household after his older brother, Eufemino, went off and started his own family and his father died. At the age of thirty, Zapata took his first step in becoming a political activist by signing a petition, stating the living conditions of the people verses the landowners, along with 32 other men of his village. The petition was sent to Proferio Diaz, in support of his rival (or the man who would be running against him in the upcoming election), Patricio Leyva, as governor of the state of Morales. While it turned out that Leyva was only using the people as his footstool in order to gain control, he still promised many things to the masses in the small villages that they did not end up getting. This being one of Zapata’s first encounters with the government of Mexico and the way the politicians were, did not leave a good impression on the man.
In 1910, Emiliano was elected as the leader of his small town of Anencuilco. His first occupation was of the land that had been rented to his village by the neighboring hospital. Having seen some of the landowners set fire to part of a village because the villagers had not been able to pay their rent, it did not take much more convincing to get people to go along with him. After having to “cut through a bureaucratic red tape, [they were] repeatedly rebuffed by the hacendado[2] and state officials…[Zapata and his followers] began to farm [the land they had gained] with their rifles ready.”[3] Wile they were farming, a message concerning the occupation was sent to president Proferio Diaz, who ended up giving them the rights to the land. Even with this grant, there was the issue of Article 3, which stated that the government would take back the “immorally acquired” land and return it to the “original owners.”[4] While meeting with other leaders of nearby villages in March of 1911, they all “decided to join the Madero Rebellion” against the government and its injustice[5]. When the government officers shot the leader of the revolutionary movement of the south, Torres Burgos, Zapata took over and became “Supreme Chief of the Revolutionary Movement of the South.”[6] This shooting gave the people of the south another reason to rebel, Zapata gathered up the able people of the surrounding villages and the revolution began.
Even though Zapata lived almost one hundred years ago, his legacy still lives on in the hearts of those in southern Mexico, and it is easy for a person to understand why a revolution like the one in 1910 was just as important as the one that is going on today in Mexico. While the current revolution does not take place in the state of Morales, Chiapas is a state in the same shape Morales used to be. Even though Chiapas has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, it is also “a place where violence and protected crime thrive.”[8] It is unclear whether this crime originates from the government or the Zapatistas themselves for this violence, even though the source may be biased, there is no region that is without some violence.

Paul Hart, Bitter Harvest: The Social Transformation of Morales, Mexico and the Origin of the Zapatista Revolution, 1840-1910 (Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 2005), 187-188.

[2] People who run a housing development (or a plot of land)
[3] Hart 193-194.
[4-6] Hart 194.
[7-8] Subcomandante Marcos, "Prologue," in Our Word is Out Weapon, xxi (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001).

Start Again

Ok, sorry I haven't been updating at all or doing anything. Life happens.

However, as I said at the beginning of this blog, I put all my information from my project on Zapatistas into a paper.  The paper ended up being 16 pages long, after I cut out quite a bit and had to rearrange everything to fit just right. I got a 90% on the paper, which is not bad at all. So thanks for that Mr. Zarwell!!

I hope that I can now continue with some study even if it isn't always about Mexico and the Zapatas. There are so many interesting things that are going on in today's world that it is getting hard to keep up with all of them!

This up coming year I will be heading off to college, at St Olaf in Minnesota. There I plan on studying Spanish and psychology, until something else catches my eye. :P Anyways, I al also part of a class/group called American Conversations. This class goes over current American happenings as well as discussing what it really means to be an American. Laugh all you want, but this is going to be a fun year!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not Just In Mexico

Parts of the Zapatista movement and their symbols have carried on throughout the world and have been used by the people there. For example, during the 1999 revolt in Seattle, Washington against the World Trade Organization (WTO), along with carrying signs for the Zapatistas and their cause in Mexico, the protesters used bandanas over their faces in order to escape the tear gas. During the past two days, our history class has watched a documentary called "This Is What Democracy Looks Like", an entire documentary on the riots in Seattle and what happened there according to the protesters.

There is also the use of simply Zapata in several movies, one being Ocean’s Thirteen (one of my personal favorites), a story about a group of thirteen people who plan on robbing a casino and ruining the owner’s life. Part of this story takes place in Mexico, where the dice used in the casino are made. The workers there start a protest to raise their wages up 5% to $3.50 a week. The group decides that they can just easily write out a check for the $36,000 that would be required to increase the salary of all the workers. While this does not impact the plan that they crew is going through, it still sticks out to show that because they could simply write a check for that amount of money, that Mexico should not be has helpless as it seems, and that foreign help would be appreciated and would be used as it should be used.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Problems in the South

There are many times in which the issue of Mexico ends up connecting with the issues in the United States. For example, when it comes to illegal immagrants, drugs, violence, political unrest causing people to flee, Mexican military actions, as well as the problems that have developed between the government and its people.

When the issue of Mexico comes up in political terms, most people tend to consider the issue about the illegal immagrants who now make their homes in the United States, when in the view of many, they have no right to be there. People go so far as to say that they are the reasons why the crime rate in the Untied States went up so much, and that the unemployment issue has to do with this. While this may be true, the problem would have a better chance of being solved if people would stop complaining and would instead help with the problem and try to find a way of getting through this without killing more people than is absolutely necessary.

Yet, not all of Mexico's problems have to do with immigrants, there are also, just like any other place in the world, the problems of drugs and violence. The drug and crime rate in Mexico may not be going up drastically, but it is still not going down by any stretch. Looking at the problem of poverty in the states of Mexico, there is to problem that many see as being what one might call in a state of emergency. There are peole who are living out of tarps everywhere or who don't have homes at all, but this is not what the rest of the word focuses on.

What do we focus on?
Why is it not what seems to be more important to us?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is the Zapatista Movement Achieving its Goals?

While many eyes have been on the Zapatista movement against the government, what people aren't noticing is what they are actually fighting for: the citizens of the poorest state in Mexico. What has been expressed by many is that they people are struggling more now than they have ever before. For many of these southern families, living now is not any easier than it was before the 1994 Zapatista uprising. In fact, many former Zapatista supporters are beginning to accept help from the government, which they had formerly been fighting against. Since people are only willing to pay a certain amount of money per object, which causes the provider to only recieve an even smaller amount. The Mexican government came in and started to offer money to the farmers in order to allow them to better educate their children and to build houses that will be able to hold the number of occupants that are needed to be held. Because of this, many people have gone against the Zapatista movement and are doing better than they had been doing before.

Why is the government suddenly helping the citizens? Is it because of the Zapatista movement that they are helping others?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


During our Global Studies class we we given a book, Safe Area Gorazde to read over the span of a week. Even though reading is something that has proven not to be difficult for anyone in the class, this book was different. When we read this book, the reality of what has been happening in this world without us knowing really started to sink in.

As Dorctor Alija Begovic, the director of Gorazde's hospital stated "I can't understand why the rest of the world hadn't intervened more forcefully. The U.N. is always pointing out its neutrality, even now." This "now" that Dr. Begovic talks about is the early 1990s. From the years 1992-1995, the Muslims of the country Sarajevo had been brutally attacked by the Serbs, many of whom used to live there. The people who manage to get out of Sarajevo end up in Gorazde, a place that is full of refugees and injured people.

The images from this war and these attacks are truely some of the most grusome pictures that anyone has seen. The hospitals were opperating without any anesthetics, without enough bandages, and without much help from experienced nurses or doctors, and no surgens. Dr Begovic said that the first leg he had removed was done with a kitchen knife after giving his patient little morphine and some brandy. There are children who are being killed without any reason, other than the fact that they are not Surbian.

This is an issue that needs to be known through out the world, but isn't. Something that went on without anyone doing anything, the country recieved little foreign aid.

Is this the kind of world that we live in?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

6 to 200

James Harding wrote a work called "Counter-Capitalism: Globalization's Children Strike Back", this information is from his work. Even though the student talked aboout is not him, he makes his point quite clearly. In the early 1970s junior high student tried protesting, but gave up when he went off to college and started partying. Yet it wasn't until he traveled to Nigeria while working on a doctorate in African literature, that he found what those protests may have been for. "I met writers at the university there who did not have enough money to buy their own books." He decided that something had to be done about this. Returing to the US, he became involved with a group called 50 Years is Enough, "a coalition put combat the World Bank and the International Monitary Fund." Originally drawing support from a mere half a dozen organizations and groups.

Thanks to more support, 50 Years is Enough now draws support from more than 200 organizations.

The group later created the "largest petition in history, gathering 234 m[illion] names". There hasn't been this much interest in political involvement since the Vietnam War.

Over all the political involvement of many countries has surpassed even their voter turnout.

Is it Impossible?

Many words have become the new insignas for a new time after the Cold War, words such as "free trade" and "neoliberalism". The main goal being to create the ideal humanity, to "materialize the most cherished dreams of humankind, dreamed by the few of the many." Trying to make sure that everyone can get everything that they ever wanted, if they knew it or not. Two authors, Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash, point out that none of these new ideas will go without a doubt. the come up with the example of the famous Bill Gates and his Windows program: "even the most enthusiastic fans...experience misgivings and doubts when they observe the peculiar behaviors of their children" after having been exposed to so much computer life. No one can ignore the social and mental influences that this is having on the human population, not to mention the younger generation. Seriously, right now, if you are reading this, you are on the computer (since it IS an online blog) when you could be reading this book instead of reading my thoughts on it. Media has been one of the most influential things in the human world.

One concept that Esteva and Prakash really thought about was the saying "think globally, act locally." While people may have this a popular t-shirt slogan for Earth Day, when everyone is thinking green; it is also s symbol about what people around the world are thinking now. They state in words, "ordinary people lack the centralized power required for "global action." It is a warning against arrogance, the far-fetched anddangerous fantasy of "acting globally."" Many people make themselves think that by donating even a little bit of money to a cause is something that can be considered global. But what amny people don't reolize is that it takes more than just a little bit of cash to halp people around the world.

A second issue that Esteca and Prakash bring is is how global thinking is impossible. The only way that a person can actually know the Earth, is by "reducing it statistically", which apparently many people attempt to do. What people can't do is accept that people think that the world is something that will be able to fix itself, or that it is the preoblems of a person who is not them to fix what has happened to the world. But what people need to understand is that it is everyone's fault that the world is as it is. It isn't just the fault of the people in those countries that are having the problems with the world, it is the fault of all the people of the world, who didn't do anything when it comes to helping everyone else.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In Rebellion against Neoliberalism

Subcomandante Marcos gave a speach to "men, women, children, and elders from the five continents who have responded to the invitation of the Zapatista indigenous to search for hope, for humanity, and to struggle against neoliberalism." He implies that people seraching for Power are not human beings, but have created a world where there is "no room for human beings" Nor for hope much less for tomorrow. The world that we have known to be founded and run by the working people is no longer in existance in many rich countries, all we need is to think that we are going to be able to make money and we can. The entire world is run by the idea that they can get rich, we fight wars to ge rich, we commit crimes to get rich, while millions upon millions of people are considered less and less of a person because of who they are. People like homosexuals, women, children, natives, people of color, people of a different religion or a different country. "[T]he currency of their blood turning a profit."
Marcos blames Neoliberalism for causing the severe separation of parts of each country into several different countries with their own views on everything. Many of the ideas of neoliberalusm have become quite contoversial subjects for discussion. One such issue is the enitre deal with nuclear armamaent; this "stupid course" is "destined to annihilate humanity in one blow". The entire world is now obcessed with the militarization, which is abusrd in every life of the national society. "National governments are turning into the military underlings of a new world war against humanity."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Counterhegemonic Globalization

Peter Evans defines counterhegemonic globalization as being "the growth of transnational connections [that] can potentially be harnassed to the construction of more equitable distrbutions of wealth and power". The people who have joined such transnational connections, mostly different social movements, has grown quite a lot since 1973. Their vision: "another world is possible." Evans gives the examples of three broad movements: labor, women's, and environmental.

Starting with labor movements, Evans brings up different movements that have occured in the Southouthern parts of the world as well as in the Northern parts. He brings up a Volkswagen factory in Brazil, the biggest VW factory, which had witnessed its very own workers' strike, when workers refused to work, "trying to reverse job cuts". The president of the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (The Central Guild of Workers) for VW went straight to the head of the issue, and was able to bypass the management in Brazil by talking directly to those people at the VW's world headquaters. He was able to produce an agreement and people got their jobs back. A more global example is that of a UPS strike in 1997, when UPS was "seen as representing the intrusion of the "American Model" of aggressive antiunion behavior, coupled with the expansion of part-time and temporary jobs with low pay and benefits adnthe use of subcontracting." The strike against UPS went as far as soem European Unions who also felt that by joining forces with the American strikers, that it might be easier and morlikely to accomplish their goals. During modern days, there aren't many people who are employed in a union anymore, even though times change, it is still possible for the world to try and come together.

Due to this new globalization, the transnational women's movement has been brought forward in the order of social movement orgaizations. While the women's movement has been quite like the labor movement, in working with the issue of human rights, it also has more difficulty with the "contradictions of building politics around the universalistic language of rights." Evans points out that although many people have seen that good things have come out of the femanists' movement, that the UN was still scrutinized for playing with these women. By making it seem like everyone was equal, they didn't actually go along with what they said. While women have more and more rights in the United States, other countries aren't quite the same way. The development of a new organization in places such as India, South Africa, Turkey, and other countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, called the "Self-Employed Women's Association" (SEWA) has become an intricate part of many cultures and governments.

Environmentally, though it is not something that markents may not resolve, but is instead left up to the people. Like the women's movement, the environmental issue is "private" and "therefore not a appropriate target for collective political action". One of the biggest issues here is because there are different types of issues: ones that seem global (global warming) and the other ones that are more local (spread of a virus in a local community). While there problems are far from solved, "the global environment is usually considered among the most successful og the transnational social movements." This may be because there are many political aspects of our lives that are affected by the environmental issues that our world is facing or has faced or even will face in the future.

Quotations taken from "Counterhegemonic Globalization: Transnational Social Movements in the Contemporary Political Economy" by Peter Evans

Monday, January 26, 2009

Skateistan - a Positive Step in Afghanistan

I know that this isn't about my usual topic, but I found it interesting anyways.

While I was reading the New York Times today, I came across an article that cought my attention. This article was titled "Diversion from Desolation". The article talks about a man named Oliver Percovich, from Melbourne, Australia, who plans on opening the first skateboarding school in Afghanistan this spring, called (believe it or not) Skateistan. He desccribes how he is the "servant" who helps the "teenagers [who] are trying to dissociate themselves from old mentalities". This kind of an act goes further than just giving a kid a skateboard, as one little girl says, "It gives me courage, and once I start skating, I completely forget about my fears." While this girl will only be able to skateboard until she reaches puberty, she is still able to enjoy the time she has skateboarding. With the help of Percovich, many children in Kabul, Afghanistan are able to try something new and distract themselves from their war-filled lives.

Percovich believes in the idea that positivity can change a child's life, and he is going off of this philosophy to prove to people that the world can be changed even if it is only one skateboard at a time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Disappointment in Presidents

When Subcomandante Marcos gave a speech in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas this past week or so, he warned that Americans may be more disappointed in the new president-elect Barack Obama than they thought they would be. Marcos states that Obama "also supports the use of force against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." Whether this is true or not, it is nearly impossible to say, since Obama has not given his own take to what Marcos has said.

In an article written before Christmas, called "All I Want For Xmas is...." one of the sections talks about Mexico, mentioning the Chiapas revolution. Yet this is not the only area of the world that is having issues at the moment. This list includes: the United States, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paying for Silence

The Mexican government has been trying to repress the Zapatistas and their followers ever since they first came out to the public in 1994. Their first attempt was to start paying "charity" to the families who are members of a political party in order to try and gain their silence in the condition of their countries. The government tried to take the basis of the Zapatista's support and snatch the support as their own. Some of the municipalities that have recieved this "charity" are the same ones who have not had an improvement on their level of development this entire time. Unfortunately, many people have "fallen into these evil government traps" and have stopped supporting the Zapatista cause.

This trap that the govermnent has set is something that seems to ring true throughout the world, not only in the Maxican world. The difference between what others do about it and what the Mexican people do about it is that they try to stop it. There is not really an equivalent to this group in the United States, nor in many other countries. Mexico is able to stand up and object to what it finds wrong. DOes this set them appart? Or does it just make them more anti-authority like?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Can we save a child in Israel?

El Periodico de Mexico recently published an article in which Subcomandante Marcos calls the attack on Gaza by Israel a "classic war of conquest". He talks about how much he sees in how the people of Gaza are sturggling. "For the government of Israel" he says "these men, women, children and elders are the enemy soldiers and the houses, huts and buildings where they live are the headquarters that need to be destroyed." Yet, how the rest of the world seems to know that they are nto soldiers but innocent people. He asks if there is anything they can do to save just one child, a rehitorical question, he answers it. "We think so." If no bomb is dropped by us, we don't kill anyone and that is one less bomb to be dropped on these poor people who haven't done anything wrong but live.

What happens anywhere in the world affects the whole rest of the world. Mexico is dealing with preoblems of its own at home, but the leader of this revolutionary group is taking the time to ask if he can save one child in a foreign land where he has never been. He still finds time to be concerned about the worlds where he has not been and most likely will not travel to in the near future, if ever.

A recording/message of Marcos' speach about the attack on Gaza.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


For those of you who have never heard of the Zapatista movement, here is some background information about how it started and what has been going on.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army: The voice that arms itself to be heard.

The New York Times has named the Zapatista movement as the first "post-modern revolution". Led by the "suave, pipe-smoking, balaclava-clad Subcomandante Marcos", pictured below. BBC News calls him "the charismatic guerrilla", Marcos is known for his black face mask and his pipe. Marcos made his name in Mexico after the uprising on January 1, 1994, when the Zapatistas came out ane revealed themselves to everyone around.

The Zapatista movement starts in Chiapas (the southern most state in Mexico) and is working to expose to the rest of the country just how impoverished the people there are. But this movement has captured not only the attention of the Mexican community, but also that of the international community. European countries as well as many others have made notes of what is going on there, the New York Times has had articles on it, the latest from December 9, 2008.

This uprising occured when the Zapatista National Liberation Army rose up against the Mexican govemnent, taking up arms and marching for 15 days from their jungle in Chiapas to the heart of Mexico City. Leaving February 24, 2004.

While the Zapatistas did take up arms and weapons for this uprising, they stated "We did not take up arms to gain a political post or office or soem other important place. We rose up in arms because we would not die forgotten. So that people will hear our demands adn not forget that in this corner of Mexico, live meany indigenous who have been abandoned for many years."

As one would guess, Sucomandante Marcos and his Zapatista followers are quite popular throughout Chiapas. The people living in Chiapas support completely what the Zapatistas are trying to do. There are entire stores in the marketplaces that are completely devoted to the Zapatistas and the movement. Marcos is even being compared to and noted as the next Che Guevara. While this may seem strange and unlikely to many people out of Mexico, it is quite obvious when one sees the t-shirts, Marcos dolls and many different posters that are found in Mexican shops.

There are a few videos on YouTube, were Subcomandante Marcos was interviewed. There are 1, 2, 3 parts. In this order

Day One

This is the first blog I've done myself.

For Global Studies, we have to make a blog, so here is mine.

This past summer, I traveled to San Cristobal, Chiapas and visited with some people down there. One night we went out to dinner at a fairly nice restaurant, there was live music and the food was quite good. The restaurant was open, with different, little shops surrounding it. One of these shops really caught me attention. It was a store devoted entirely to the Zapatista movement. At the time I had no idea what it was, so I asked one the people we were staying with and he explained a little bit about the movement. I decided that I wanted to learn more about it, so I did.