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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Zapatistas voice their concerns about globalization

It has been more than 12 years now since that uprising on Jan. 1, 1994, when the Zapatistas, a group of people indigenous to the mountains in the southern-most part of Mexico, came out of the jungle and decided to make their voices heard. It is no coincidence that this was the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. This is truly an oppressed people’s movement, standing in opposition to the economic globalization that our corporate leaders hold so dear; and it thus holds many implications not just for Mexico, but for the rest of the world. It is therefore important for us all to show our support for their efforts in any ways we can.

Chiapas has consistently been the poorest and least represented state in Mexico, and the people of Mayan lineage have been pushed onto rocky, unfertile lands. It has probably seemed to the people living in this region that the capitalist leaders of Mexico, in their pursuit of “First World” status, have ignored their calls for equality.

Unfortunately for struggle towards true social justice at large, the Zapatistas originally decided to carry weapons and possess a militaristic approach towards the movement. This made the group’s efforts appear as yet another leftist guerilla uprising that must be defeated by U.S.-trained soldiers.

But it seems as though now, in 2006, the mysterious leader, Subcomandante Marcos, has taken on a less aggressive, but more political, diplomatic and peaceful approach to the conflict. The new strategy of Marcos is to travel to and speak in all of the Mexican states in the next 6 months, before the July elections. He hopes to make the electorate more aware of the opinions of Mexico’s indigenous population, whose voices often go unheard.

Should we all try to work with the Zapatistas here and then collectively bring an end to more than 500 years of oppression that indigenous peoples all over this continent have been subject to? The answer is a resounding “yes;” that is, unless we want to give these money-focused governments even more control over our lives.

I guarantee that those in the media can find many ways to discredit the Zapatista motives, but I am also quite sure that these people won’t stop until their opinions are truly heard and respected.

This movement is about the people: the poor, the colored, the women, and the white guys that say enough is enough. Marcos and the Zapatistas just want to be able to live comfortably on their own land. They are sick of seeing an elite group of rich white men rule and call it democracy.

This Zapatista movement has global significance. Call us that support it red, commie, socialist, heathen or unpatriotic if you must; but this just makes me think that those of you that disregard it are that much farther from reality.

It is not justice, democracy or freedom when a rich elite decides the fate of an entire section of the world. Take a look through your own eyes or through statistics, there are many more Latin Americans in the U.S. than before this movement began. Don’t you think NAFTA might have something to do with that?

As somewhat educated citizens of the U.S., we should support what the Zapatistas are trying to do as they travel through Mexico before this vital election. What happens in the land that borders our own should concern us. America is still only one continent; let us act as one and become more united.

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