“Rebels without a cause”
1994 seems so long ago. So does the first Mexican shooting rebellion since the “Cristeros” (kree-steh-rohs) in the 1920s-30s that started January 1, 1994. It was the Zapatista (zah-pah-tees-stah) rebellion of the Tzotzil Maya, complete with ski-masks and a Communist leader.
The formal name of the rebel “army:” The Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
In reality, it was not Zapatista as 1910 rebel leader Emiliano Zapata never visited the state of Chiapas. He was from the state of Morelos and was not a Maya Indian…it was not an “army,’ it was a rag tag gang poorly armed with .410 shot guns…it was not “national” as no rebellion was sparked in Mexico…and, nothing was liberated as the rebels were confined to the Lacandon forest and some isolated villages that live like they did in 1491.
Most support for the Zapatistas was from international leftists, Communists and indirectly from a group of Americans that had one common denominator. It was labeled The “Halloween Coalition.”
In “El Norte,” American xenophobes had been slapped hard when Free Traders Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, Republicans both, successfully teamed up with New Democrat President Bill Clinton to approve the trade agreement of the century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Congress approved NAFTA despite racist-tinged opposition. The opposition was led by Chief American Xenophobe Pat Buchanan, and the slightly politically deranged hater of anything accomplished by a President George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot, and the well-known “civil rights leader” Jesse Jackson plus Labor’s AFL/CIO and its evil twin, the Teamsters Union.
Unbeknown to American and Mexican supporters of NAFTA was a band of vehemently anti-NAFTA “indigenous” people in the south of Mexico, the Tzotzil Maya Indians of the state of Chiapas. It borders Maya Guatemala.
Their leader was an international Communist former Sandinista revolutionary who gave himself the “romantic” nom de guerre, “Sub-Commandante Marcos.” A wannabe intellectual, his name was revealed by President Ernesto Zedillo, a real Yale University-trained intellectual in 1995.
Rafael Sebastian Guillen Vicente is his name. He was born in Tampico, Mexico, to immigrant Spanish parents. Guillen has not a drop of Indian/indigenous blood. He is 100 percent European who happened to be born in Mexico. Nonetheless, using tactics he learned in Sandinista Nicaragua he gathered around him a handful of low-information Indians. His followers came from the social, political and economic class level they were relegated to by 16th Century Spaniards.
His Indian followers were and are 100 percent Amerindian who practice 16th Century maize(corn) agriculture by slashing and burning jungle in the Lacandon forest in order to plant maize with little consideration for conserving the only rain forest in North America. Few speak Spanish; few are educated, few consider themselves Mexican; they are Tzotzil.
Sub-commandante Marcos led his ill-equipped, ill-prepared and totally untrained Indian peasants into open rebellion on January 1, 1994. The surprised Mexican government quickly mobilized its army and just as quickly they surrounded the Tzotzils and drove them into the Lacandon jungle where they have been since the January 12th, 1994 negotiated cease fire.
The national reaction to the Zapatista rebellion was widespread rejection. Two weeks after the rebellion broke out, this writer drove down to Ensenada, a million person port in Baja California 90 minutes south of San Diego to celebrate his January 15th birthday with great seafood. Wandering the streets of the Mexican sea port was illuminating for on every store window and glass door were signs “No Violencia!” – No Violence! The same in Tijuana. The Zapatista National Rebellion of Liberation was a national flop.
Sub-commandante Marcos has long since faded away and been replaced with Sub-commandante Moisés. He is quoted in Mexico News Daily as saying on this 22nd anniversary of the rebellion that Mexicans who did not rebel with his people are:
“…shattered, mortally wounded. By selling themselves out to bad government not only did they not resolve their needs but added more horrors to the hunger and the poverty. They still have [the latter] but now they have despair, too…The Zapatistas believe that we cannot trust the bad governments anymore, they are the servants of capital, stewards of big capitalist business…The one calling the shots is global capitalism, that is why we cannot believe them.”
No matter how hard history has been on Communists, their hard core believers like Sub-Commandante Moisés still believe but, he and they lose the historical argument.
With the ascension of free market capitalist Presidents in Mexico — President Vicente Fox (2000) and Felipe Calderon (2006) — who were elected as a reaction to the failed Zapatista Rebellion, Mexico became a statistically middle-class country that eliminated a huge cohort of poverty in a dozen years the likes of which had never been experienced in Mexico or in any Communist society.
There is a “dicho” in Mexico, a saying, that when a crab tries to climb out of a fisherman’s bucket other crabs pull him back…When Mexicans work to crawl out of poverty, they do not allow “liberation” poseurs – Zapatistas — to deter them.