Mexico: January 1, 2005


Eleven years ago today (on January 1, 1994) Mexico's Zapatistas (EZLN) launched their surprise attack on Mexican police stations in the southern state of Chiapas. The attack was both old-time gunfight and new age information war. The Zapatistas fought with faxes as well as axes and revolvers. The faxes went to news organizations around the world, and painted the rebellion as Mayan peasants versus the corrupt Mexican system (embodied by the ruling PRI party). The Zapatistas' photo were great, too, featuring Mayan peasants wielding hoes and "wooden weapons" (fake wooden rifles). The rebellion created a new leftist media hero, Sub-Commandante Marcos. He wore a mask and smoked a pipe. The Mexican military knew how to handle the rebellion. A Mexican brigade cut-off the EZLN's jungle hideouts and then sat there. Over time the armed rebellion fizzled out. PRI political opponents, both in the PAN and PRD, used the EZLN rebellion to push for political change. The biggest change was the election in 2000 of PAN candidate Vicente Fox, now Presidente Fox. So where is Sub-Commandante Marcos today? Marcos is writing a novel. Well, he's collaborating on a novel. Marcos is "trading chapters" with novelist Paco Ignacio Taibo II. A new chapter appears each Sunday in Mexico City's La Jornada newspaper. A US translator says the novelists promise to "expose evil in contemporary Mexico." Thought the EZLN's rebellion stalled and eventually sputtered, Marcos intends to remain a political force in Mexico.


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