By PJRC correspondent Alci
On December 21 tourists waiting for the end of the world instead found themselves witnessing the resurgence of the Zapatista resistance movement in Chiapas, Mexico. 40,000 masked members of the indigenous rebel movement marched through Chiapas in complete silence with no commanders of the movement making themselves obvious or prominent. The march was the Zapatistas’ first major public demonstration since May 2011, when they participated in protests against the Drug War in solidarity with poet Javier Sicilia’s peace movement.
This new act of civil resistance had a double meaning: The Zapatistas were commemorating 15 years since the notorious Acteal massacre, when 45 unarmed indigenous civilians were butchered by state-endorsed death squads; to remind the world of their organized existence just as the PRI party returns to power under President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Although he was not present at the march, the EZLN’s world famous but reclusive Subcomandante Marcos issued a communiqué that went viral online.
“Did you hear? This is the sound of your world falling apart. It is the sound of our resurgence. The day that was the day, was night. And night will be the day that will be the day. Democracy! Liberty! Justice!”
January 1 will mark 19 years since the Zapatistas rose up in arms in Chiapas demanding equality and social justice for Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Laura Carlsen wrote from Mexico City that the Zapatistas’ appearance was,
“…really heartening. We knew the base communities were still strong, and that a new generation of Zapatistas (there were so many women and children!) had been born and raised, but it was surprising to see how they could mobilize so many and in such a disciplined and moving way."
The return of the Zapatistas comes just as the Pena Nieto government begins to revamp the country’s federal police into a centralized force now under the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry of Public Security, a pillar of former president Felipe Calderon’s bloody drug war, has been shut down and even the top cop under his regime, Luis Cardenas Palomino, has resigned under suspicion of corruption. The trail of destruction left by Calderon’s tenure was made evident last week when the civic organization Propuesta Civica released data showing that under Calderon more than 20,000 Mexicans have disappeared, this is a chilling figure that rivals the numbers of disappeared under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile or Argentinean junta.
The PRI appears to be cleaning house to solidify its new mandate, though no actual fresh strategy for the Drug War is being offered. In this landscape the resurgent voice of the Zapatistas might resound louder and clearer than ever as a new year, and a new era begins.