Zapatista Ideology and Demands


            The Zapatista “ideology” is hard to define in simple terms or catch phrases.  Furthermore, ideologies are usually connected to some sort of desire for power, whereas the Zapatistas are not seeking power for themselves but are merely seeking a just change in the power structure.  Rather, it is simpler and more useful to nail down some concrete influences, concerns, and demands the Zapatistas have.  However, if you are more comfortable with ideology catch phrases here are some helpful terms: nationalism, socialism, democratic, anti-neo-liberalism, equality, and dignity.  These are just words however, they do not make up an “ideology,” but they do represent key factors at work in the Zapatistas’ struggle in Mexico.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is nationalistic because it involves restoring pride and dignity in the indigenous populations.  Zapatistas are generally from indigenous populations because those are the populations being marginalized by the Mexican government.  Marcos invokes the long history of the Mexican peoples to give them a sense of identity and pride in that identity.  It is the government that is trying to destroy history and erase it to deny the poor peasants their dignity, their way of life.  Destroying the history of Mexico means destroying the poor indigenous peoples and without a history a country cannot have a future.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is socialist because it seeks to take back the land being exploited by the rich and powerful and give it back to the indigenous people to farm.  Such a large scale redistribution of land from the powerful to the poor can only be called socialist.  The indigenous live off of the land and can only continue their existence if they have the land to work with.  Continual marginalization and eventual nonexistence is the only path offered to the peasants by the government.  Redistribution of land will allow the peasants to live on in a real sense of the word “live,” not the horrible struggle for life under current conditions.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is for democracy because the Mexican government in power is not a truly democratic one.  The Mexican government is representative only of the powerful elite, not the indigenous poor that make up most of the country’s population.  It is a struggle for representation in a government that will truly address all of Mexico’s problems, not just those of the rich.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is one for equality because it fights for the representation it deserves in government mentioned above.  The struggle is also one for equality because it wants equality for everyone regardless of color, sex, ethnicity, sexual preference, or any other ways humans create borders between themselves.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is anti-neo-liberalist because it is firmly against the current system of exploitation caused by world economics.  The world market is subjugating the indigenous people of Mexico by taking the wealth generated in Mexico and spreading it in other parts of the world.  This globalization is destroying the indigenous population by taking up land to invest it in ventures that will be more profitable in world economies that further marginalize and attempt to destroy the poor peasants living on the land.

            The Zapatistas’ struggle is one of dignity because it is trying to preserve the history of Mexico by not allowing the destruction of the indigenous people.  The struggle is one of dignity because the Zapatistas do not rely upon arms as the most important weapon at their disposal.  A much more powerful weapon rests in the words, the continued resistance, and the refusal to simply disappear from the earth.


Information on this page is based on the writings of Marcos.


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