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A Day in the Life of the Zapatistas

From: World Vision Report
Series: Stories from the World Vision Report
Length: 07:36

This weekend marks 100 years since the start of the Mexican revolution. It’s also the anniversary of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The Zapatistas staged a rebellion in the state of Chiapas in 1994. These indigenous peasants said they were fighting for equality and against exploitation. The Zapatistas were driven back into the jungle, but they still exist, in autonomous, self-governing settlements that boycott the Mexican government. Our Mexico correspondent Grant Fuller teamed up with reporter Myles Estey and got permission from Zapatista leaders to spend a day in one of their settlements.

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If you air this piece, please include a back announce saying "This piece originally aired on the World Vision Report." or "This piece came to us from the World Vision Report."

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Viva Zapata!

Lately news coverage from Mexico has focused on a new civil war. The conflict waged by drug lords against the Mexican government has overshadowed a long-term struggle between the working and wealthy classes south of our border. Ever since Emiliano Zapata led bloody uprisings in Mexico, the state of Chiapas, hugging the Guatemalan border, has been the epicenter of farmers struggling against oppression by well-heeled landlords, descendants of Spanish conquistadors.

As this piece makes amply clear, an indigenous sort of Marxist revolution continues to smolder in Chiapan villages like Juan Diego. Nearly 17 years ago an armed rebellion led by peasant guerillas forced the federal government to take up its own arms—and eventually step back. Today many children in Chiapas attend Zapatista schools, as opposed to educational institutions sponsored by the “bad guys” in Mexico City. At the moment President Felipe Calderon and the Mexican army have relegated the Zapatistas to the back burner. Embroiled in a full-blown civil war against narco-traffickers, the government is not about to give up when it comes to Chiapan insurgents. Whatever ultimately happens on that front, the Zapatistas have been largely tolerated as angry mosquitoes buzzing remote swamps.

World Vision Report continues to produce stories involving what Paul Tillich used to call matters of ultimate concern. “A Day in the Life of the Zapatistas” will interest everyone, from North American tea partiers to Colbert/Stewart coffee partiers, intent on charting the wobbly relationship of poor people and their distant central government.

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