The National Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN) is gaining some serious momentum in Southern Mexico, where they find their base of support. The movement has been simmering for about forty years, with various charismatic figures trying to whip up opposition to the constituted Mexican government. But all is not as it seems.
The armed uprising in 1994 failed and in 2002, the EZLN signed a type of peace agreement with then President Fox in Santa Ana, California. The agreement established 32 autonomous municipalities within the Mexican state of Chiapas and thereby, ended the conflict. Or that was the intention of the moment. I was there at the signing. In fact, it took place in the conference room in my office.
The National Zapatista Liberation Army is a communist movement that focuses on their assertion that Indians in Latin America have received less than they deserve because of globalization. Thus, their struggle is for social justice. They feel that the North American Free Trade Agreement is unfair (but never quite explain why that is). There is no question but what the Indians have received the "short end" of the deal when it comes to Mexican politics, but globalized trade would seem to have little to do with it.
Their leadership (guided by communists worldwide) came up with an interesting twist on traditional revolutionary movements:
...demand that the revolutionary armed forces not intervene in matters of civil order or the disposition of capital relating to agriculture, commerce, finances, and industry, as these are the exclusive domain of the civil authorities, elected freely and democratically.
Even though they are an armed revolutionary movement, they decided not to shoot at anyone. Therefore, they became a "peaceful revolutionary movement" and used that platform to gather support from NGO's which funded and sustained them over the past twenty years. From the early days, much of the advocacy for the revolution was carried out by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) arm of the Catholic Church. Historically, the Catholic Church has taken an interest in Indian affairs in Mezoamerica. Organizing and sustaining revolutionary movements has been a Jesuit specialty. In the case of the EZLN, they've kept the revolution running thanks to generous contributions from US Corporations -- the very same corporations that are their sworn enemies.
If the reader senses irony here, the reader is on point.
American corporations are solicited by the Society of Jesus to give Jesuits money to buy soap and Bibles and to provide the poor indians in Chiapas with an education. The money is then used to fund a few revolutionary leaders in a lifestyle that they had not enjoyed before -- and the Jesuit Brothers live a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds. A few dollars go to schools.
And what of the Maya and indigenous peoples of Mezoamerica?
Nothing ever changes for them.