OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Myth and History in the nationalist rhetoric of the EZLN


Benjamin Shultz


On January 1, 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect with the espoused intention of opening trade relationships in North America. In Mexico City, the leaders of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional were celebrating this economic victory which they assured would bring about economic prosperity and wealth for Mexico. Yet while the PRI celebrated, the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, emerged from the Lacandon Jungle in the southern state of Chiapas and took control of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. Their demands focused on social and economic justice for the indigenous campesinos whose lands would be seized and privatized in order to meet the trading conditions specified in the NAFTA. However, the EZLN’s armed insurgency was short lived since by January 12th the Mexican army drove the insurgents back into the Lacandon Jungle. The movement is alive today and has acted as a catalyst for many other anti-globalization movements, including 1999 WTO protest in Seattle and the more recent Occupy Wall Street protests. In my presentation I will discuss the historical factors of the ideology of Neozapatismo and how it drew in supporters for the EZLN at both the national and internal level. This will include an analysis of how the EZLN utilizes both Indigenous and Mexican history, as well as national identity, to create a nationalist framework in support of their fight for international indigenous rights, and subsequently anti-globalization movements.

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