Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 17 Team Log

Tragedy in Chiapas, Part 2 - Civil War

Revolutionary in ChiapasNew Year’s Eve, 1993 - The forests of the southernmost state of Mexico exploded. An army of thousands of poor farmers that had been secretly organized carried out numerous coordinated attacks against the government.

New Year’s Day, 1994 - People all over Mexico and around the world awoke to the news that the army of poor farmers had taken over 4 cities in that southernmost state known as Chiapas, including the capital.

While the news of this uprising shocked many people, it was a story that actually had been repeated many, many times for 500 years. We on the Mexico Trek team have had the privilege of writing to you about the Aztecs, but what we have not written of much was the many other groups of "indigenous people" (often called Indians) who have lived in the area that is now Mexico. There were many such groups, including the famous group, the Mayas, many of whom lived in the area where this uprising occurred, Chiapas.

We have also written of how when the Spanish came, especially in 1519, they conquered these many indigenous people so they could make themselves rich by stealing and forcing the indigenous to work for them. This is a great tragedy that has been continued by the people in power ever since as they continue to use the indigenous to only help themselves.

Well, there is a saying that "The Mayas were conquered, but never defeated." You see, the Mayas may have been beaten militarily, but they have never lost their independent spirit and for five hundred years they have continued to fight back in many ways. This recent uprising in Chiapas is perhaps the most famous.

Subcomandante MarcosThe army of indigenous people in Chiapas, mostly poor farmers, is called the Zapatistas. They are named after the leader in the Mexican Revolution, Emiliano Zapata, who represented the poor farmers and wanted to help make their lives better. The Zapatistas are fighting for some similar reasons, and some reasons that are different.

The Zapatista leader is a man known as Marcos. When the Zapatistas took over the capital city of Chiapas Marcos read a "Declaration of War." In it he explained why they are fighting. He also talked about the many times the Mexican people have fought against injustice and tried to create a better world. Here is part of it. See how many of the things he refers to you know about. (We’ve highlighted the ones we’ve covered in this Trek!)

Declaration of War, Lacandona Jungle, December 31, 1993


We are the product of 500 years of struggle: first against slavery, then during the War of Independence against Spain led by insurgents, then to avoid being absorbed by North American imperialism, then to promulgate our constitution and expel the French Empire from our soil, and later the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz denied us the just application of the Reform Laws, and the people rebelled and leaders like Villa and Zapata emerged, poor people just like us. We have been denied the most elemental preparation so that they can use us as cannon fodder and pillage the wealth of our country. They don't care that we have nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a roof over our heads: no land, no work, no health care, no food, no education. Nor are we able to freely and democratically elect our political representatives, nor is there independence from foreigners, nor is there peace nor justice for ourselves and our children.

But today, we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We are the inheritors of the true builders of our nation. The dispossessed, we are millions, and we thereby call upon our brothers and sisters to join this struggle as the only path, so that we will not die of hunger due to the insatiable ambition of a 70-year dictatorship led by a clique of traitors who represent the most conservative and sell-out groups. They are the same ones who opposed Hidalgo and Morelos, the same ones who betrayed Vincente Guerrero, the same ones who sold half our country to the foreign invader, the same ones who imported a European prince to rule our country, the same ones who formed the "scientific" Porfirista dictatorship, the same ones who opposed the Petroleum Expropriation, the same ones who massacred the railroad workers in 1958 and the students in 1968, the same ones who today take everything from us, absolutely everything…

To the People of Mexico:

We, the men and women, full and free, are conscious that the war that we have declared is our last resort, but also a just one. The dictators have been waging an undeclared genocidal war against our people for many years. Therefore we ask for your participation, your decision to support this plan that struggles for work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace. We declare that we will not stop fighting until the basic demands of our people have been met by forming a government of our country that is free and democratic.


General Command of the EZLN

December 31, 1993

Then there is another really interesting thing you should know about.

Don DuritoIt is the stories of "Don Durito." A 10-year old girl named Mariana sent Marcos a drawing. In return he wrote her several stories about a beetle named Don Durito. In the stories he wanted to teach her about why the Zapatistas are fighting. He also gave her the title of Subcommander Mariana.

You can check out the Don Durito stories for yourself on the web!


For more information on the Aztecs and Spaniards, use the calendar to see our previous reports!


For more information about the Zapatistas, visit:

Zapatistas in Cyberspace.
It has a list of links (with little photos next to each).

This has beautiful photos (so be patient if it downloads a little slow).

Documents of yhe New Mexican Revolution
Has a lot of good information – ALL TEXT and LONG.

Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Tragedy in Chiapas, Part 1 - Massive Flooding
Team - Tragedy in Chiapas, Part 2 - Civil War

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