Zapatista Army of Liberation (EZLN) occupies towns in Chiapas

January 1, 1994: Zapatista Army of
Liberation (EZLN) occupies towns in
Chiapas, Mexico
Social Protests Against Global
Public Demonstrations
Worker Strikes
Religious and Social Movements
Historical Parallels?
1789-1848 “Age of Revolution”
1830-1930 series of rebellions in Europe
(Charles Tilly)
Example of our own experience
Civil Rights Movements (constitutional,
Action Against Discrimination
(religious, gender, ethnic)
Militia movement
Religious activism (morality)
Role of Global Capitalism—
transformation of production,
exchange & technology has
produced tremendous
improvements in the quality of
life for a significant part of the
world population
Benefits are Unequal
loss of land by farmers and peasants
conversion to intermittent wage labor
reduction of wages
eradication of culture
environmental degradation
oppressive conditions for children
What leads to revolt?
Functional models—order is the normal
state of society; disorder can be attributed
to marginaliztion of certain sectors of
society (the poor, ethnic groups, etc.)
Conflict and crisis are inherent in capitalism
protests are natural consequence
not spontaneous but organized, directed activity
of those with common interests
movements may become violent, but violence is
usually initiated by authorities
Indigenous people (5% of world
populations composed of different
ethnic or racial groups
descendants of the earliest
populations which survive in the area
do not as a group control the national
defined in relationship to the state
Characteristics of Indigenous People
Mobile—cross boundaries important to
the state
Community ownership of resources
Kin-based social structures
Relatively egalitarian—reduced
emphasis on consumption, marking
status with possessions
Control land valuable to the state
State actions towards indigenous
people—transfer of resources from
indigenous people to state
sponsored settlers (John Bodley)
Pattern of Intervention
Exploit ambiguity of
border situations
Military intervention
Extension of
government control to
break local political
direct rule
indirect rule—exploit or
create local leaders
base camps system—
relocate, integrate into
trade networks
Land policy—regulation,
alienation, individual
Cultural modification
Education (require or
integration into national
economy, taxation, cash
Example 1
Malaysia and the Weapons of the Weak
Research of James Scott (1985)
Weapons of the Weak
Focus on violent protest obscures
everyday resistance
Subtle actions enable poor and weak to
resist rich and strong
Embodied Actions
Malaysian Green Revolution
1966: World Bank funds Mudra
irrigation project on Kedah Plain
Peasants are able to double the
harvests, extend irrigation to new land
Production doubles, Unemployment
reduced, Profit grows from 10% to 18%
Village Benefits
Infrastructure, markets, personal
Poorest peasants able to produce
enough for families
Infant mortality and malnutrition
reduced by 50%
Debt managed, small landholders
maintain land
Social Structure Changes
Increased differentiation between rich
and poor
Social response to poverty changes
Modern management erodes traditional
practices, obligations
Loss of cash from labor exchange
Erosion of non-market cultural relations
(gift-giving, feasts, etc.)
Interpreting Change
Double cropping and increased yield makes
land more valuable
local peasants cannot pay rent
rich peasants keep and utilize land once rented
because of profitable returns
rend due in advance, discounts not negotiated
Wealthy farmers have access to new
technology—less peasant labor necessary
Gift giving and charity from rich decreases—
obligations ignored—“the freedom of the
unemployed and redundant (Scott)”
Resistance (Scott)
Any acts by members of a subordinate
class that are intended to mitigate or
deny claims (rents, tax, prestige) made
on that class by superordinate classes
(landlords, large farmers, state) or to
advance its own claims (work, land,
charity, respect) vis-à-vis those
superordinate classes
Cultural models—folktales, performances
emphasize evasiveness and cunning
“Work the system to their minimum
Gossip and Character Assault
Theft (seen as substitute for charity)
Collective refusals
Zapatista Rebellion
Obstacles to Resistance…
Who sets the limits?
Velocity—is there time to respond?
Can the protest be heard?
Will hearing produce a response?
Understanding the Moment
January 1, 1994: Mexico’s entrance
into NAFTA
“NAFTA was the death certificate of the
indigenous peoples of Mexico”
—Sub-Commandant Marcos
Why Zapata?
Emiliano Zapata
Revolution of 1910—move to
reestablish communal land holding
Earlier loss of peasant land
Juaraz gives individual title to land—soon
lost to peasants
Diaz (1876-1910) sells huge tracts to
investors to attract capital
Southernmost state in Mexico
Poorest State
Highest malnutrition, illiteracy rates
20% population has no income
40% has an income less than minimum
Small number of wealthy families dominate
economy and politics
History of Repression in Chiapas
During revolutionary era, local private armies
maintained control through terror
1916-Federal Army repelled by Chiapas
militias, land reform stifled
1993-land held by 6000; 2 million peasants
Rigid control by ruling PRI—Mayan
community repeats hierarchies
Dissent suppressed by vigilantes
The Crisis Intensifies
Mayan farmers resettled in deforested
No title to land—harassed by vigilantes
Protestants harasses by Catholic
Modernization projects (dams, oil
drilling) yield uneven benefits
Causes of Poverty
Communally held land can be sold
(Constututional Change)
NAFTA approved
Decline of agricultural subsidies for poor
Need for peasant agriculture rethought as part of
restructuring debt (1982)
Fertilizer subsidy removed
Coffee price supports removed
Zapatista Tactics
Struggle over legitimacy—Zapatistas
subvert gov’t authority by using rhetoric
of the revolution
Traditional appeals
Use of technology (internet, media)
Responses to the Zapatistas
Government Restraint—military response
prevented by media coverage
Global financial community—Zapatatistas are
a hazard to confidence in Mexican markets
and must be removed
Can government financial aid reach the
Danger of vigilantes—1997 massacre of 45
Zapatista sympathizers
Zapatista Information