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The Zapatista rebellion and Mexican reluctance to repress a dissident group

Mexican dirty wars, the disappearances of thousands, the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, the 1971 Corpus Christi Massacre, genocidal plans, kidnappings, tortures and mass graves: Mexico has a long and well-documented history of how it deals with those who rebel, speak out or protest against the government. The Zapatistas are a group in the state of Chiapas who decided to speak out in defiance. However, the fate they received was less harsh than those who had gone before them, or since. Why? On January 1st 1994, 3,000 Mayan Indian farmers including men, women and children became guerrillas and came down from the mountains in Chiapas and declared war on the Mexican government. They took several municipalities in Chiapas and barricaded themselves in there. The government responded by sending in the military, taking back the municipalities and trying to restore order. Twelve days later, the fighting stopped and a ceasefire was called. Why were the Zapatistas, poor indigenous farmers from the most southern state in Mexico, not brutally repressed like similar groups before them? This paper is a plausibility probe case study analysis of the Zapatistas, exploring potential hypotheses as to what caused the government’s treatment of them to differ from treatment afforded to other rebellions in Mexico. The Zapatista case appears to be a unique one in the Mexican context. This paper looks at the causes from different and interlinking angles. ‘Liberation technology’, political culture, historical timing and the political situation in Mexico, are all explored. The findings show that each aspect had its own crucial role to play, but that there was a definitive role for communication and technology in explaining the relatively benign treatment of the Zapatistas. Communication and ‘liberation technology’ allowed the Zapatistas to highlight their struggle and create a discourse that they were able to control. Mexico also has had a complex political relationship and history with the United States of America, and this appears to have had a significant impact on the treatment of the Zapatista during this period. Mexican political culture is strong and complex and has also played a defining role in the history of the Zapatistas.
Type of thesis
Whyte, H. (2018). The Zapatista rebellion and Mexican reluctance to repress a dissident group (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12543
The University of Waikato
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