Chiapas: Indigenous rights vs. the free market

(Sebastião Salgado) Photo by Sebastião Salgado

On January 1, 1994, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed. The passage of NAFTA would eventually remove tariffs on most goods produced and sold in North America and exported between the three North American countries. The passage of NAFTA allowed corporations to buy land that belonged to indigenous people and use it to produce cheap exports. This put a strain on local farmers and merchants who had to compete with the new "cash crops." The same day that NAFTA was passed, a group called the Zapatista National Liberation Army (also called the EZLN or the Zapatistas) came out in armed rebellion against local and national authorities. The Zapatistas said that NAFTA was a "death sentence."

Bishop Samuel Ruiz of San Cristóbal de las Casas said that the Zapatistas were different from past guerrilla groups. He said: "They don't want to seize power. This is something new. They want to create a democratic process that all Mexicans take part in. They want recognition of indigenous culture, history and autonomy." The Zapatista movement in Chiapas seeks to establish a new kind of Marxist order. However, in today's free-market information age, a Marxist movement will fail due to inability to meet the demands of the people it claims to support.

Andrew Schamaun: I am a freshman at Brigham Young University. I am originally from New Mexico. I am doing this project for my freshman Engish 115 class. I do not have a dog or any other pets and I just recently broke both my wrists in a slam dunk contest. I told the doctors not to give me any pain medication...it was a poor decision. Hope you enjoy reading our work.

Loren Allred: I am a junior at Brigham Young University. I am originally from South Dakota. My interests include sports and the outdoors.

Morgan Charles: I am a freshman at Brigham Young University. I am from Arizona. I enjoy swimming, drawing, and learning. I have a roommate who is originally from Mexico. His family moved to Texas when he was eight. His name is Enrique. He was unaware of the Zapatista movement and was unable to answer many of my questions pertaining to this topic. I am the oldest of eight children.

The Group L to R: Andrew Schamaun, Morgan Charles, Loren Allred