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Neozapatismo or Neozapatism (sometimes mislabeled as Zapatismo) is the Mexican ideology behind movements such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The official anthem of Neozapatismo and the Zapatista territories is the Himno Zapatista. The ideology is based on Anarchism, Mayan tradition, Marxism,[1][2][3] the thoughts of Emiliano Zapata and the thoughts of Subcomandante Marcos. Neozapatismo is the ideology of the Zapatistas who govern a small territory in the Chiapas during the Chiapas conflict. Neozapatismo has no official founder but its thoughts are mainly attributed to Subcommandante Marcos and Emiliano Zapata. The Neozapatista ideology is believed to be derived from in total Libertarian Marxism, Libertarian socialism, Autonomism, Anarcho-syndicalism, Social anarchism, Collectivist anarchism, Anarchist communism, direct democracy, and Radical democracy.


Flag of the Neozapatista movement.


Emiliano Zapata, the man of which Neozapatismo is named after, was a strong Agrarianist in Mexico. He personally led rebels against the Mexican government in order to redistribute plantation land to the farm workers. Zapata began to protest the seizure of land by wealthy plantation owners, but his protest did not achieve his goal, so he turned to violence. This cause of redistribution was Zapata's true life's goal, he often symbolizes the Agrarianist cause in Mexico today.[4] The Zapatista Army of National Liberation have made similar Agrarianist demands such as land reform mandated by the 1917 Constitution of Mexico but largely ignored by the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party.[5] When negotiating with the government the EZLN did not demand independence from Mexico, but rather autonomy, and (among other things) that the natural resources extracted from Chiapas benefit more directly the people of Chiapas.

Libertarian socialism

Neozapatismo often relies of left wing economic theories. The most well known concept of Neozapatismo is its opposition to capitalist globalization. On the signing of the famed globalization promoting NAFTA treaty the Zapatista rebels revolted, believing the signing of the treaty to have a negative economic effect on the Indigenous peoples of Mexico. The signing of NAFTA also resulted in the removal of Article 27, Section VII, from the Mexican Constitution, which had guaranteed land reparations to indigenous groups throughout Mexico.[6]

The economics of the Zapatista occupied Chiapas is based on collectivism using the cooperative model with syndicalist aspects. The means of production are cooperatively owned by the public and there are no supervisors or owners of the property. All economic activity is local and self-sufficient, but products may be sold to the international market for fundraising purposes. The most famous examples of this model are the Zapatista coffee cooperatives that bring in the most income for the Zapatista movement.[7] Recently, the Zapatistas have been steadfast in resisting the violence of neoliberalism by practicing horizontal autonomy and mutual aid. Zapatista communities continue to build and maintain their own anti-systemic health, education, and sustainable agro-ecological systems.

Zapatista cooperatives are governed by the general assembly of the workers which is the supreme body of the cooperatives, it is convened at least once a year and elects a new administrative council every 3 years. Through their operation, the workers don’t depend on the local or global market. Through the collective organization and the cooperation with the solidarity networks at their disposal, the workers receive one price for their product or service that can cover the cost of work while also bringing workers a dignified income, which increases over the years. Workers may gain access to common structures and technical support. For as long as the cooperatives develop and improve their functions, they contribute some amount of their income to the autonomous programs of education, health, and to other social structures. Furthermore, the movements that participate in the fundraising solidarity networks of disposal return some amount of their incomes to the Zapatista communities.

Theory of capitalism

Subcomandante Marcos has also written an essay in which he claims that the neoliberalism and globalization constitute the "Fourth World War."[8] He termed the Cold War as the "Third World War."[8] In this essay, Marcos compares and contrasts his Third World War (the Cold War) with his termed "Fourth World War", which he says is a new type of war that we find ourselves in now: "If the Third World War saw the confrontation of capitalism and socialism on various terrains and with varying degrees of intensity, the fourth will be played out between large financial centers, on a global scale, and at a tremendous and constant intensity."[8] He goes on to claim that economic globalization has created devastation through financial policies:[8] These views are not shared by all Zapatistas but have influenced Neozapatismo and Neozapatista thinking.

Political organization

An image of the origins of the Neozapatismo idea.


Zapatista communities are organized in an Anarchistic manner. All decisions are made by a decentralized Direct Democracy in an autonomous manner. The original goal for this organization was for all the indigenous groups in Mexico to have autonomous government, today in the Zapatista territory the Mexican government has no control.[9] The councils in which the community may meet and vote on local issues in the Zapatista Chiapas are called the Councils of Good Government. In a Direct Democracy any issue may be voted on, any issue may be brought up to be voted on, and all decisions are passed by a majority vote. There are no restrictions on who may govern or who may vote. Since December 1994, the Zapatistas had been gradually forming several autonomous municipalities, called Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities (MAREZ). In these municipalities, an assembly of local representatives forms the Juntas de Buen Gobierno or Councils of Good Government (JBGs).

The Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities are run in various communities, the general assemblies meet for a week to decide on various aspects concerning the community. The assemblies are open to everyone, without a formal bureaucracy. The decisions made by the communities are then passed to elected delegates whose job is to pass the information to a board of delegates. The delegates can be revoked and also serve on a rotation basis. In this way, it is expected that the largest number of people may express their points of view.


Any military "commanders" with in the movement have no actual power, they may not force anyone to do anything. Military leaders only serve as revolutionary vanguards, to educate those unaware of the movement and to fight for the movement. Some "commanders" are simply spokespeople for the movement, some of the more famed spokespeople like Marcos, are only characters whose public statements are controlled and decided by the leading activists' consensus. If any soldiers of the Zapatista movement act in a brutal or unjust manner, the Zapatistas allow others to act against that soldier. No member of Zapatista forces has any real power.

Social concepts


Graphic design of a feminist Neozapatista flag; artistic concept.

Neozapatismo is a heavily Feminist philosophy. Women are viewed as equals to men and some women such as Comandante Ramona and Subcomandante Elisa were leaders in the Zapatista movement. In the 1990s, one-third of the insurgents were women and half of the Zapatista support base was women.

Even though feminism is seen as a result of Westernization, indigenous Mayan women have struggled to “draw on and navigate Western ideologies while preserving and attempting to reclaim some indigenous traditions...which have been eroded with the imposition of dominant western culture and ideology."[10] Indigenous feminism is invested in women's struggles, indigenous people, and look to their heritage for solutions while using some western ideas for achieving feminism.

Zapatista women are invested in the collective struggle of Nozapatismo, and of women in general. Ana Maria, one of the movement leaders, said in an interview that women "participated in the first of January(Zapatista Uprising)... the women’s struggle is the struggle of everybody. In EZLN, we do not fight for our own interests but struggle against every situation that exists in Mexico; against all the injustice, all the marginalization, all the poverty, and all the exploitation that Mexican women suffer. Our struggle in EZLN is not for women in Chiapas but for all the Mexicans.[11]

The effects of Western Capitalism makes flexibility in gender and labor roles more difficult than the indigenous cultures traditional labor. “Indigenous women’s entry into the money economy has been analyzed as making their domestic and subsistence work evermore dispensable to the reproduction of the labor force and thus reducing women’s power within the family. Indigenous men have been forced by the need to help provide for the family in the globalized capitalist economic system that favors paid economic labor while depending on female subordination and unpaid subsistence labor. These ideals are internalized by many workers and imported back into the communities.”[10] This capitalistic infiltration harmed Gender role, they were becoming more and more restrictive and polarized with the growing imposition of external factors on indigenous communities. Ever since the arrival of the Europeans and their clear distinction in the views of feminine home makers and masculine laborers.

Indigenous feminism also created more collaboration and contact between indigenous and mestiza women in the informal sector. After the emergence of the Zapatistas, more collaboration started to take place, and six months after the EZLN uprising, the first Chiapas State Women’s Convention was held. Six months after that, the National Women’s Convention was held in Querétaro; it included over three hundred women from fourteen different states.[10] In August 1997, the first National Gathering of Indigenous Women took place in the state of Oaxaca, it was organized by indigenous women and was attended by over 400 women. One of the most prevalent issues discussed in the conventions, was the relations between mestiza women and indigenous women. Oftentimes it became the situation where the mestiza women tended to “help” and the indigenous women were the one being “helped.”

The Zapatistas’ movement was the first time a guerrilla movement held women’s liberation as part of the goal for the uprising. Major Ana Maria[12]—who was not only the woman who lead the EZLN capture of San Cristobal de las Casas during the uprising, but also one of the women who helped create the Women’s Revolutionary Law,[13] ‘A general law was made, but there was no women’s law. And so we protested and said that there has to be a women’s law when we make our demands. We also want the government to recognize us as women. The right to have equality, equality of men and women.’ The Women’s Revolutionary Law came about through a woman named Susana and Comandanta Ramona[14] traveling to dozens of communities and to ask the opinions of thousands of women. The Women’s Revolutionary Law was released along with the rest of the Zapatista demands aimed at the government during their public uprising on New Years Day of 1994.

Women's Revolutionary Law

On the day of the uprising, the EZLN announced the Women’s Revolutionary Law with the other Revolutionary Laws. The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee created and approved of these laws which were developed through with consultation of indigenous women. The Women’s Revolutionary Law strived to change “traditional patriarchal domination” and it addressed many of the grievances that Chiapas women had.[15] These laws coincided with the EZLN’s attempt to “shift power away from the center to marginalized sectors."[16] The follow are the ten laws that comprised the Women’s Revolutionary Law.

  1. Women have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle in the place and at the level that their capacity and will dictates without any discrimination based on race, creed, color, or political affiliation.
  2. Women have the right to work and to receive a just salary.
  3. Women have the right to decide on the number of children they have and take care of.
  4. Women have the right to participate in community affairs and hold leadership positions if they are freely and democratically elected.
  5. Women have the right to primary care in terms of their health and nutrition.
  6. Women have the right to education.
  7. Women have the right to choose who they are with (i.e. choose their romantic/sexual partners) and should not be obligated to marry by force.
  8. No woman should be beaten or physically mistreated by either family members or strangers. Rape and attempted rape should be severely punished.
  9. Women can hold leadership positions in the organization and hold military rank in the revolutionary armed forces.
  10. Women have all the rights and obligations set out by the revolutionary laws and regulations.[17]


Zapatismo focuses heavily on Postcolonialism specifically postcolonial gaze. First referred to by Edward Said as "orientalism", the term "post-colonial gaze" is used to explain how colonial powers treated the people of colonized countries.[18] Placing the colonized in a position of the "other" helped to shape and establish the colonial's identity as being the powerful conqueror, and acted as a constant reminder of this idea of subjectivity.

The theory of postcolonial gaze studies the impacts of colonization on formerly colonized peoples and how these peoples overcome past colonial discrimination and marginalization by colonialists and their descendants.[19] In Mexico, postcolonial gaze is being fostered predominantly in areas of large indigenous populations and prejudice, like the Chiapas. The Zapatistas not only raised many arguments about the consequences of capitalist globalization; it also questioned the long-standing ideas created by the Spanish colonialism.

Cultural concepts

The Zapatista are famous for their armed revolt against globalization in their uprising, starting the Chiapas conflict. After the revolt the Zapatista controlled territory was mainly isolated from the rest of Mexico. The Zapatistas dislike the continuous pressure of modern technology on their people, preferring instead slow advancements.[20] Most of the locals speak in pre-Columbian languages indigenous to the area, rejecting the Spanish language's spread across the world.[21] The Zapatistas teach local indigenous Mayan culture and practices. Official Mexican schools are criticized as not teaching Mayan heritage or indigenous languages, while teaching of Zapatista evils and beating Zapatista children. In Zapatista schools the history of the Spanish colonization is taught with the history of the Tseltal, and the values of individualism, competition, consumerism and private property are seriously questioned and replaced with values like the community and solidarity.[22] Students are often taught in local indigenous languages such as the Ch’ol language. Although local's culture is held in a prideful light, the Zapatistas are quick to criticize and change culture to fit more leftist ideals. Women in the Chiapas region were commonly forced into marriage, birthed many children, and were told to stay home as home makers. The Zapatistas have attempted to end this tradition and create a sense of Feminism in the local community.[23] See above to read more about endorsed Anarcha-feminist concepts. Nozapatismo in general promotes any local culture as long as it does not impose itself onto another culture and if the culture is open to criticism.

Internationalist concepts

An image of Subcommandante Marcos with the Anarchist Communist symbol.

The Zapatista movement and its philosophy tend to not focus on international issues or concepts of international politics, but there have been some statements and opinions on the matter. The Zapatista movement backs the idea of Internationalism as a means to liberate the world from capitalist oppression as they try to do themselves. The Zapatista movement allows for cooperation with other similar movements and sympathizers worldwide, fundraising is often done outside of the Zapatista Chiapas.

The Zapatistas, specifically Subcommandante Marcos have made somewhat Anti-Zionist statements. Marcos has made statements in favor of the Palestinian peoples resistance and critical of the Israel's policies in Palestine. He claims that the Israeli army is an imperialist force attacking mainly innocent Palestinians.[24]

Subcommandante Marcos has made statements supporting Che Guevara and the policies of the Marxist Leninist Cuban government.

Activist philosophy

The Zapatista movement take various stances on how to change the political atmosphere of capitalism. The Zapatista philosophy on revolution is complicated and extensive. On the issue of voting in Capitalist Country's elections the movement rejects the idea of capitalist voting all together, calling for instead to organize for resistance. They neither ask for people to vote or not to vote, only to organize.[9] The Zapatistas have engaged in armed struggle, specifically in the Chiapas conflict, their reasons for so is the lack of results achieved through peaceful means of protest.[25] The Zapatistas consider the Mexican government so out of touch with its people it is illegitimate. Other than violence in the Chiapas conflict the Zapatistas have organized peaceful protest such as The Other Campaign, although some of their peaceful protests have turned violent after police interactions. It seems that violent protest is only just in Zapatista eyes if it was brought on by others or if their political targets are unresponsive to their peaceful protests.

See also


  1. "Morgan Rodgers Gibson (2009) 'The Role of Anarchism in Contemporary Anti-Systemic Social Movements', Website of Abahlali Mjondolo, December, 2009". Retrieved 2013-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Morgan Rodgers Gibson (2010) 'Anarchism, the State and the Praxis of Contemporary Antisystemic Social Movements, December, 2010". Retrieved 2013-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Zapatista Effect: Information Communication Technology Activism and Marginalized Communities"
  5. O'Neil et al. 2006, p. 377.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 The Fourth World War Has Begun by Subcomandante Marcos, trans. Nathalie de Broglio, Neplantla: Views from South, Duke University Press: 2001, Vol. 2 Issue 3: 559-572
  9. 9.0 9.1
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Hymn, Soneile. "Indigenous Feminism in Southern Mexico" (PDF). The International Journal of Illich Studies 2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Park, Yun-Joo. "Constructing New Meanings through Traditional Values : Feminism and the Promotion of Women's Rights in the Mexican Zapatista Movement" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Women in the EZLN#Major Ana Maria
  13. Women in the EZLN#Women.27s Revolutionary Law
  14. Women in the EZLN#Comandante Ramona
  15. Rovira 2000, p. 5.
  16. Rovira 2000, p. 6.
  17. Rodriguez 1998, p. 150.
  18. Said, Edward (1978). Orientalism. Vintage Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Lunga, Victoria (2008). "Postcolonial Theory: A Language for a Critique of Globalization". Perspectives on Global Development and Technology. 7 (3/4): 191–199. doi:10.1163/156914908x371349. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. SIPAZ, International Service for Peace webisite, "1994"