La Lucha Sigue! (The Fight Continues)

Due to a lot of interest and support for the subject matter, I have written a short essay summarizing some valid points made in my dissertation and removed those that weren´t. My final paper at Edinburgh Napier University was on the appropriation of communication and organization as a means of mobilizing the people against injustice and political corruption. This study led me to the Zapatista movement in Mexico and their collaboration with autonomous movements such as Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group who together reflect and resist against the global order of neo-liberalism.

I credit everyone that has gone to the effort of reading this essay with the understanding of such terms but will give a brief explanation of the structured implementation of the ideology now labeled ´neo-liberalism´.  Not to be confused with the bullet dodging, computer geek turned messiah in The Matrix, neo- liberalism looks good on paper; foreign investors, privatization of state enterprises, redirection of public spending, trade liberalization, deregulation and so on.

Neo-liberalism is relatively new, hence the use of neo, 25 years or so, but the ideology of free trade and competitive advantage is certainly not. Whether we call these economic policies capitalism, neo-liberalism or globalization, the theme always follows colonial administration methods of western ideologies along with the plundering of minerals and wealth. The effects of this market maneuver I am sure we are all more than accustomed to … the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The seed of neo-liberalism was sewn throughout South America, a common testing ground for oppression and cultural homogenization, but before this seed was allowed to evolve something organic emerged from the jungles and mountains of Chiapas. On January 1st 1994, the day in which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would take effect and as the global corporations slept off another New Year celebration, an unknown military organization descended from the south eastern jungles of Mexico and into the towns of the provincial area of Chiapas. The city of San Cristobal de las Casas was captured and held under the demands of autonomony[1] against violations of human rights and the economic and agricultural exploitation of the indigenous peoples in Chiapas. The Zapatista Army of Liberation (EZLN) had formed 10 years earlier out of the suffering of the indigenous peoples inMexico. The group of sympathizers chose the dense jungles of Chiapas to train the peasants and farmers, forming a guerilla movement under the blue print of previous revolutions.

The EZLN compared the colonial enterprise of extracting natural resources at the expense of the indigenous to a major war and initially declared an armed resistance to the Mexican government if the rights of the indigenous people were not reinstated. It is the destruction of Central America´s natural resources that will result in the fragmentation and disappearance of the people´s culture. The restoration of this process becomes the primary objective of the EZLN; to stop the advance of the Neoliberal economic system in Chiapas.

Chiapas is the eighth largest state in Mexico and is one of the richest states in terms of natural resources. It produces 55% of Mexico´s hydroelectric power, 21% of Mexico´s oil and 47% of it is natural gas. Chiapas produces more coffee than any other region in Mexico, is the country´s second largest beef producer and is one of Mexico´s most important suppliers of fruits and vegetables. Despite living under one of Mexico´s wealthiest natural resources, 70% of the people of Chiapas live under the poverty line. The majority of the poor are indigenous Mayan peasants.

Large mining companies like First Majestic Silver Corp and Goldcorp occupy sacred Mayan sites in Guatemala and the mountains of Catorce, polluting their water regardless of public opposition. The World Bank and The World Water Forum (sponsored by Coca-Cola) want to privatize water in Mexico “so the poorest have access to water under price conditions that are acceptable.”[2] The people of Mexico strongly believe that water is a right and not a commodity. The proposed construction of La Parota Dam in Guerrero, Mexico will displace around 30,000 indigenous people, destroy 17,000 hectares of jungle and leave 36 towns buried under water. The capitalization of the Mesoamerican biological corridor will allow pharmaceutical companies to ´classify species´; log the chemical components of this biodiversity and create gene banks. The only people who benefit from these proposals are the corporations themselves, the local communities will have their natural resources taken away from them and the knowledge passed down from generation to generation lost in time. Tourism contracts in Chiapas and Colima have set proposals that exploit indigenous land for corporate jungle trails and hotel complexes. The Mexican government stands to make billions in an attempt to repay the debt it has with its North American neighbor with the proposed Project Mesoamerica (previously marketed as the Plan Puebla Panama)[3] . Project Mesoamerica is a massive infrastructure that will literally bulldoze its way through Mexico, Central America and Columbia in order to advance this civilization with tourism, highways, factories and energy extracting corporations. The message is clear; lost cultures are not preserved anymore just exploited for our own economic gain.

This political ideology can also be interpreted as controlling a nation under the rule of  sovereignty; that is making, executing and applying a legal system foreign to the indigenous, buying and selling resources that belong to the people, imposing and collecting taxes, and implementing these strategies through war and peace. Marketing genetically modified crops and abandoning traditional agricultural methods to make way for the ´free market´ is indeed foreign to those that only know how to harvest the land and filter the water. The colonial enterprise we are discussing goes under many names (NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA[4])  and has been carefully implemented with corporate advocacy in order to reduce immediate resistance. Terms like ´investment opportunities´ and ´established framework´[5] mean very little to the peasants of Central America and corporate investors often exploit this complicated terminology to their advantage.

Amidst this corporate trickery there are international movements and grassroots organizations that are watching every move the transnational corporations make as they tighten their grip around the world’s natural resources. By documenting this global shift we can rationalize and act upon the political coercion and injustices inflicted upon the people of Central Americain order for corporations to market and capitalize on sacred land. Our access to this knowledge and understanding is constantly clouded by media propaganda and consumerist tactics, rendering the populous as industrial figures instead of participants. Our own culture is so diluted and manufactured our legacy on this planet can be summed up by Ronald Macdonald. The EZLN have produced a wave of socio-political movements that do not want to be a part of the unsustainable global greed nor do they wish to return to slave status in a factory or sweatshop. We in the western civilization have to consider at what price do we pay in order to upgrade our mobile phone or install that new plasma screen. This issue is not regional, the suffering, repression and discrimination of indigenous peoples is international. The communities and families who sacrifice everything to be exploited by their rulers are no longer feeding their children but feeding the western world.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

[1] Autonomy stemming from ancient Greek: αὐτονομία autonomia from αὐτόνομος autonomos , ´one who gives oneself their own law.´

[2] Jean- Christophe Deberre, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Water Forum, (Mexico, 2006)

[3] In 2001, Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the launch of Plan Puebla Panama, the main objectives are privatization, attracting foreign investment, regional control ofMesoamerica and a shift from locally owned agriculture, industry and forestry to corporate-ownership.

[4] The North American Free Trade Agreement, Free Trade Area of the Americas and The Central American Free Trade Agreement

[5] North American Free Trade Agreement ; Objectives,


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23 Responses to “La Lucha Sigue! (The Fight Continues)”

  1. moorbey Says:

    Reblogged this on Moorbey's Blog.

    • otis shaw Says:

      Thanks for your support. I am fine about this blog being used as long as I am acredited for the writing. Zapata Vive!

      • moorbey Says:

        I am not about claiming anyone’s writing i reblog and post information that is of importance. I am in the this to help in keeping the free flow of information.

  2. Donald Shaw Says:

    Hi Otis
    I became engrossed by your article on the plight of the poor and the grabbing of land and mineral wealth by large organisations. The Government of Mexico, judging by the stories of murders and shootings related to drug cartels, etc. has lost any grip it had. I would suspect the poor stand little chance of improving their lot whilst greed, and power struggles continue, taking the focus away from what you describe.
    Supporting charities on the ground who work directly with the people, is one way of helping them. Struggles by militant groups always ends in unnecessary death and destruction. Look at Baden-Meinhof, etc. Education and health care, and ensuring democratic voices are heard through the ballot box, may take longer but hopefully avoids the path to destruction and death.

    • otis shaw Says:

      Indeed supporting organizations who work directly with the people themselves is very important. Its interesting that Oxfam were knocked back in Chiapas. I will place links today so you can see what ECSG are doing.

  3. Laetitia Verbeek Says:

    La lutte continue !!! I “m really impressed by your researchs and your needing to communicate your feelings…public policy designed to redistribute wealth and create a similar company but now people live in the same inequality. But the really sad that interested in … It makes me angry but how to live every day this past lours you describe … I remain attentive and sensitive to what happens around me. Life is so precious. Our “implacation” the world must fight against exclusion. thx for your article.

    • otis shaw Says:

      I hope through reading this article more people wil realise that although we are thousands of miles away from these communities we are implicating ourselves everytime we shop at the supermarket or fill our car with petrol. How many of us think about what we consume. I used ´Bimbo´as an example, who supply every household in America and Spain with sliced white bread, as they are one of the major companies involved in the PPP of mesoamerica. You might know this company under a different name ..Sara Lee? Until we stop supporting these corps we will be part of the problem. I am not asking for everyone to suddenly have a conscience, but those that have must take a stand. We have a choice and can avoid corps without fear of any threat. The communities I write about live in fear of their lives everyday. Peace.

  4. Paul Brady Says:

    Hi Otis. It’s cool to see the hours of shared conversations about ideas and problems so efficiently collated and expressed. By highlighting these anti-democratic ‘economic’ scams with clever writing, we stand a chance of exposing the level of ideological, moral, and ethical stupidity that corporate entities and their arrogant apologists try to pass off as either common sense or expertise. Keep up the good work.


  5. shelly Says:

    Written with much gravitas. Great to see someone expressing proficiently that which obviously comes from the heart. Long gone are the days where i could pick you up on your writing..well,i could..but i would just be being pedantic! I am not unfamiliar with whats going on around me,and I dont mean on my ‘doorstep’,so,for me, you highlight well with Chiapas’ statistics whats happening economically all around us-and i include us in this on 2 levels;what is happening and what we can do to help! These communities get bulldozed by large corps and unless we recognise this and do something about it ,in the not too distant future you will be writing about ‘history’. Thankyou for your article(s),keep them coming.

  6. Stephen McGarry Says:

    I do not know enough about the indigenous people. I have been to Mexico prior to the drugs war and it saddens me that other important issues such as this is not news worthy and I wonder what can be done?

    • otis shaw Says:

      Just by reading this blog you are doing something Steven. My part in this is to make people aware of what is going on through my publications. The mainstream media will not sell papers on stories about corporate greed and the knock on effect our exotic hols have on the natives. The papers run on advertising from companies like shell or thomas cook and if they run stories discrediting these corps the funding would soon stop. We dont have to become eco-warriors to help the situation. There are easy ways to distance yourself from those that have blood on their hands .. boycott their products. Think about how much you need to drink Coca-Cola before you give them your money … does it really taste as good as it did when you where 5 yrs old?

  7. Joel Kallstrom Says:

    Excellent article, Otis.

    Neo-colonial injustices and neo-liberal policies, masked by the kind of corporate newspeak that bandies about words like “progress” and “opportunity”, alongside a whole host of weasel words designed to obliterate critical thinking, are becoming one of the major moral failings of our time.

    These matters deserve our collective attention; we are approaching the time where complacency is complicity, where ignorance, though perhaps understandable in a world of increasingly corporatised communication, is inexcusable. Because the machines of industry grind ever onward, making mockery of concepts such as “sustainability”, poisoning the earth and destroying lives.

    History will crucify these forces, but what is needed is immediate action, and that begins with awareness.

    So again, excellent article, well laid-out, clearly written, and darkly illuminating. Look forward to more.


  8. Leo Says:

    Very well written Otis,

    I would love to know more and how to support them from here. When we were there two years ago it was very sad to see how big is the presence of the mexican army all around chiapas and how the government is buying people’s land and conciousness, trying to split the community and the movement. Also they were pushing the local farmers to change their more or less self sufficient production for a mono production based only in corn and palm, that would benefit the whole production of mexico but the local farmer would be completely defenceless against the global economy and would have to buy, with little money, the other vegetables and products he used to produce. It was very sad to see all this, that big government of mexico do not care for their own poor people and culture, they only care about opening the gates of central and south america to USA, big money for the ones who are in the top!

    It was brilliant to meet you last Friday at Alba, I was feeling disconnected of this reality.


    • otis shaw Says:

      Even the city has suprises. It was a pleasure to meet you last friday. Me encantaria hablar contigo sobre tus viajes en Chiapas. Proximo semana? Edinburgh is full of coffee shops as well as suprises. Estoy siempre en el centro martes y viernes. Hasta pronto. Abrazos Oats

      • Leo Says:

        Next thursday 22nd from after 5pm? It’ll have to be close to Alba, I meant to play for the class from 7pm. Let me know.


      • otis shaw Says:

        Estoy trabajando en jueves, pero te veo despues a El Bar .. 9pm??

  9. M. Says:

    Its good to see that there are still minds like yours coming from a western university. Your writing is direct but not offensive, clear but not obvious, sharp but not vulgar.
    We have to open the eyes to those who dont want to see, hear or think.


    • otis shaw Says:

      Tus palabras estan como besos suaves en el cuello de un amante. no hay libertad sin acción! Tu nene x.

  10. steven thomson Says:

    Hey Otis, I finally made it here to check out your blog, it was a very interesting read! This is something I knew nothing about beforehand, pretty unbelievable to see whats happening to the indigenous people.

    • otis shaw Says:

      Thanks for your time and effort. There should be something on this site for everyone. Keep trawling, check out the links and vids when your next on and pass on the good word. Libertad de expresión! Oats

  11. Con S Says:

    Great piece of writing otis 🙂 very well writ. I’m up in edinburgh Tuesday if you want to say hello . Best wishes 🙂

    • otis shaw Says:

      Hi Connall,
      Sorry just reading my comments now. Been slipping back into the Slackers club since we returned from España. I only heard about your visit recently. Very unhappy I missed you. Next time try calling your Uncle as the adults are a bit retarded when it comes to communication skills. Glad you took the time out to read my blog. Dont stop now! I you dont have my number get it off your mum. Love Otis

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