San Cristobal De Las Casas, the city we’re currently staying in, gained international attention in 1994 when the Zapatista Movement began their armed revolution against the Mexican state in hopes of creating an autonomous zone here in the Chiapas region. The movement is still alive and doing good work but it seems to be more mainstream and definitely less direct action-oriented these days. Well, they basically got their asses kicked by the Mexican army back in ’94 and stopped using their guns after that, doh!
Everything in this town is Zapatista themed: museums, stores, cafes, bookstores, collectives, handcrafts, T-shirts everything! There’s definitely a radical chic element found amongst the dreadlocked black-hoody types who come here in “solidarity”- most likely on their parents’ dime- but hey their intentions are good. Or at least the USD they bring is good for the local economy, heh. Chiapas is extremely poor- the Zapitistas have never accepted any financial support from the government and are 100% self-sufficient. As our genuine old school Zapatista host put it, “It’s like a mini Cuba in the middle of Mexico.” Maybe that means a lot of them don’t wear shoes and live hand-to-mouth but sheesh, you have to respect that level of dedication and sacrifice. No trust funds to fall back on with these people- they’re the real deal.