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Agriculture would still continue

The book Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas, which was written by Collier and Lowery, is based on thirty years of thorough research in the area of Chiapas, in the southernmost part of Mexico. The book illustrates the situation preceding the rebellion of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation or the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN). The book dwelt more on the dire situation of the indigenous people in state of Chiapas and the Zapatista’s perceived injustices committed by the government of Mexico against the indigenous people of Chiapas.

Suffice to say, that the authors were fair and unbiased in presenting the truth about the cause of the revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were objectively illustrated. Chiapas, a state that is primarily agricultural, is comprised mostly of small rural farmers, what is worst is that most of these farmers do not own the land that they till. The farmers are subjected to taxes or shares to be given to absentee owners of the land that they till. This situation undoubtedly has the makings of a revolution.

The book has clearly presented that the ultimate cause of the revolution, other that the desire of the Zapatista’s to move forth the economic standing and welfare of the indigenous people of Chiapas, it is the social unrest of the indigenous people brought about by the lack of basic social services in the state. In short, poverty and negligence of the government to address poverty, has lead the people to take the matter in their own hands. And that is to take up arms against the government. 2. How has Chiapas been affected by integration into global capitalism?

The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signaled the start of the Zapatista Revolution. The Zapatista’s ideology is distinctly summed up in their slogan, “For everyone, everything, for us, nothing” (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada). The Zapatista movement opposes globalization. They argue that international trade agreements are in favor of the elites on those who have resources to compete internationally. Small farmers, however, are in danger of being swallowed up by more internationally competitive agricultural corporations.

They say that the movement of liberal globalization is specifically designed to benefit the ruling class. Globalization would open up the Mexican market thus resulting to overflow of cheap mass-produced products from other globally competitive countries. An overflow of cheaper imported agricultural products would drastically reduce the market share of Mexican farmers. This would result to loss of income and reduction of living standards of many southern Mexican farmers. The state of Chiapas would be greatly affected since the area is primarily dependent on pockets of small rural agriculture.

Generally, the government of Mexico does not have a comprehensive plan of subsidized agriculture nor does it have a well-implemented agrarian reform. Therefore the farmers will not be able to compete with the subsidized, mechanically harvested and genetically modified imports from other countries. 3. What is the relationship between race, class, and capitalist development, as discussed by the authors? The state of Chiapas is primarily comprised of indigenous people of Mayan descent. Other than the fact that these people are a minority, the people of Chiapas also have a history social unrest.

All throughout histories of the world, minorities have the tendency to feel insecure of themselves and to highlight each and every aspect of injustice that they have experienced. However, for the indigenous people of Chiapas, they have a basis for feeling neglected and abandoned by the government. Chiapas has the highest malnutrition rate in all of Mexico. It is estimated that more than 40% of the population suffer from malnutrition. Economically, Chiapas have no great significance to the GNP of Mexico as most of the crops produced in the area are for subsistence.

Therefore, the area has been thoroughly neglected by the government. 4. What questions did the study raise for you? The NAFTA agreement would mean that Mexican crop subsidies would be discontinued. However, US subsidy on agriculture would still continue. The signing of NAFTA also meant removal of Article 27 Section VII in the Mexican Constitution that spelled out land reform all through out Mexico. The Section guarantees land reparations to indigenous groups. This would have greatly benefitted the indigenous farmers of Chiapas but was scrapped in party to the NAFTA agreement.

What was the motive behind the removal of the section? If NAFTA is too biased against Mexico, why did the government agree to the terms and conditions of NAFTA when this is not clearly for their greater benefit? 5. What did you not understand or would wish to discuss further? The Subcomandante Marco is the movement’s spokesperson, he is, however, not of indigenous decent. What is Marco’s motivation for siding with the Zapatista’s? Is Marco’s leadership only exclusive as a spokesperson? Or does his clout in the movement extend beyond his representation? 6. What critical observations may you have?

Social unrest is primary result of the government failing to provide for the basic needs of the people. The situation in Chiapas is a grave result of negligence of government. Although Chiapas is not of great economic value to Mexico, the government failed to realize that political instability in the area would eventually negatively affect the entire country. Economic stability is ultimately in correlation with political stability. Reference COLLIER, GEORGE A. and ELIZABETH LOWERY. Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas. Oakland, CA: Institute for Food and Development Policy, 1994.

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