Thanks to Mikas Larsen.
Author: Ramor Ryan
Book: Zapatista Spring (AK Press)
What did you do before coming to Chiapas (live, study, work)? Lived in an autonomous squatting community in East Berlin after the Wall came down.
When did you leave for Mex? 1st January, 1995. Why?
Inspired by the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, by the new lang age of emancipation they spoke and embodied, and for the similarities
with autonomous idea of the Zapatista municipalities and the seed of which we had been trying to create in Europe with our autonomous
communities in squats etc. Frustrated by the lack of
hope/radical potential in an increasingly neo-liberal and
How would you describe the situation then? A revolt blossoming, brimming with possibilities. It really seemed that a new world was not only possible but just around the next corner. How was the Zapatista movement back then? Exuberant. Overflowing with indigenous people wanting to join up and internationals enamoured by the writings of sub-comandante Marcos. There was a real sense of of changing history, of being part of a revolutionary moment, of transformation. Anything seemed possible.
How would you describe the development of the movement? (and when did the foreigners get thrown out?) Too broad a question, it would take a book to answer! The foreigners got thrown out (1997-98) because of the
appalling strategy of the PRI government of the time who seemed to be saying that the indigenous of Chiapas
were not capable of organising their own revolt, that they must be directed by 'foreign agents' and therefore the
Chiapas problem was foreign interference -- not institutionalised injustice, deep racism and the exclusion of a
whole strata of society.
What was your role in the events? What is it today? See my book Zapatista Spring! Today, things are more
complicated: the Zapatistas say they don't need direct solidarity in the communities from internationals like in the 90's with the peace and solidarity encampments which brought thousands of global activists in contact with the
grass roots Zapatistas. The situation is changing, now they are focusing on their own internal development and
building everyday, practical autonomy in their communities. Be a Zapatista wherever you are, they say, now more than ever.
How would you describe the present situation in Chiapas? And what is the movement like now? It is a period of subterranean springs, where the Zapatistas instead of being prominent political actors in Mexican society, are moving quietly in the shadows and fortifying their position. Interestingly, the biggest single
manifestation of their numbers occurred this year (2011) in San Cristobal, when more than 20,000 base
indigenous emerged onto the streets to raise their voice against the Drug War ravaging Mexico.
Which are the most important recent changes and events (the state)? The main story for the whole of the
Presidency of Calderon (PAN) has being the catastrophic drug war which is devastating the social fabric of the
country and in turn, the potential of the previously massive and powerful social movement. The drug war is a
consequence of the US market for a (proscribed) product and involves vast segments of the Mexican state
collaborating with criminals to supply that demand.
Raw, ferocious capitalism and the unmitigated pursuit of profit.
How do you see the future of the movement? After the winter must come spring. In a bleak almost hopeless
scenario, the social movements - and the Zapatistas as part of that - hold the key to returning Mexico into a place of hope once more, beyond the horror of the narco-state.