Citation: Krovel, Roy. “Solidarity and Intercultural Communication in Chiapas, Mexico.” Intercultural Communication Studies 18, no. 1 (2009): 21-32.
Annotation: This article attempts to discuss the development in the understanding and implementation of human rights in Mexico by indigenous groups, specifically in the region of Chiapas between 1994-2009. It focuses on the Zapatista movement in Mexico, where their initial demands of land for landless peasants and a national revolution to rid Mexico of its liberal economic reforms has, through intercultural communication, shifted to using human rights as a tool to achieve their goals. Historically, these indigenous communities, as stated in the Mexican constitution, had the right to land, but have been prevented to obtain this land due to lasting legal disputes since the 1990s with the crafting of the NAFTA agreement. The use of human rights to defend indigenous people in places like Diez de Abril from police, the army, and landowners has gained international recognition, made possible by global human rights’ organizations, a global network of solidarity organizations, and local understanding of tradition. Human rights of indigenous peoples in Chiapas is not favored by everyone, however, as they are seen as counter-productive in giving special rights and protection to only one group of Mexicans. The author stresses that human rights for indigenous communities like Diez de Abril are different from the Western understanding and emphasis on the individual. Instead, the focus is on collective rights, as communities are what make a society function; a community collectively determines the security it provides to its people, in addition to the rights they need. The human rights discourse in Chiapas has allowed, as argued by the author, possibilities for the Zapatista movement’s struggle to obtain land.
The author succeeds in distinguishing the Zapatista movement and those of other indigenous communities with other radical guerilla groups. He emphasizes that although the movement initially presented itself as an organization of nationalist Marxists and peasants, it transformed to focusing on indigenous rights like those emphasized in international conventions. The author strives to direct the youth in Latin America of various political organizations to look into human rights discourse as a possible path to achieve the struggle of recognition and security from the government. In addition, the author wishes to remove the fear of globalization amongst many indigenous groups, as he believes it to be an important factor to communication and integration between various indigenous groups in promoting human rights, as it was made possible in Chiapas through the help of foreign activists and international organizations.
This article provides a useful method revolutionary organizations in Latin America can use to gain recognition and support in their countries, other than that of arms. Instead of excluding non-nationalists as many guerilla organizations in Latin America have done in the past, the idea of opening the doors to foreign activists and international organizations to help implement a movement’s goals puts a positive light in the direction of globalization. The idea of using human rights as a tool to bring about security of various indigenous communities has allowed these communities to adapt, without much difficulty, into new identities.
Caption: Zapatista Indigenous National Congress, “never again a Mexico without us, Indian National Congress,” December 2013. (David Solnit / www.PopularResistance.org)
I selected this image to accompany my annotation because it appeared in an article titled “The Roots of Global Revolt: The 20th Anniversary of NAFTA & Zapatistas,” on popularresistance.org. The article discusses a similar topic in that it touches on the communities in Chiapas and their movement’s ability to open up a new political space in the world, in addition to influencing other movements to emerge.