Pedro Valtierra won the prestigious Rey de Espana Award in 1998 for his picture of the indigenous women pushing a soldier in Chiapas, Mexico. Valtierra remembered his heart beating fast and his hands shaking when he saw the moment and took about two minutes to steady his camera and took the photo. The picture was the most famous picture to come out of the Chiapas Rebellion, and considered one of the most iconic images of modern Latin America.
The Zapatista uprising which began in 1994 and lasted until the 2000s was the backlash against North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. It challenged an image of Mexico as a modern nation, recently freed from poverty and oppression, an image cultivated by Mexican lobbyists in the U.S. Congress to pass NAFTA. On the day the trade agreement came into existence, three thousand insurgents seized towns and cities in Chiapas, freeing prisoners and setting fire to government building.
Festival Mundial de las Resistencia y Rebeldias Contra El Capitalismo - Celebration of the 21st Anniversary of the Zapatista uprising in Oventik, Chiapas, Mexico. (Part I). December 31, 2014 - January 1, 2015.
“Are you going to win?” the journalist asked the rebel.
“We don’t deserve to lose,” the rebel answered.
That was the first exchange journalist Gaspar Morquecho recalls having with the revolutionary Subcomandante Marcos on January 1, 1994, in the central plaza of San Cristobal del las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Morquecho, feeling a mixture of still drunk and hungover from the New Year’s celebrations the night before, interviewed the Zapatista leader minutes after he and his comrades had stormed and taken over the municipal hall of San Cristobal.
Twenty years after the Zapatista uprising, VICE traveled to Chiapas to meet Morquecho, the first local journalist to speak with the Zapatista Army face-to-face, so he could recall the events of that fateful day—it was the first indigenous armed uprising in Latin America in the internet age.
It was during my senior year of high school in 1994 when I first read about the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas in an article in La Voz de Berkeley. Learning about an indigenous uprising that challenged the Mexican government really blew my world, everything that I was reading about third world struggles in the past was coming to life in front of my eyes. This movement helped shape my world view and has been a big inspiration for the artwork that I create. As we celebrate 20 years of this uprising it is amazing to see what they have accomplished when being faced with a governments that would like to see them wiped off the face of the earth. Their movement has been slow but it continues and the autonomous communities they have created give me hope for a world where we can live outside of the confines of capitalism.
¡Que Viva la lucha Zapatista!
funny leftist baby book update: my pics are getting frantically reblogged by all sorts of finger-wagging tumblr weirdos calling it child abuse. meanwhile baby is sleeping soundly and dreaming of zapatistas-in-diapers uprising.