PBI’s activities in Mexico began after the Zapatista uprising in 1994

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: A Zapatista mobilization in February 2021 in honour of Samir Flores.

On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) launched a rebellion from their base in Chiapas to protest economic policies that negatively impact Indigenous peoples, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (between Canada, the United States and Mexico) that entered into force that same day.

Naomi Klein writes: “In Canada, where I’m from, indigenous uprising is always symbolized by a blockade: a physical barrier to stop the golf course from being built on a native burial site, to block the construction of a hydroelectric dam or to keep an old growth forest from being logged. The Zapatista uprising was a new way to protect land and culture: rather than locking out the world, the Zapatistas flung open the doors and invited the world inside.”

As noted on the PBI-Mexico website: “PBI’s activities in Mexico began in 1994 when, following the Zapatista uprising, it received requests for an international presence in the state of Chiapas. In 1996 PBI started working with Mexican organizations as a member of the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ) coalition.”

Presently, one of the organizations that PBI-Mexico accompanies is the Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water (FPDTA) that opposes the PIM megaproject and seeks justice for the murder of Samir Flores.

As NACLA has explained: “Flores was a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and land protection, a member of the FDPTA and the Indigenous Governance Council (CIG), a Zapatista-affiliated organization of Indigenous groups across Mexico.”

On April 10, 2021, PBI-Mexico accompanied the Peoples’ Front on a march on the 102nd anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, killed by soldiers in Ayala, Morelos in 1919, from whom the Zapatistas took their name.

The Guardian has reported that the Zapatistas claim to control much of the state of Chiapas that includes nearly 300,000 people in 55 municipalities.

The 1998 feature-length documentary A Place Called Chiapas by Canadian filmmaker Nettie Wild can be seen here.

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