Last month I took a trip to Chiapas – and I went to Oventic, one of the headquarters of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The Zapatistas are a peaceful resistance army of indigenous villagers in the mountains and jungles of Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest and southern-most state.
Chiapas feels like another country. When you’re there, you compare it more to scenes you might imagine more typical of Central America than Mexico. Even if you’ve traveled extensively in northern or central Mexico and know the northern two-thirds of the country well, Chiapas is otro mundo. Most of my Mexican friends have a fondness and special love for Chiapas.
The state has the second- or third-highest indigenous population in the country (Oaxaca at 13.5%, Chiapas at 13%), and today more than 1/3 of the state is in direct autonomous control by the EZLN: they run their own schools, health clinics, and social programs, and tell the Mexican government to keep out of their Zapatista-controlled communities.
Their goal is the increased rights for indigenous groups in Chiapas, in Mexico, and now (thanks to the internet) their message is reaching people everywhere in the world.
“For everyone, everything. For us, nothing,” the Zapatistas declare.
If you go to Oventic, you’ll be treated to dozens of revolution-themed murals, which you’ll be allowed to photograph. Some of these photos have been used in the 2017 documentary, Zapatista Moon.