Teaching Women in the Zapatista Movement: Gender, Health, and Resistance
The Zapatista movement is an important topic to integrate into the classroom, be it the World History classroom, the Latin American History classroom, or even the US History classroom. The Zapatistas are a formal army comprised of women and men located in Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico. The Zapatista uprising began on January 1, 1994, largely in response to the unchanging economic conditions for the indigenous people in Chiapas and the surrounding communities. The Zapatistas demand basic human rights: work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, and peace. They also demand the withdrawal of the Mexican Army from Zapatista territory and the demobilization, disarming and investigation of the paramilitaries. Groups locally and globally support the Zapatista struggle, including Amnesty International and America's Watch.
The Zapatista uprising has given women a unique leadership role. Prior to the revolution, indigenous Chiapan women found many of their actions dictated by a culture that saw women as inferior to men. When the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) formed in the mid-1980s, women were allowed controversial executive positions within the movement that challenged traditional roles and stereotypes for women. Additionally, the Zapatista movement attempted to tackle some long-standing gender discrimination and problems for women within Mexican society. This paper will present suggestions for classroom exploration of women's role in the Zapatista movement. It will first present extensive background information on this issue and then a detailed and specific lesson plan.The Geographical and Cultural Context of the Zapatista Movement
The Zapatista movement stems from the indigenous struggle fought by Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), a Mexican revolutionary fighter during the early 1900s 1 During the early 20th century Porfirio Diaz (1813-1915), the president of Mexico from1876 to 1911, promised not to run again in the 1910 election. When he did, many people in Mexico were outraged. This led to pent-up tensions of the Mexican people and as a result; revolutionary fighters such as Francisco Madero (1873-1913), Francisco (also know as Pancho) Villa (1878-1923), Emiliano Zapata, and others banded together to overthrow the Diaz regime. These men successfully accomplished their goal to overthrow the Diaz regime because he resigned in 1911, and they became national heroes.
Zapata, an Indian farmer, tried to recover lands expropriated from the indigenous people by the Diaz regime. He witnessed villages disappearing into sugarfields, water being redirected to hacienda irrigation ditches, and orchards shriveling due to the insufficient amount of water bequeathed to the dominant sugar oligarchies in Mexico. Because of this, Zapata articulated the famous Plan de Ayala (1911): it called for the expropriation of lands taken away from the indigenous people at the hand of the Diaz regime (Weinberg 48). In addition to his revolutionary plan, Zapata is crucial to the Zapatista struggle today because he illustrated the fundamentals of democracy by making decisions in big meetings so all could participate by sharing their viewpoints.
The collective grievances and frustrations that exploded in the 1900s are similar to those that led to the Zapatista uprising. In 1968, a radical movement by the students at Mexico City's National Autonomous University (UNAM) denounced the construction of a Sports Palace. This sport arena was to be built near the University for games that only a few Mexicans would be financially able to attend. Incidents of police brutality against these disapproving students began to fuel further protests against the construction of this arena (Weinberg 60). Students were rallying against the corrupt nature of the Mexican regime and its undemocratic decisions such as the arena's construction. The government took a very pro-business and anti-peasant and anti-urban worker stance during the 1960s. Individuals were banding together and served as models for future resistance groups. They demonstrated that people are able to collaborate and voice opinions on national affairs with which they disagree.
Because of the oil crisis in 1973, the U.S. shifted its reliance on Arab oil to Canadian and Latin American producers. As a result, in 1982, Mexico became the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. In addition, the Mexican economy prospered as an outgrowth of U.S. tourism with its $2.27 billion dollar industry in 1987. This thriving enterprise granted Mexico's inclusion into the General Agreements in Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which then led to the formation of a "US-Mexico Framework Agreement" to improve the market access which was the stepping stone for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (Weinberg 63).
The boiling point for the Zapatistas was in 1992 when Article 27 of the Mexican constitution was amended to allow "privatization of the 'inalienable' ejidos" to allow NAFTA. The importance of Article 27 was that it protected the communal lands owned by the indigenous people. Some would argue that NAFTA sold Mexican sovereignty and further eroded the indigenous people's autonomy in their communities. Tom Hayden's The Zapatista Reader includes an article by Andrew Kopkind, a writer for The Nation, in which Kopkind argues that NAFTA took away the indigenous people's lives, culture, and history (Hayden 20). NAFTA allowed for the importation of cheap corn and wheat from the United States to Mexico, which drove many Mexican farmers out of business (Oppenheimer 52). Opponents of NAFTA also contend that NAFTA took away indigenous people's autonomy by tying the Mexican economy to the United States (Weinberg 64). To protest NAFTA, on January 1, 1994, the Zapatista movement declared war on the Mexican government and the international trade agreement (NAFTA). The rebels of this movement distributed the First Declaration of the Lacandon Selva, a manifesto calling on Mexico and the United States to comply with the Geneva Convention and for the world to monitor this conflict. According to EZLN, Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution legitimizes this resistance because it affirms that the indigenous people's sovereignty lies with the people of Mexico by giving them the right to change their form of government (EZLN 50).
Subcommander Marcos, formerly known as Rafael Sebastian Guillen (1955-present), a university professor of graphic design in Mexico, left his job to become a revolutionary fighter in the Zapatista movement (Oppenheimer 244). He said that the NAFTA left Chiapas in a state of poverty (Weinberg 79).
NAFTA is a death sentence for the indigenous people. NAFTA sets up competition among farmers, but how can our campesinos--who are mostly illiterate--compete with U.S. and Canadian farmers? And look at this rocky land we have here. How can we compete with the land in California or in Canada? So the people of Chiapas as well as the people of Oaxaca, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Guerrero, and Sonora were the sacrificial lambs of NAFTA (Katzenberger 67).
Marcos points out that NAFTA creates an unequal system of competition for the indigenous people in Mexico. With the high level of illiteracy in Mexico, he challenges NAFTA by asking how one can expect the indigenous people to compete with the United States and Canada on equal ground. As a result, the indigenous people live in impoverished conditions (Oppenheimer 20). To summarize, indigenous resistance since the early 1900s and the violation of indigenous rights protected by the Mexican Constitution prompted the resistance movement led by the Zapatistas. As mentioned earlier, the indigenous people did not benefit from the economic growth of Mexico as it became integrated into the economy of the United States. Simultaneously, the government's lack of democracy also infuriated the indigenous people. Even though the revolutionary fighters in the Mexican Revolution fought for democracy, Mexico still lacked this type of government. For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was criticized for its tradition of having the current president of Mexico handpick his successor (Oppenheimer 10-11). It took more than six decades of PRI's rule to end when the people of Mexico voted them out of office in the election of 2000 (xii). A violation of rights, poverty, and the lack of democracy led to the pent up tensions of the Zapatistas in the 1990s.Demands of the Zapatistas for Maternal and Infant Health Care Adequate access to health care for the indigenous people in Chiapas is one of the primary concerns of the Zapatista movement. On a daily basis, people need access to pharmacies, clinics, doctors, nurses and medical services. However, because discrimination exists against the indigenous people in Chiapas, services are difficult to access. No efficient access to clinics and hospitals exists within a decent distance; if these services do exist, the distance of a clinic varies in travel time from innumerable hours to days of driving or walking As a result, this journey to a clinic or hospital is costly, uncomfortable, and in many instances, not a possibility. Tanya Zakrison, a student of paramedicine and infectious disease, wrote in 1999 about the experience of the indigenous people prior to the Zapatista Revolution:
Paying for a four-hour truck ride over the unpaved, potholed and sinewy path through the mountains to the nearest hospital in Altamirano is impossible for most, whose sole income is selling their corn or coffee harvests at artificially low prices in the local market, competing in vain with the output of local corporations ((Zakrison 539).
The costs of illnesses and injuries create "lost days from harvest and, hence, food from the table" (539). This causes difficulties for health promoters because the indigenous people cannot afford the prices and need to work for economic survival. It is apparent that the treatment of the indigenous people in Chiapas is discriminatory because the lack of access to health care providers and facilities is above the national average. Subcomandante Marcos writes:
The health conditions of the people of Chiapas are a clear example of the capitalist imprint: One-and-a-half million people have no medical services at their disposal. There are 0.2 clinics for every 1,000 inhabitants, one-fifth of the national average. There are 0.3 hospital beds for every 1,000 Chiapenecos, one-third the amount in the rest of Mexico. There is one operating room per 100,000 inhabitants, one half the amount in the rest of Mexico, There are 0.5 doctors and 0.4 nurses per 1,000 people, one-half of the national average (Marcos 4).
The statistics Marcos provides compare the people of Chiapas to the rest of Mexico to demonstrats the unfair treatment toward the indigenous people. He clearly describes the poor health conditions and lack of access to clinics, hospital beds, doctors and nurses for the indigenous people. This lack of access increases the necessity to push for heath care because basic needs are not being met. Unfortunately, state police and soldiers interrogate many health promoters if they are sympathizers to the Zapatista struggle. To further their abuse, the military has immigration checkpoints that create fear among community members, impeding travel to health clinics and organizing for their health rights (Ruiz 2). Along with health promoters, human rights observers are also harassed at these checkpoints (2). This creates even more problems for the indigenous people to attain adequate health care because government officials are harassing the people that want to provide this service (2). Discrimination and neglect leave the indigenous people with little availability and access to health care. Lack of health care in Chiapas results in death in many instances. Among some of these preventable deaths are maternal mortality rates, malnutrition, environment, food consumption, and stress (Gil 3). Raul Ruiz, a medical doctor candidate for the class of 2001 at Harvard and a member of the Partners in Health Chiapas Project describes his experience in seeing the risks women endure when delivering babies:
Julio was wet from the pouring rain and frightened. He ran through the streets of Polho, a community in Chiapas sympathetic to the Zapatista rebels, to find Carlos, the health promoter. He explained to Carlos, in Tzotzil, that his young wife, Ana, had delivered their first child an hour ago and was still heavily bleeding at home. I ran with the student nurse to the clinic's poorly stocked pharmacy to the post-partum hemorrhage kit (1).
Ruiz continues to write about his horrific travel to the woman delivering the baby. He describes Esperanza's (pregnant woman) location as very destitute. After Ruiz and the nurse performed the exam and made sure that Ana was not bleeding, they left the house. This made Ruiz question his experience and wonder what would have happened if he hadn't been there. He says, "My stomach cringed as I asked myself; What if the nurse and I was (sic) not there? If she continued to bleed would Anna have died? On my way out I gave on a last good look at the house to imprint it on my memory forever" (Ruiz 1). A preventable death in various parts of the world becomes a primary killer in indigenous communities that are not provided with basic health care. Ruiz's experience in Chiapas demonstrates the lack of medical attention received by the indigenous people that could prevent deaths. Mortality rates in regards to the deliverance of babies are extremely high in Chiapas in comparison to the rest of Mexico. About 12,000 more deaths occur in Chiapas compared to the whole state of Mexico (Gil 11). The lack of adequate health care is alarming because the region of Chiapas occupies about one sixth of the state. Malnutrition is another cause of death for the indigenous people in Chiapas. A typical dish for the people in Chiapas is tortillas, beans, and coffee. Maria, a Tzeltal woman, explains that because she does not have enough food, she often doesn't have enough breast milk in her body so she sometimes has to feed her three-month-old baby coffee (Katzenberger 36). This is one of many stories told by the indigenous people living in Chiapas. Malnutrition causes many occurrences of death as well as illnesses in this region. Children need the appropriate nutrients to survive and live healthy lives. Tortillas, beans, and coffee hardly constitute a healthy, balanced, and nutritious meal. Because of the hardships and poverty the indigenous people experience there is no surprise that many are dying from a preventable death ╠ starvation. This lack of nutrition in Chiapas is much higher than the rest of Mexico (Gil 5). Poor nutrition can cause anemia and accidents along with other health problems because the people lack the needed nutrients in their body (5). Malnutrition is another reason why so many indigenous people join the Zapatista movement. Living conditions, environment, dress, diet, sanitary water, jobs, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal problems, plaudismo (mosquito type infection), anemia, hypertension, and stress represent the many illnesses that occur among the indigenous people in Chiapas (Gil 4-5). These illnesses are not uncommon to many areas and are possible to prevent or remedy. However, in Chiapas, the needed medical attention is scarce to non-existent. One example is tuberculosis, for which a common medical test is administered by many public school systems in the United States to teachers working in their districts. This is usually regarded as a minor test procedure. If a person tests positive for tuberculosis, he or she will then receive medical treatment for this illness. Many people living in the United States have the luxury of receiving medical treatment that will easily rid them of this health concern. Reports show that death, as a result of tuberculosis, is thirty times higher in Chiapas than the rest of Mexico (Gil 13). The EZLN organizes sex education classes to teach women about their bodies and diseases. For example,
Women learn hygiene and disease—especially women's diseases (e.g., urinary tract infections)—that men do not understand or misinterpret. The organization also teaches about contraceptives and supports their use. Moreover: 'The companera not only has the right to terminate pregnancy,' Marcos has stated, 'but the organization also has the obligation to provide the means for her to do it with total safety' (Cleaver, 18).
EZLN's efforts for women's health are one of the reasons that women have joined the Zapatista movement.Women in the Zapatista Movement
In the period prior to the Zapatista uprising, the economic conditions were incredibly troubling for the indigenous people in Chiapas. Though the area housed some of Mexico's most valuable and profitable agricultural resources, the indigenous people who lived among the resources and often harvested them received little or no recompense for the sale of these goods. In fact, most families in the Chiapas region lived in dire poverty. And for women, an already difficult situation was often made worse because of gender discriminatory cultural practices, beliefs, and behaviors. The culture in Chiapas dictated a subordinate and oppressive position in the family for women—who were often the victims of unpunished spousal abuse and rape—and a macho role for men.
Additionally, the Catholic Church, a large force in the population and a major influence in the culture, condemned the use of contraceptives and the availability of legal abortions, meaning women had no control over the number of children they had, even though the number they could sustain was limited. The dowry system still existed, which allowed fathers to decide the value of their daughter's hand in marriage. Women were expected to care for the children, cook, clean, do the laundry, and help the men in the fields. Men rode on horseback to the fields while women walked behind, carrying the child or children. Once at the field, both men and women picked corn or harvested coffee. On the way back to the village, the men again rode on horseback, while the women carried firewood on their heads and supervised the children walking ahead.2 The women of the Chiapas region suffered from the hardships of domesticity not only because of the scarcity of resources passed along to the indigenous peoples but, also, because of the sexual division of labor that existed in the indigenous culture.
In spite of these hardships and sexual divisions, women made up a significant portion of the EZLN when they came out of the Lacand˘n jungle on January 1, 1994, to take over the cities of San Cristobal, Las Margaritas, Altamirano, Rancho Nuevo, Chanal, and Ocosingo in the Chiapas region. Though Subcomandante Marcos emerged as the most vocal and recognizable figure of the insurgency, the presence of women like Comandante Ramona and Lieutenant Elena immediately demonstrated to the watching world that women were helping to lead this revolution.
One of the remarkable things about this insurgency was the number and visibility of women within the movement both in leadership roles and in the rank and file. The conditions for indigenous women in Chiapas at the time of the January rebellion were difficult, compounding the already terrible conditions of poverty and oppression faced by the indigenous population. In allowing women roles of authority in the movement, then, the EZLN began a negotiation with both local and national culture on an unprecedented level.
In fact, many of the Insurgent Infantry Captains of the EZLN were women leading armed resistance within the state, and about 30 percent of the EZLN ranks were women.3 Building upon women's groups that were encouraged in the precursory insurgent movements of the 1980s, the women in the EZLN made themselves prominent figures in the contemporary Zapatista movement. According to Subcomandante Marcos, who has always been quick to point out that he is only a subcommandante while women like Ramona hold the title of Comandante, "it was only after the women had trained in the mountains, had become officers, that the men saw that they were capable of following and giving orders."4 At the same time as men were recognizing the capabilities of women, many women themselves realized that they deserved a life free of oppression from the government and oppression by men. This "struggle within the struggle" gave them the confidence and the drive to take on leadership positions.5
Fortunately, as Marcos' quote demonstrated, the women gained the support of additional male Zapatistas who also saw the horrible conditions for women and realized the contradiction in fighting against governmental oppression while oppressing a portion of their own people. One of the male leaders of the insurgency, Major Eliseo, wrote, "We had to combat this [machismo] idea because a revolutionary idea can't be this way. We are looking for equality, for justice. Thus equality means that one person is worth the same as the other."6
This radical idea of a revolution fought for justice for all people, regardless of class, race, and sex, allowed female Zapatistas to come together to create "The Women's Revolutionary Law," which outlined demands for women's rights. The Law demanded:
When "The Women's Revolutionary Law" was presented, alongside the EZLN's "Declaration from the Lacand˘n Jungle," it had the support of the Zapatistas.
An interviewer, Yolanda Castro; Advisor to the Regional Union of Craftswomen of Chiapas in San Cristobal, Chiapas; asked two Chiapan women, Natalia and Soledad, their views on the Ten Revolutionary Laws. Both Natalia and Soledad left their community to work for the union of craftswomen. When asked how their community viewed them after they left, they both replied that their community looked down on them. Natalia says, "They think women and girls shouldn't decide things for themselves, that daughters should obey. If girls go out alone, they're not worth anything, because people think bad things about them--that they're looking for men" (Katzenberger 113). Soledad's family has similar beliefs. Soledad says that her "family and people in the community say that I don't respect my father, that I came here looking for men. The community is just waiting till I return with a baby. They think that I'll arrive anytime, pregnant; and then they'll laugh at me" (114). Natalia adds, "The young women don't have the right to leave and work in other places. The custom in the communities is to keep them shut in the house" (114). Dependency and control by men and their patriarchal customs appear to be the situation in these communities. These communities in Chiapas ostracize women who choose to work or leave home by accusing them of promiscuity and lack of respect for the men folk.
Do Chiapan women desire the rights of the Revolutionary Laws? Yes, as Natalia says, "I think it's good. The women are opening up their eyes and beginning to realize that they have rights" (114). The interviewer asks these women what they would like to see the government accomplish. Soledad demands the government to "give us our rights. For example, since we work in artesania, they should pay us fair price for our work" (114). Soledad is expressing the Second Revolutionary Law, "the right to work and receive a just salary" (109). She is expressing a view like many others, requesting equal compensation for her work. These women are also saying that they want the government to establish laws that will demolish locally rooted customs of patriarchy.
These women were asked about their thoughts on the benefits of the Revolutionary Laws. Natalia says that there is more respect for men and women because the indigenous people have been educated about their rights. Natalia also says that women voted in the last election, whereas, before, predominately only men voted. The Revolutionary laws provided women with knowledge about their rights as human beings, she commented.
Female Zapatistas often fought an uphill battle, however, during the years following the January 1994 uprising. Because of the dictates of culture, women's participation in military or authoritarian forums was not always welcomed in indigenous regions. Maribel, one of the insurgent leaders, remarked, "In the communities, the mothers wouldn't let young women participate together with young men in anything. Here in the EZLN we have the right to do this."8 But despite having the "right" to do this, the fact that many male and female members of the indigenous community rejected the idea of women becoming a part of this armed struggle demonstrated the resistance women were faced with from the outset.
Anthropologist Lynn Stephen's 1994 interviews with male members of the EZLN further illustrated the continuing difficulty in the acceptance of women's new role. The men that Stephen interviewed claimed that they supported the rights and new roles of women in the EZLN and Mexican society but that they still had difficulty following orders from women.9 As Subcomandante Marcos described it,
Although the men in the EZLN wanted women to have more rights, it was difficult to accept new cultural roles. Compounding this further was the fact that the Mexican government and even feminists also took issue with the demands and participation of women in the Zapatista movement.
Despite all of the opposition that women in the Zapatista movement faced in terms of having their voices heard and implementing their Revolutionary Laws, Zapatista women continued their fight in the period following the January 1st uprising. For example, one of the most important issues for many of the female insurgents, outlined in the Women's Revolutionary Law, was the "right to decide the number of children they have and care for." This law was particularly interesting because it not only gave wives the right to have a say in childbearing even if husbands wanted more children, and it also went against Catholic rules, which outlawed abortion and contraceptive use.
Upon declaring the Women's Revolutionary Law, Chiapan women worked diligently toward their goals regarding childbearing. The EZLN organized sex education classes to teach women about their bodies and diseases. They were taught "about contraceptives and [the movement] support[ed] their use." Additionally, Marcos stated, "The companera not only has the right to terminate pregnancy, but the organization also has the obligation to provide the means for her to do it with total safety."11 The EZLN went against the Catholic Church by educating women on contraception and even went so far as to demand that its army members stay childless. Though the Third Revolutionary Law was certainly not at the top of the list of things women were fighting for, and though the goal of this Law has not yet been fully achieved, its existence demonstrated that women were beginning a war on those laws that subordinated or harmed them.
Another women's law, Revolutionary Law Number Eight, demanded that "Women shall not be beaten or physically mistreated by their family members or by strangers. Rape and attempted rape will be severely punished." Unfortunately, however, with the military occupations in many of the communities in the Chiapas state, the occurrences of rape actually increased after January 1994. Lynn Stephen argued that "In Chiapas rape and the threat of rape have been deployed as both a physical and symbolic violence to discourage women from ongoing participation in community and regional forms of organization."12 The military would specifically target the areas they knew to be problematic and of concern to women as a way to scare them from insurgency.
But the Zapatista women continued their fight against this violence towards women. Elena Poniatowska, author of the student uprising in the 1960s in Mexico as well as a writer for various publications (including La Jornada), described the change in Mexico. One of her articles, "Women's Battle for Respect: Inch By Inch," published in the Los Angeles Times in 1997, read,
Historically, women in Mexico that were raped or abused were usually perceived as guilty. But with the work of skilled feminists and lawyers, as well as the existence of the Ten Revolutionary Laws, Claudia was able to challenge machismo culture in Mexico.
Women have joined the Zapatista struggle for various reasons, but mainly because they would rather die fighting than live in fear of starvation. When women joined the movement, they contributed to the army's success immensely. They took up arms, worked with the sick, and trained other soldiers. Elena, a Lieutenant for the hospital unit, cares for the sick. She gives vaccines, cares for the wounded, and fights with the Zapatistas. She also takes command of the Army by giving orders and organizing defense positions (Katzenberger 38). This demonstrates the respect men and women give her because they abide by her command and look at her as an individual regardless of a specific sex assigned role.
Irma, a Chol (indigenous person in Mexico) woman who holds the position of Insurgent Infantry Captain, leads soldiers under her command. She attacked the municipal palace (plaza at Ocosingo) until the people surrendered; and after the attack, she undid her braid to let her hair flow freely signifying that she is a free and new woman. Laura, a Tzotzil (indigenous person in Mexico) woman is an Insurgent Infantry Captain. Laura taught and gave orders to a unit completely composed of men.
Anna-Maria, an Insurgent Infantry Captain as well, commanded the entire operation to take over San Cristibol. Unfortunately, the media gave the famous Marcos all the credit for this operation. These three women exemplified the respect men give to women in the Zapatista Army because they obey their commands and learn from their leadership.
Women who join the Zapatista struggle also leave a great deal behind when they join the movement. They leave their children, husband, brother(s), father, partner(s), and friends. Commander Ramona described the lives of the women in her community to an interviewer in 1994. She discussed the hardships they encountered and how "they are the first to rise, long before dawn, and the last to collapse onto a mat at night" (Katzenberger 43). She says there is a lot of suffering because of the high poverty levels of her people so she decides to carry a rifle instead (43). Her goal is to free her people from the injustices they encounter. Ramona is a leader of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee (CCRI). The CCRI is the EZLN's general command elected democratically in assemblies to represent the Zapatista community. Ramona stands tall even though she is small in stature. In her speech, she invites women to follow the example of the Zapatista women (43). Women like Ramona, who speak out in Assemblies and actively participate in the Army embody the independence and respect they earn from the army. Ramona was a seamstress before she took up arms with the Zapatista Army and serves as a role model for many.
Indigenous women demand the government and the Zapatistas provide them with equality. "Major Susana" spoke at a revolutionary meeting in 1993 and declared:
Though the EZLN attempted to change the cultural patriarchy that was heavily ingrained in indigenous society, since the initial uprising in 1994 little has changed for women outside of the intimate circle of EZLN leaders. However, the women's movement within the Zapatista struggle has exposed hundreds of years of gender inequality and has raised the voice of female dissent throughout the country. Though discussion about women's rights in Mexico decreased in the years after the 1994 uprising, the EZLN continues, nevertheless, to respond to outrageous examples of violence and injustice towards women. This demonstrates that women's rights do remain on the Zapatista agenda, although, control over both economic sustenance and culture remain the focus.13
Many observers of this situation believe that the immediate product of the Zapatista movement, both in regard to laws that affect all indigenous people and laws that specifically target women, is a planting of the seeds of change. As can be seen in their fight for sex education for women, the growing availability of contraceptives, and Claudia's story of challenging machismo culture; the insurgents were able slowly to make changes for women of the Chiapas region and begin the transformation of the social consciousness of the entire country. Above and beyond the changes that women made for all indigenous members of Mexican society, changes implemented by women like Hospital Lieutenant Elena, Insurgent Infantry Captain Irma, and Comandante Ramona; Zapatista women also began to forge a new social code—one that would restructure everyday life and the behavior of the society. Without women, the Zapatista movement would lack much of its strength and creativity; without the women's movement, Mexico might never have been challenged to think differently about gender. Campbell also writes that women's participation in the movement helps women to "change customs and practices harmful to women" (3). This revolution provides women with a voice to fight for equality. Because their demands (work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, peace, withdrawal of the Mexican Army from Zapatista territory, demobilization, disarmament, and the investigation of the paramilitaries) are lengthy and challenging to the Mexican government; it is unlikely that they will be met any time soon. The Zapatistas also state that they will not end their fighting until every condition is met. If this is the case, this resistance may take decades which makes it likely that feminist ideas will continue to spread throughout the movement.
Women's Participation in Revolutions and Resistance Movements
Teaching about women in the Zapatista movement not only gives insight into Latin American history, but it also allows for discussion of the potential for improved gender equality through women's participation in revolutionary and resistance movements more broadly in world history.
The leaders of the Zapatistas face the same dilemma that Cherrie Moraga speaks of because they must unite women and men to fight for basic human rights from the government. Women must join men to fight for these basic rights of work, land, housing, food, and health care so they can live substantial lives. Women have a better chance at gaining equality by joining the Zapatista movement because it is easier to build within a movement for equality than to fight against the government and patriarchal customs simultaneously.
Women's demands for equality in Mexico are supported by some of the revolutionary fighters but ignored by others. However, if women want their demands for a right to fair salary, the right to an education, and the right to decide how many children they will bear (to name a few), then participating in the Zapatista struggle seems inevitable (Katzenberger 109-110). Integrating this movement with women and men is more effective because it attracts greater numbers of people to fight for their basic human rights. Some argue that women are not only fighting against the Mexican government but also against the machismo culture. Andrea Mandel-Campbell, a writer for Financial Times in London says that the revolution is "a long battle for indigenous women who are seeking equality within their communities" (2). She offers an example by describing one of the battles for which women must fight, respect for the body and self. She states "In many communities, physical violence is considered justified, as is incest and the stealing or selling of young daughters into matrimony" (2). Women in these communities are sexualized by the men because they employ power over the women by committing acts of violence and sexual atrocities. Campbell also mentions one indigenous man's view of the women's movement within the Zapatista movement, "I don't agree that women should have all the same rights'I want to live like my ancestors--with the support of many women" (2). Campbell interviewed a man who expressed his desire to keep women in their traditional subservient role in both revolution and domestic efforts. With this deeply embedded culture of keeping women subservient to men, one can see that women must fight for equality within their communities and within the government. Campbell also writes about the inequalities women face with the law. She writes, "Women are denied land or inheritance rights and are often barred from voting in community assemblies or holding posts" (2). Because of their lack of power, women in the Zapatista movement have articulated their demands in the Ten Revolutionary Laws which asks the Mexican government for the right to participate in elections, hold leadership positions, and denounce the mistreatment of women in situations of abuse or rape (Katzenberger 109-110). Women demand these laws because they do not want to return to their assigned stereotypical and historical gender role of domestic work after the revolution is over. The Mexican Revolution and the Cuban Revolution serve as models for the indigenous women in Chiapas because they do not want to repeat the history of women who are used to fight in the cause but are expected to return to their subservient role once the fighting is over.
A professor in a Women's Studies graduate class at San Diego State University asked me what makes the Zapatista Revolution different from the Cuban or Mexican Revolutions. She pointed out that the women in the Cuban and Mexican revolution were used by the men and once the fighting was over, they were expected to return to their domestic roles of cooking, cleaning, and childbearing. This professor posed a provocative and challenging question that I could not answer at the time, but since then I have examined it more closely especially through comparison of the Zapatistas with the Nicaraguan and Mexican Revolutions.
In the Nicaraguan, Mexican, and Zapatista revolutions women demand equality within their revolutions. These women join their struggles because they feel that they can provide change in women's lives through equality of effort and a feminist future vision. Sheila Rowbotham is a social historian who also addresses women's fight for equality. She points out that many women fight against capitalism and their own oppression within the movement. She states that women must acknowledge that they must be in charge of liberating themselves because a man would not benefit from it the way they would. In reference to women's emancipation, she cites Bebel, a Marxist revoluntionary:
Arguing that women were doubly exploited, he saw them fighting against capitalism and against their own oppression. Bebel follows the radical tradition in which he put the oppressed firmly in charge of their own liberation. Women's interests could no more be included with the interests of men than the workers could be included in the interests if the employers. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Flora Tristan, revolutionary women had looked to men to free women. But Bebel believed there was little likelihood of men as a group taking up the cause of women's emancipation. Why should they try to end women's dependence in the family and society, when this dependence benefited them? (81)
Nicholson includes Shulamith Firestone's discussion on the importance of women's roles in revolutions in her book; Firestone, one of the founders of Radical Feminism, states that women need to end female oppression (Nicholson 20). Firestone argues that women have been oppressed since the beginning of time, and, because of this, women often feel despair and give up. Women, she says, need to strengthen the resistance in order to modify goals, gender relations, and states,
Why should a woman give up her precious seat in the cattle car for a bloody struggle she could not hope to win? But, for the first time in some countries, the preconditions for feminist revolutions exist--indeed, the situation is beginning to demand such a revolution. (Nicholson 19)
Women in the Zapatista struggle recognize men's desire to keep them subservient so they demand that the government establish laws that guarantee women's rights and equality to men (Ten Revolutionary Laws). Women in this revolution want to continue their independence and establish their equality to men during and after the revolution. Incorporating their demands into law will establish their equality with men.
Michel Foucault, a well-known French philosopher, also addresses women's sexualization and lack of power in the public realm. He discusses how society objectifies women's bodies and devalues them:
Women's being was'] thoroughly saturated with sexuality; whereby it was integrated into the sphere of medical practices, by reason of a pathology intrinsic to it; whereby, finally, it was placed in organic communication with the social body (whose regulated fecundity it was supposed to ensure), the family space (of which it had to be substantial and functional element), and the life of children (which it produced and had to guarantee, by virtue of a biologico-moral responsibility lasting through the entire period of the children's education): the Mother, with her negative image of "nervous woman," constituted the most visible form of the hysterization (104).
Many revolutions entice women to join with the expectation that they will return to their domestic sphere after the revolution is won. In Nicaragua and Mexico, women sought equal rights during the revolution and made progress with their demands. These women challenged the myths that women were only good for cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and sex. Because of their efforts; certain laws, political organizations, and feminist demands were attained for women in Mexico and Nicaragua. At the end of these revolutions, women were not entirely equal to men; however, they were able to change the status of women in society for the better. This provided future generations of women a foundation to demand further equality in comparison to men.
In the 1970s, most Nicaraguan people lived in extreme poverty with only a few who were well off. During this time period; there was high unemployment (22%), soaring illiteracy rates, people dying of curable diseases, and high mortality rates. The Somoza family was extremely wealthy because they controlled about forty percent of the country's earnings. Nicaragua was considered an "underdeveloped" country because it was dependent on the Western European capitalist economies. It exported cotton and coffee, and countries like the United States benefited.
Because of this economic situation, most women were negatively affected. Many husbands left their families due to the terrible unemployment rates and poverty levels. As a result, Nicaraguan women became the sole supporters of their families. Most women turned to occupations that involved domestic tasks or prostitution. Economics and political repression motivated women to join the movement. Brutality by the National Guard and Somoza's private army also motivated women to become active participants and revolutionaries in the overthrow of the Somozan dictatorship (xiv).
Internationally acclaimed feminist writer, photographer, and activist; Margaret Randall narrates the Nicaraguan struggle and the Nicaraguan people's attempt to rebuild their country during the Somoza regime in her book Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle (1995). Randall's book provides testimonies from women's experiences. Through these experiences, women analyze the political development of Nicaragua during the 1970s (ix). Like the Zapatista movement, women fought on the front lines in the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). They "participated in support tasks, worked undercover in government offices, and were involved in every facet of the anti-Somoza opposition movement" (xii). Women also formed one of the most influential organizations to help overthrow the Somoza dictatorship, the Association of Nicaraguan Women Confronting the Nation's Problem (AMPRONAC). Like the Zapatistas, "women made up 30 per cent of the Sandinist army and held important leadership positions, commanding everything from small units to full battalions" (xii). Dora Maria, a member of the FSLN, said:
This is the case with women. Women participated in our Revolution, not in the kitchens but as combatants. On the political leadership. This gives us a very different experience. Of course they played other roles during the war and acquired tremendous moral authority, so that any man--even in intimate relationships--had to respect them. A man would be hard put to lift a hand to hit or mistreat a woman combatant. (Randall 56)
In regards to women's equality in Nicaragua, each woman Margaret Randall interviewed was confident about the future and that there was "no going back" for them (xvi). "Many young women, from the countryside and the cities, decided that the logical way to participate in the struggle was to join the people's troops" (Randall 130). As was the case for women in the Zapatista movement, "The Revolution had to become [sic] before my family" (211). Women's involvement in the movement increased their potential for equality, but it could not wholly overcome deeply embedded gendered beliefs that women were abandoning their true womanly calling of needing to care for their families.
Foucault argues that women are seen only as sexual beings and producers of children. That is made worse during war. This next testimony demonstrates the chilling reality of his observation. Randall retells Amada Pineda's experience because it represents the torture experienced by many Nicaraguan peasant women:
That night, several of them came to where they were holding me. They raped me. I struggled and they began to beat me, and that's when they did all those terrible things to me. My legs were black and blue, my thighs, my arms. I had bruises all over me. That's the way they treated all the peasant women they picked up; they raped them and tortured them and committed atrocities. It was just three days, but those three days were like three years to me--three years of being raped by those animals. They came round whenever they wanted, all the time. It's horrible--it's nothing like going to bed with your husband. It's not the same at all. Just before they captured me, there was a young woman who'd only been married a month. That woman couldn't even stand up when they were through with her. They grabbed one leg and then the other'I've never seen anyone bleed like that. When they let her go she had to steady herself against the walls so she wouldn't fall down. She had to hold on to the branches of the trees till she got to her house' (Randall 80).
This chilling testimony demonstrates the issues of power and sexuality that Foucault addresses. Rape in these instances represents the ultimate power over women.
In the struggle to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship, women were also fighting for equality within their revolutionary group. Some men did not like the idea that women were taking part by carrying arms and doing other "masculine" tasks. These men believed that women should be in the home performing domestic duties. Randall interviewed Monica Baltodano, a guerrilla commander of the Nicaraguan revolution, who said:
Baltodano shows us that the potential for gender equality can exist amidst revolution.
In Mexico, when Porifiro Diaz ran for reelection in 1910, after promising not to do so, the pent-up tensions among the Mexican people were elevated until eventually they led to the revolution in 1910. Women were needed on the front to fight, help the wounded, and spy (among other tasks). Thus, women learned that they could take on male dominated tasks and do them successfully. In Jaquette's book (1994) she includes an essay from Ramos Escandon, Professor of History at Occidental College, who in her essay "Women's Movements, Feminism, and Mexican Politics" discusses women's role in the Mexican revolution to overthrow the Diaz regime.
These roles that women took on demonstrate their ability to carry out tasks that they did not think they could do before. Overall, this revolutionary time did not tremendously impact women's lives. However, women's legal status improved in some areas. Escandon addresses the improvement of women's legal status by saying:
Women's roles in the Mexican Revolution transformed their agency and their ability as a group to promote change for themselves in Mexico. Women addressed issues of equality as well. Escandon points this out by discussing the impact of the Mexican revolution for women:
The First Feminist Congress in Mexico was held in Merida in January 1916 to consider issues ranging from the function of schools, the importance of secular education, the need for sex education, and the political participation of women. The participants, mostly middle-class women, were divided on the latter issue. The feminist argued that women were the moral and intellectual equals of men and should participate as full citizens. (Jaquette 200)
The Mexican Revolution began the thought process for women's equality and collective organization in Mexico.
These two examples show that women's participation in revolutionary activity has the potential to create significant changes in personal and political relations between women and men. Studying all three revolutions allows students to see this potential.
Biographical Note: Devon Hansen-Atchison received her Ph.D. in History from Boston University. She currently teaches U.S. History and Women's History at Grossmont CollegeLaura Patricia Ryan received her MA in Women's Studies from San Diego State University. Her Masters project was titled "A Curricular Teaching Module For The Community College Level, Women, Resistance, and Revolution: The Zapatistas, A Case Study." She was Project Manager for World History For Us All, a web-based model curriculum for World History for middle school through high school students. She currently teaches World History at Southwestern College.
Cleaver, Harry. Introduction. In Editorial Collective (eds.) Zapatistas! Documents of the Mexican revolution. New York: Autonomedia, 1994. 11-24.
Cleaver, Harry. The Chiapas uprising and the future of class struggle in the new world order. Riff-Raff [Italian Journal published in Padova, Italy] February 14, 1994. Retrieved April 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/ Homepages/ Faculty/Cleaver/chiapasuprising.htm.
Editorial Collective. Zapatistas! Documents of the Mexican Revolution. New York: Autonomedia, 1994.
EZLN. The Revolt (December 31-January 1), In Editorial Collective (eds.) Zapatistas! Documents of the Mexican Revolution. New York: Autonomedia, 1994.
Fisher, Bernice. No Angel in the Classroom: Teaching through Feminist Discourse. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.
Foucault, Michel. (1997). Excerpts from Foucault's History of Sexuality; Vol. I, In S. Cayleff (Ed.), Sexuality and the Body Politic(s): Women's Studies 701—A reader [San Diego State University], (n.p.). San Diego, CA: KB Books.
Foundation For Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking Workshop Handbook. Sonoma State University, 1996.
Gil, Jose, Rivera, Jose, & Lopez, Olivia. Chiapas: la emergencia sanitaria permanente. Retrieved May 7, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.EZLN.org/ revistachiapas/ch2blanco.html.
Hayden T., ed. The Zapatista Reader. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.
Jaquette, Jane. The Women's Movement in Latin America: Participation and Democracy. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1994.
Katzenberger, Elaine, ed. First World, HA HA HA! The Zapatista challenge. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1995.
Kesselman, Amy, Mc Nair, Lily & Schniedewind, Nancy. "What is Women's Studies?" Women, Images and Realities: A Multicultural Anthology. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1995.
Mandel-Campbell. Andrea. "Indigenous Women Find Road Long: Mexico's Zapatistas Are to March for Their Rights." Financial Times, February 21, 2001 [13+] Retrieved on May 6, 2003 from Proquest (Research Library Periodicals) on the World Wide Web: http://www.proquest.umi.con/pqdweb. Proquest search on "women and Zapatistas".
Marcos, Subcommander. Chiapas: "The Southeast in Two Winds, a Storm and a Prophecy". Zapatistas. 1994. Retrieved April 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http:// Zapatistas.net/two-winds.html.
Nicholson, Linda, ed. The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Oppenheimer, Andres. Bordering on Chaos. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.
Randall, Margaret. Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
Rowbotham, Sheila. Women, Resistance & Revolution: A History of Women in Revolution in the Modern World. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.
Ruiz, Raul. "Medicinal Herbs in Times of Low Intensity War, the Case of Chiapas, Mexico. Partners in Health, Year Unknown. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: April 19, 2002: http://www.pih.org/library/essays/medicinalherbs.html.
Rutenberg, Taly. "Learning Women's Studies". Women, Images and Realities: A Multicultural Anthology. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1995.
Weinberg, Bill. Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico. New York: Verso, 2000.
Zakrison, Tanya. "Chiapas: A State of Health in a State of Siege". JAMC, 160.4 (1999): 539.
Zimmerman, Bonnie. "Beyond Dualisms: Some Thoughts About Women's Studies for the Future." Unpublished paper presented at The Future of Women's Studies Conference. University of Arizona, October 2000. Retrieved November 3, 2001 from the World Wide Web:http://w3.arizona.edu/~ws/future/zimmerman-paper.html.
This project includes a vocabulary assignment, introduction of terminology, film, reading assignment, Website activity, small group discussion, large group discussion, role-playing/debate activity, peer editing workshop, and a project assignment.Vocabulary Assignment
The vocabulary assignment clarifies words with which students might not be familiar. It also enriches and enhances their critical thinking skills.Terminology Activity
The terminology assignment clarifies important terms and documents to help students understand the Zapatista unit.Film Activity
The film introduces students to the indigenous struggle for autonomy. It also provides audio and visual aids to show all perspectives of the indigenous struggle in Chiapas. Because students apply note-taking skills, it enforces active student learning proficiency while watching the film. Students must recall information expressed in the film and synthesize all of the perspective of the Zapatista struggle.Assigned Articles
The assigned articles provide students with a brief overview of the Zapatista uprising, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Zapatista Army, and images of the Zapatistas and Subcommander Marcos. Students interpret the assigned readings by pointing out the purpose, points of view, key questions, most important information, and the main conclusion.Website Activity
The Website activity provides students with a background of Mexican history and its effects and influences on the current Zapatista struggle as well as women's important and critical role in the Zapatista struggle. This assignment incorporates Internet assignments into the curriculum and demonstrates the availability of information provided on the Internet. It also encourages students to evaluate the internet contents critically with the logic assignment and to compare information on this website to other indigenous struggles in the world.In-Class Activity
The in-class activity requires students to assemble the three articles assigned for homework into one logic sheet. Students must assess and analyze the information from the three articles assigned by pointing out the main purpose, points of view, key questions, most important information, and main conclusion. This activity builds communication skills with classmates because students discuss the material in small groups. It also enforces teamwork within the small group discussion because students must arrive at a collective answer. This activity also demonstrates students' ability to analyze the material because the group must answer the instructor's questions on the logic sheets. After the students work in small groups, the instructor will write on the board the logic questions which are the main purpose, main point of view, alternative point of view, key questions, key information, and main conclusion. Students will participate in the large group discussion and answer the questions asked by the instructor. The five groups in class will then be asked to write their answers on the board in response to one of the logic questions the instructor chooses.Role Playing/Debate Activity
The role paying/debate activity has students
assess each perspective on the situation occurring in Chiapas. It provides
students with stimulating interaction with their peers. This activity
is an unrehearsed theatrical representation of all the different perspectives
involved in the Zapatista uprising. The instructor facilitates this activity
and asks each group to answer the question posed by the instructor according
to their assigned role. Students must listen to the instructor's coaching,
gather into assigned groups, and answer the questions appropriately for
their assigned role. The questions students must answer are in the role-playing/debate
section of this project.
Lessson plan cover
Taibo II, Paco Ignacio. Zapatistas! The Phoenix Rises. Ed. Tom
Hayden, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002. Pages 21-30
Kopkind, Andrew. Opening Shots. Ed. Tom Hayden, New York:
Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002. Pages 19-21.
Length of Lesson:
Plan for Lesson:
Helpful Resources for Instructors
How to help
Review students' definitions of the assigned vocabulary list.Women in Resistance: ZapatistasVocabulary ListPlease define these words and cite your source for the following
(Total length of time: 45 minutes)
Clarify important terms and documents to help students understand the Zapatista unit.Instructor Activity
Instructor will summarize the main points of the seven terms along with the class discussion on these terms.
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
in Resistance: Zapatistas
Purpose of the Assignment
Introduction to the Assignment
On the board:
The Logic Questions:1. The main purpose of this film is: Why was it made?2. The main point (s) of view presented is (are): Also identify all alternative points of viewA. LandownersB. Indigenous women and menC. FilmmakersD. Film crew3. The key question (s) is (are):4. The most important information (facts, events, ideas, etc.) is (are): This information will let you answer the key question (s)5. The main conclusion (s) is (are):
Logical inferences based on the most important informationSummary of the Film
Students will be selected randomly from the stack of index cards to answer the following questions out loud (each student's name will be written on an index card).
The Logic Questions:1. The main purpose of this film is:
5. The main conclusion (s) is (are):
Students will save notes and turn them in with their portfolio project.
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
(Total Length of time: 115 minutes)
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
Article Homework Assignment
(Total Length of time: 30 minutes)
Students will read the following articles for homework:
1. Zapatistas! The Phoenix Rises by Paco Ignacio Taibo II (Pages 21-30).
2. Opening Shots by Andrew Kopkind (Pages 19-21).Citations:
Taibo II, Paco Ignacio. Zapatistas! The Phoenix Rises. Ed. Tom
Hayden, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.
Kopkind, Andrew. Opening Shots. Ed. Tom Hayden, New York:
Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.Overview of Information Found in These Articles
A brief overview of the Zapatista uprising, NAFTA, Zapatista Army, images of the Zapatistas and Subcommander Marcos.
1. The main purpose of this (article, story, essay, Website, etc.) is: [Why was it written?]2. The main point (s) of view presented is (are): [Also identify an alternative point of view]3. The key question (s) is (are):4. The most important information (facts, events, ideas, etc.) is (are): [This information will let you answer the key question (s)]5. The main conclusion (s) is (are):
Logical inferences based on the most important informationInstructor Activity
Hand out Logic sheet questions:1. The main purpose of this (article, story, essay, Website, etc.) is: Why was it written?2. The main point (s) of view presented is (are): Also identify an alternative point of view3. The key question (s) is (are):4. The most important information (facts, events, ideas, etc.) is (are): [This information will let you answer the key question (s)]5. The main conclusion (s) is (are):
Logical inferences based on the most important informationIn-class Assignment
Instructor will recall students' assessment of the assigned readings.Women in Resistance:
Zapatista Assigned Readings
Women in Resistance: Zapatistas Assigned Readings
Taibo II, Paco Ignacio. Zapatistas! The Phoenix Rises. Ed.
Tom Hayden, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.
Women in Resistance Website Activity
(Total length of time: 45 minutes)
1. Goal of the Assignment
i. The following questions will be assigned on a handout (please see attached handout):
1. The main purpose of this (article, story, essay, Website, etc.) is:
2. The main point (s) of view presented is (are):
3. The key question (s) is (are):
4. The most important information (facts, events, ideas, etc.) is (are):
5. The main conclusion (s) is (are):
ii. Students will be chosen randomly from a stack of index cards (each student's name will be written on an index card). Two students will be selected randomly from the stack of index cards to answer one of the five questions assigned for homework.
iii. After students complete the questions on the board, the students will review their answers with other class members. Instructor can comment on answers.
2. Learning Objectives
a. Incorporate Internet assignments into the curriculum.
b. Show students the availability of information provided on the Internet.
c. Encourage students to critically think with the five-question logic assignment.
i. Students are required to assess the provided information from the instructor. They will synthesize the material by pointing out the purpose, the main point of view, key questions, the most important information and the main conclusion.
d. Encourage students to compare information on this website to other situations occurring in the world.
a. Address: http://www.zapatistas .net
b. Name: Worldwide Zapatista Network
c. Purpose of the Organization: This site provides information of the Zapatista struggle occurring in Mexico. It includes testimonies from delegates and Subcomandante Marcos, the San Andres Accords, Emiliano Zapata biography, videos and interviews.
d. Students will read the following articles:
i. "Comandante Esther Speaks!"
ii. "Meet the Zapatista Delegates"
iii. Marcos's 1992 essay
4. Overview of Information Found on This Site
This site provides information of the Zapatista struggle occurring in Mexico. It also includes testimonies from delegates and Subcomandante Marcos, the San Andres Accords, biography of Emiliano Zapata, videos and interviews.
5. Hot Links
All links are connected to the Zapatista website. This site provides a thorough guide to other resources and research on the Zapatista movement.
Some of these sites are
written in Spanish but can be translated for free at: http://www.freetranslation.com/web.htm
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
Why was it written?
Also identify as alternative point of view
This information will let you answer the key question (s)
Logical inferences based on the most important information
WOMEN IN RESISTANCE: ZAPATISTAS
Small Group to Large Group Discussion
(Total length of time: 20 minutes)
Goal of the Assignment
Small Group Activity
(Length of time: 10 minutes)Instructor Activity
1. The main purpose of these three (article, story, essay, Website, etc.) are:
Large Group Activity
(Length of activity: 10 minutes)Instructor Activity
Also identify an alternative point of view
1. "Comandante Esther Speaks!"2. "Meet the Zapatista Delegates"
3. Marcos's 1992 essay
THE LOGIC OF_______________________________________________________
Women in Resistance: Zapatistas
Role Playing/Debate Activity
(Total Length of time: 90 minutes)Goal of the Assignment
Small Group Activity
(Length of time: 20-30 minutes)Instructor Activity
1. Woman in the Zapatista Army2. Man in the Zapatista Army
3. A Mexican government official
Large Group Activity
(Length of time: 60 minutes)Instructor Activity
Questions for Role Playing/Debate Activity
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
1. Do you think the indigenous people in Mexico are being exploited?
2. Do you think the members in the Zapatista struggle are violent?
3. What is a possible solution to end the poverty rates in Mexico?
4. Do you think women are treated equal to men in the Zapatista movement?
5. What do you think of the Ten Revolutionary Laws?
6. Do you think the people in Mexico have prospered with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?
7. Why do you think people have been drawn to the Zapatista movement?
Students will write a journal reflection (about 300-500 words) on one of the following questions of their choice:
i. Why or why not?
2 Matilde Perez U. and Laura Castellanos, "DO NOT LEAVE US ALONE! Interview with Comandante Ramona," 7 March 1994, http://www.eco.utexas.edu/Homepages/Faculty/Cleaver/ bookalone.html.
3 "Twelve Women in the Twelfth Year," March 1996, http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/ezln/1996/marcos_12_women_march.html (May 8, 2001); Stephen, "Zapatista," 91.
4 Ann Louse Bardach, "Mexico's Poet Rebel," Vanity Fair, July 1994, 130.
5 "Women- The Struggle Within the Struggle," July 1997, http://vivaldi.nexus.it/commerce/tmcrew/chiapas/dalia.htm (May 8, 2001).
6 Lynn Stephen, Between NAFTA and Zapata: Histories, Nation Views, and Indigenous Identities in Southern Mexico. ms., 1999. Forthcoming, University of California Press, 233.
7 "EZLN-Women's Revolutionary Law," n.d., http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/ezln/womlaw.html (May 8, 2001).
8 Stephen, Between NAFTA, 225-226.
9 Stephen, "Zapatista," 91.
10 "Marcos to the Insurgentas," March 2000, http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/ezln/2000/marcos_insurgentas_march.html, (May 8, 2001).
11 Tom Hayden., ed., The Zapatista Reader (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002), 18.
12 Stephen, Between NAFTA, 237.
13 Rosalva Aida Hernandez Castillo, "Between Hope and Adversity: The Struggle of Organized Women in Chiapas Since the Zapatista Uprising," in Journal of Latin American Anthropology. vol. 3, no. 1 (1997): 115.
14 Moraga, Cherrie and Yamamoto, Hisaye. Kitchen Table/Women of Color; 2nd ed. 1989
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