Chiapas Revolt

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Emiliano Zapata (1879—1919) Mexican revolutionary

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An armed uprising of Mayan Indians in the Mexican state of Chiapas which erupted on 1 January 1994. They demanded greater autonomy from the federal government, the preservation of their own distinctive culture, and the introduction of social reforms. Exploiting the myth of Zapata, they were organized in the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN). The rebellion was brought under control by the superior government forces in January 1994, albeit with serious human rights violations. In March, the government agreed with EZLN representatives on a series of reforms. However, on 12 June 1994 a peace agreement between the EZLN and the government was rejected by a majority of the Mayan Indian population. The truce was broken following the installation of the state Governor, a member of the nationally dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). On 19 December 1994, EZLN forces occupied 38 villages, and tensions were only reduced with the Governor's resignation. Subsequent peace talks were slow to progress, however, with the EZLN insisting on nationwide reforms, against government offers of regional reform. In February 1996, the state agreed to grant limited autonomy to the indigenous Mexicans, guaranteeing bilingual education and the preservation of indigenous culture. The agreement was not passed into law. The new President, Fox, finally realized greater cultural autonomy for the indigenous population of Chiapas. The new laws, which necessitated a change in the constitution, were passed in 2001. Although these fell short of the EZLN's demands, the organization's leaders began to operate within the political system, and constructed a political movement from 2006.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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