indigenous autonomy in chiapas the women are missing n.
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Indigenous Autonomy in Chiapas: The Women Are Missing. By Rosa Rojas Presented by Rebecca Hendrickson. Chiapas Central region : Nahuatl and Otomi . Northeast : Huastecos , Totonacas , & Mazatecos . Southeast : Mixtecos & Zapotecos . South :Mayan Southeast : Tlapanecas &

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Central region: Nahuatl

and Otomi.

Northeast: Huastecos,

Totonacas, & Mazatecos.

Southeast: Mixtecos &

Zapotecos. South:Mayan

Southeast: Tlapanecas &

Cuitlatecas. West:

Mazahuas & Matlazincas.

The state has many

different ethnic groups &


chiapas background history

The name Chiapas derived from the ancient city of Chiapan, which in Náhuatl means the place where the chia sage grows.

  • Chiapas is inhabited by the Mayan Indians, TzotzilMaya as well as Tzeltal, Tojolabal, and Ch'ol.
  • Natural Resources are coffee (leading national producer), rubber, cacao. Chiapas is rich in mineral resources, such as silver, gold, copper, petroleum and amber deposits. The state is also a major producer of hydroelectric power from dams on the Grijalva River.
Chiapas Background & History

Now after the uprising of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) they publicly gave a name to their decision to govern themselves: autonomy.

  • “So we fought a lot with the CIOAC of Mexico because we were hearing the same cheap speeches of ten years ago, and we said, this cannot be. Even though we questioned the situation, we didn’t find a way out.”
  • The uprising of the Zapatistas reactivated the whole movement. 
  • “We are certain that we have to govern ourselves. If that means autonomy, then we want autonomy.”

On January 1st, 1994, when NAFTA went into effect, EZLN masked members stormed the Municipal Palace and towns of San Cristobal de lasCasas, Las Margaritas, Altamirano and Ocosingo. After destroying civil records and speaking from the balcony of the Town Hall, the EZLN took over a military base of Rancho Nuevo, taking weapons and releasing prisoners from the region’s jails.

  • After Ernesto Zedillo was elected President, EZLN issued a third Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle in 1995. Zedillo ordered thousands of troops into the Lacandón Jungle to capture or kill EZLN leaders.
  • In 1996, EZLN released a fourth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. In February of 1996, the San Andrés Accords on Indian Rights and Culture were signed and this would allow indigenous people rights for autonomy, bilingual education and their own justice courts, but Zedillo vetoed it as he thought it allowed indigenous people to secede.


military base occupation 2001 (chiapas mexico)

president rejects autonomy

There is also the consciousness of the right to exist and the determination to be taken into account: “we are not equal, we are different; we are tired of the government treating us like garbage.”

  • On September 29, eleven municipalities in the northern part of the state, in a meeting called by CIOAC, reached an agreement at the same time to declare the northern part an autonomous region “based on 169 [Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous and tribal people] and the 4th article of the constitution, where [Carlos] Salinas himself recognizes the indigenous peoples as peoples and which expresses the possibility is of respecting and recognizing their own forms of organization.”
  • Salinas rejected the idea of autonomy. “To be sure, this [autonomy] is not the proposal of the immense majority of communities. They consider themselves Mexican in the first place, but to propose autonomy, especially there in Chiapas, which borders on another country, would run the risk of a secession from the territory, and we Mexicans would never accept that, not even the immense majority of indigenous people who live together in that region.”
President rejects autonomy
women we have the right too

In that way, some have asked who were the true authors of the demands (some of which were put forward in May, in a workshop about the regulation of Article 4 of the Constitution in which 50 indigenous women participated) for the right to decide how many children to have and when, “because one suffers a lot when one has a lot of children;” for respect as women; for pay equal to men’s pay for their work; or for punishment for those who mistreat them-including their fathers and husbands. Dona Vincenta also indicated that when the women asked for even a little bit of land to grow vegetables in a plantation which had been occupied, they answered that “there are lots of guys asking for land.”

  • “The women suffer just as much lack of recognition as we, as Indian people, do. And the women in the Indian villages are even less recognized, because the Indian men don’t pay attention to the women, there is a big problem of machismo and discrimination. It is no a well-established illness there.
Women, we have the right too!
women s rights cont

The mills are being run by the men because the women have no rights: they have to do the cooking and make the food, because the men can’t or don’t want to.

  • This is a problem of inequality of rights and discrimination against the women.
  • Women need to become literate about their rights. “We will have to get the necessary mechanisms operating so that women’s rights start taking effect just like the rights of the Indian peoples.”
  • “Men must become educated for the exercise of women’s rights so that the habit of sharing life becomes publicly known: sharing decisions, sharing work, in every sense, and this is not easy, it’s a whole process, it’s a whole revolution.”
  • Margarita, added: “This is for future generations because women themselves today have internalized their role and if they step out a little people think badly of them, and that provokes separations and the man leaves her.”
Women’s rights cont….
the zapatistas reactivated the movement

There is a set of practices, behaviors, and attitudes which make autonomy possible and there is a general proposal, but not everyone has agreed to it yet. Within the forces which are making the declaration of autonomy there are lapse and doubts, but on the while people see themselves as part of a region with a prospect of common struggle where they can govern and promote regional development. You can no longer look upon the construction of a road or a coffee processing plant beneficio as a very localized service. You have to look at the whole region.

  • “In the case of CIOAC, even in the case of serious crimes, the people don’t go to the Public Ministry, instead they go and present the case to the authorizes of the CIOAC, concluding that it is possible to develop other forms of government.
the Zapatistas reactivated the movement
natural resources

The indigenous people have rights over all the resources which exist in their territory: the soil, the subsoil, rivers and when he was asked about the fact that some resources belong constitutionally to the Nation, such as oil, Hernadez stated, “Yes, but who is the Nation now?”

  • He himself answered, “Now government officials are showing up: the federal government, they are the ones who have ruled and have prevented the Mexican people from moving toward democracy. That’s why these great riches of our people are concentrated in the hands of the government and the rich people.
  • For example, it is not right there should be electric cables that go from here and stretch as far as the United States, but we who are underneath those cables don’t have electricity. We have to move forward to resolve the needs of the peoples in the first place.
Natural Resources
we tell ourselves what to do

Just before Jitotol, at the crossroad called Tijera de Cate’ a sign announces: “Autonomous region/ 120 thousand tzotzil-zoque-chol inhabitants/ officials of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) not allowed to enter. (One example of sign in article)

  • They want to establish a new economic and political relation with the federal government. In other words, the municipality can continue to maintain itself as a structure of government inside the regions.
  • It would not be like it has been up to now, telling the villages what they want to do. Now it would be the other way around: they would only have power over the fate of their municipality.”
We tell ourselves what to do

"You are in Zapatista rebel territory. Here the people give the orders and the government obeys." Bottom sign: "North Zone. Trafficking in weapons, planting of drugs, drug use, alcoholic beverages and illegal sale of wood are strictly prohibited. No to the destruction of nature”

living in the mountains and near river
Living in the Mountains and near river