Mexico’s Experiment with Direct Democracy

The Most Revolutionary Act

Zapatista: A Big Noise Film

Benjamin Eichert, Richard Rowley, Stale Sandberg (1999)

Film Review

Zapatista is about the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) uprising in Chiapas on Jan 1, 1994. This was the day the North American Free Trade Treaty (NAFTA) took effect between the US, Canada and Mexico. As a condition of NAFTA, Mexico’s PRI government abolished the ejidos (sections of land farmed communally with state support) established in the 1917 revolution. As large numbers of indigenous people were driven off their land for US oil drilling and cattle ranches, they lost their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

Chiapas is a province rich in resources, such a petroleum, coffee, hydroelectric power and uranium. Yet most of this wealth goes to US corporations and a few local elites. Prior to the 1994 uprising, the poor of Chiapas had no access to clean water, electricity or medical care…

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