Photographer's Note

To be in Chiapas today is to see the effects of the Zapatista movement in almost every corner of this tiny state.

The local Mayans and other indigenous people have long been exploited, and in reaction the Zapatista movement has been simmering for many decades. In the latest round over the last decade, Marcos, a shadowly pipe-smoking intellectual figure reputed to be an ex university professor fluent in several European languages and Mayan dialects, whose face is always hidden under a ski mask, is the chief spokesman of the Zapatistas.

In response to an outright rebellion in 1994, the Mexican Government have been carrying out a limited warfare. There have been several violent incidents in the past. Everywhere you go, you see paramilitary and military forces armed with submachine guns or automatic rifles. They man the entrance to nearly every village along the main roadways. There are hundreds of checkpoints, they are present in town squares. They often check the id of suspicious individuals (including the passport of our daughter, who had once declared her interest in being kidnapped by Zapatistas) and sometimes search the bags of obviously Maya-looking folks riding in public buses.

More recently, the Zapatista's are making an effort to become aligned with mainstream Mexican politics. On January 1 2006, just two days after we left San Cristobal de Las Casas, the Zapatista's held a huge political rally in the central town square, where Subcomandante Marcos spoke. A pity that we missed this exciting event.

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Additional Photos by Animesh Ray (AnimeshRay) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 689 W: 44 N: 846] (9089)
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