The Zapatista movement hasn’t used arms since the rebellion of 1st January 1994. They’ve just count on the voice of hundreds of women covered with palicates (kind of shawl) to fight against the military troops: “Go away; we don’t want to see you, this is not a quarter. We won’t go back to the forgotten nook of misery that holds no hope for us”. They are the symbol of the Zapatist fight, a new conscience that rose from the darkness of the marital subjugation. The physical abuses towards women are directly related with the high consumption of posh, cane firewater with a high level of alcohol. Landlords, chiefs and other exploiters have promoted its sales to perpetuate the misery of the natives.
With the prohibition of alcohol and drugs in their communities, this vicious circle has broken and the women participation has increased in all the areas.
Now, it’s he and she, and their children. Their lives are no longer more important than the cause that joined them. They are Zapatists: some have gotten away with their fear and have left behind everything they owned –their houses, lands and animals-; others, less fortunate, have also lost sons, parents or brothers. “They were fired”, they say.
Genaro, from the first Miguel Utría Colony “Los Chorros”, explains the details: “… we escaped through the mountains. They’ve destroyed and burned everything. First, they burned the house, and then they sold the land. They sold it between them. They said that if we thought of going back to our community, they would kill us. I’ve heard the priístas saying that they had enough weapons to kill Zapatists, and that they weren’t afraid; they were planning to kill us all. That’s what they said.”
Now, in the refugee camps with the fear on their heels, they have to fight to survive in a land where the lack of food, drinking water, roof and warm clothes are the cause of diarrhoea, fever, respiratory infections, parasitosis and pneumonia. Men and women, but above all, children die each day for the lack of medicines and medical assistance.
Don’t be naïve, we have to assume this: Chiapas –like many other places in the world- is a matter of survival, love to life and fight for the right to live it with dignity.
Report done in Chiapas (1998): refugee camps of Polhó and Acteal.