Published on Aug 9, 2012
The preparations for NAFTA included cancellation of Article 27 of Mexico’s constitution, the cornerstone of Emiliano Zapata’s revolution of 1910–1919. Under the historic Article 27, Indian communal landholdings were protected from sale or privatization. But under NAFTA this guarantee was defined as a barrier to investment. With the removal of Article 27, Indian farmers would be threatened with loss of their remaining lands, and also flooded with cheap imports (substitutes) from the US. Thus, the Zapatistas labeled NAFTA as a “death sentence” to Indian communities all over Mexico. Then EZLN declared war on the Mexican state on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA came into force.
Chiapas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtʃjapas]), officially Free and Sovereign State of Chiapas (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas), is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán, and Tapachula. Located in Southwestern Mexico, it is the southernmost State of Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Tabasco to the north, Veracruz to the northwest and Oaxaca to the west. To the east Chiapas borders Guatemala, and to the south the Pacific Ocean.
In general, Chiapas has a humid, tropical climate. In the north, in the area bordering Tabasco, near Teapa, rainfall can average more than 3,000 mm (120 in) per year. In the past, natural vegetation at this region was lowland, tall perennial rainforest, but this vegetation has been destroyed almost completely to give way to agriculture and ranching. Rainfall decreases moving towards the Pacific Ocean, but it is still abundant enough to allow the farming of bananas and many other tropical crops near Tapachula. On the several parallel “sierras” or mountain ranges running along the center of Chiapas, climate can be quite temperate and foggy, allowing the development of cloud forests like those of the Reserva de la Biosfera el Triunfo, home to a handful of Resplendent Quetzals and Horned Guans.
Chiapas is home to the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilán, Bonampak, and Chinkultic. It is also home to one of the largest indigenous populations in the country with twelve federally recognized ethnicities. Much of the state’s history is centered on the subjugation of these peoples with occasional rebellions. The last of these rebellions was the 1994 Zapatista uprising, which succeeded in obtaining new rights for indigenous people but also divided much of the indigenous peoples of the state.