Gelsomino, shows how marginalized communities, especially those living in “ICT poverty,” are affected by oppressive government’s monopoly on the political process. The article focuses mainly on the Zapatista Army from Chiapas, Mexico. In 1994, the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement spurred this group into armed rebellion. The Mexican
government quickly crushed the anti-globalization rebels. The Zapatista cause was not staunchly anti-globalization. They were in favor of global trade, just one that included marginalized communities such as the farmers of Chiapas. They advocated for land reform and redistribution, as well as improved socioeconomic conditions for the indigenous people of Mexico – an ignored issue.
The Zapatistas knew that they couldn’t win a traditional war, so they turned to internet and public opinion. Marcos, the spokesperson/leader of the movement employed several tactics:
- He was always displayed in Che Guerva mask, thereby masking his own identity and showing that “anyone” could be a Zapatista.
- Marcos was never pictured carrying weapons, only a cell phone because of their adopted slogan: “Our weapons are words.”
- Marcos often carried a lantern, symbolic for “bringing light to the situation in Chiapas.”
How was ICT so successful in helping the Zapatista guerilla movement?
- ICT is more accessible then corporate news media
- Information shared through the internet is not easily censored
- Information can come from multiple sources/authors, making it nearly impossible to silence the group as a whole
- Alliance building capacity: Zapatista websites and list servs were able to foster connections with other marginalized indigenous groups, NGO’s, celebrities, and international news media
Although the Zapatista s weren’t able to make Chiapas an autonomous state, many still view their strategy shift to ICT a huge accomplishment. “The Zapatista Effect successfully shifted the balance of power from traditional media authors to the audience.” I think that by making the flow of information more participatory, you create discourse. I found this article to be very interesting because it ties in well to the news article about Assad. Syrian rebels should continue to employ their Zapatista-like strategy, therefore continuing their “popularity” with international media. I wish the article had touched more on where the Zapatista movement is today.