María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (commonly referred to as “Marichuy”) is an Indigenous Nahua woman from Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico.
But who are the EZLN and the CNI?
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation is a Libertarian Socialist political group which political views are based on those of Emiliano Zapata, the commander of the Liberation Army of The South during the Mexican Revolution, who fought for the rights of farmers who were oppressed in Southern Mexico during the dictatorship of Mexican President Porfirio Díaz.
The EZLN rose because of the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement because the Zapatistas knew that Mexico was going to be used for cheap labor and exploitation by American and Canadian corporations and that it would greatly impact the Mexican Indigenous community since they are the most vulnerable in the Mexican society.
The Zapatistas aim to empower Indigenous Mexicans by calling for them to have greater autonomy from the Government, especially on the issue of land. A big example of this are their autonomous towns named “Caracoles” (literally “snail” in Spanish) which have Universal Healthcare, free education, and free college, each of them are not funded in any shape or form by the Mexican Government.
They also oppose Neoliberalism and the current political system in Mexico which is based upon corruption, authoritarianism, corporatism, and privatizing national resources just for them to be taken over by U.S. corporations.
On the other hand, the National Indigenous Congress is an organization of different Indigenous tribes and communities which seek to unite on the basis of fighting for Indigenous rights in Mexico. This group was created because of the call by the EZLN to “unite the Mexican Indigenous community”.
The EZLN has been heavily criticized because of their past since they used to be a “guerrilla” group during its first years, but the biggest attacks have been done from fellow “Leftists”, especially since they proclaim that the Zapatistas are going to divide the vote since the person who has the biggest chance of winning the 2018 Presidential Elections is the two times presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly referred to as AMLO) who is from the newly invented Left-wing populist party “National Regeneration Movement” (Morena).
Even Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said that the EZLN are “sold out” to the Mexican Establishment since they are going to “divide the vote” and he said it was pretty “hypocritical” of them the fact of being skeptic of the Mexican electoral process and calling people “not to vote” in the 2006 elections but now they are nominating an Indigenous candidate along with the CNI for the 2018 elections.
In my opinion, the one who is selling himself to the Mexican Establishment is Obrador Why? Because he has gotten cozier with corporatists like the father-in-law of Emilio Azcárraga, the owner of Televisa which is the biggest telecommunications company in the Spanish-speaking world. It is well known for being sold out to the Mexican Establishment and receiving bribes from politicians in exchange for good coverage. Then there’s also how the party he leads, Morena, is so “big tent” that it is even letting in people who used to be from the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which are the neoliberal parties he vehemently opposes to the point of saying that both are “the same” (which is not really far from the truth in my opinion).
That is why the EZLN, along with the CNI, decided to nominate their own Independent candidate for the 2018 elections. There’s no real alternative, even though there are 9 political parties in Mexico.
PRI, the current ruling party, is obviously going to lose thanks to their really big unfavorable rating. This is good, considering Mexico has been governed by them since 1929 (except from the years from 2000 to 2012 but we should note that even at that time they held a majority of State Legislatures and Governorships) thanks to electoral fraud, authoritarianism, corruption and their influence in the Mexican media.
The other “options” like the National Action Party and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who used to be the main opposition to the PRI, are now considering a “Big Front” against the PRI and they are planning to form a political coalition in 2018 even though PAN is conservative and the PRD is leftist. But are they really that anti-PRI? No, since in 2012 they formed a “pact” with the PRI to approve all the political reforms that President Peña Nieto sought to do, which aimed to privatize a lot of things from the public sector such as the State Oil Company “Pemex”.
Then there’s the smaller parties like the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, New Alliance and Social Encounter Party which always allied with the PRI.
When it comes to the Mexican Left, the PRD is going to ally with the right-wing National Action Party, Citizens Movement is probably going on their own and the Labor Party and Morena are most likely going together, but like I said, Morena is getting cozier with the Establishment even though they proclaim to be the “answer” to Mexico’s problems.
All of this is what catapulted the decision of the EZLN to run their own candidate for Mexico’s presidency, even though they were always skeptical when it came to Mexico’s electoral process. The EZLN and the CNI aren’t seeking power, they are simply wishing to create a change. To bring the grassroots and always neglected Indigenous Community to Government.
In my opinion, they are a true alternative to the Mexican Establishment since they oppose all the neoliberal trade deals from the Government and they seek to do something that no political party has ever offered: a change in the economic system.
If we want to help Marichuy and the Zapatistas in their fight against the Mexican Status Quo, we need to share and spread the word to all the people we can. Mexicans abroad can vote this 2018 elections, and there’s 30 million Mexicans in the U.S. right now who could really create a change in this 2018 Presidential Elections.
Even if this won’t necessarily benefit you, we need to stand in solidarity with the oppressed.