Despite having long-declared their “active neutrality,” the Nasa are often caught in the crossfire of the fighting or targeted for supposedly sympathizing with one or another armed group. Tired of suffering the brunt of the country’s bloody history, in 2001 the Nasa organized the “Indigenous Guard” as a permanent, non-violent, civil defense organization.
After leaving Chiapas, Marcos’ first stopover was the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán peninsula. With the depth of yearning for social change and equally visible reactionary forces, Quintana Roo reflected in microcosm the great hope and difficulty that the non-electoral Other Campaign will encounter as it snakes its way through Mexico.
Fraying U.S. ties to Latin America were evident at the recent Summit of the Americas in Argentina, where Washington was unable to win new support from key countries for a proposed trade agreement.
“What we are witnessing here is a phenomenon of the ongoing transformation of the role played by youths in Mexican society,” says 28-year-old Ernesto Armendáriz, “because traditionally, young people are stigmatized in Mexico as a sector that is politically immobile or a sector that is politically apathetic.”
Right-wing civic and business groups from the media luna region, which is the crescent or “half-moon” shaped region comprising the northern, eastern and southern lowlands of the country, are at the forefront of this drive to challenge the indigenous movements’ supremacy as the nation’s most influential political force.
I went home to Argentina last December for the holidays, and upon my return to New York, most people I know greeted me with, “Things have gotten better there, right?”—a fair question, but one to which a typically cynical Argentine would respond: “Of course things are better, they couldn’t have gotten any worse!”