Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico

Bill Weinberg, Author Verso $29 (288p) ISBN 978-1-85984-719-0
Weinberg's compelling, often shocking report presents a picture of U.S.-Mexico relations that vastly differs from the one usually seen on prime-time news. It was NAFTA, he charges, that pushed the indigenous communities of southern Mexico over the brink into open rebellion, triggering the Zapatista armed revolt in the state of Chiapas. A producer at WBAI radio and a correspondent for Native Americas quarterly, Weinberg explains how NAFTA has allowed agribusiness giants to swallow up the lands Mexico redistributed by agrarian reform. Meanwhile, U.S.-sponsored sweatshops (maquiladoras) just inside Mexico's border pay workers on average $1.64 per hour; these same companies dump toxic wastes in the area, creating an ecological nightmare and spawning hepatitis epidemics and birth defects. Weinberg interviewed Zapatista rebels--mostly teenagers with semiautomatic rifles--on their own turf and also conducted a rare interview with their elusive ""Subcommander Marcos"" (the alias of Rafael Vicente, a long-missing philosophy professor), who insists his movement is democratic, but vows a long guerrilla struggle. Weinberg details the drug cartel wars in northern Mexico and documents a web of narco-money laundering, bribes, disappearances and assassinations reaching to the highest levels of Mexico's government. (According to Weinberg, under cover of the ""war on drugs"" the Pentagon trains right-wing Mexican officers who use their newly acquired skills in torture and warfare to oppress Zapatistas and other indigenous Mexican protest movements.) This pointed critique of how Uncle Sam treats its southern neighbor has implications that go beyond gringo-Latino relations. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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Paperback - 467 pages - 978-1-85984-372-7
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