Listen to Today's Edition
Mexico’s Zapatista rebel movement dissolved its “autonomous municipalities” in the country’s south this week, almost 30 years after it launched a brief rebellion demanding greater Indigenous rights, the Associated Press reported.
In 1994, the group – officially known as Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) – launched an armed uprising in the southern state of Chiapas, bordering Guatemala. Since then, the Zapatistas have remained in their “autonomous” townships and have refused government aid programs.
In a statement Monday, the group alluded to waves of gang violence in the areas close to the Guatemalan border – but did not clarify whether that was the reason for the dissolution.
The group said it will elaborate “in upcoming statements,” adding that they will also “begin explaining what the new structure of Zapatista autonomy will look like.”
The group is known for its cryptic statements, but Gaspar Morquecho, an anthropologist studying the EZLN, suggested that the group has become increasingly isolated over the years.
It has cut off ties with other organizations and many young people have moved out of the townships to search for employment or more education opportunities.
Others suggested the dissolution could be tied to next year’s presidential elections. Zapatistas have run candidates in the past.
Even so, the announcement comes at a time when Chiapas has seen an increase in human trafficking involving migrants, narco-trafficking and violence among drug cartels. The movement has warned that many of the areas in Chiapas are not safe for residents or outsiders.
Despite the government sending thousands of soldiers to the state, the Zapatistas said crime goes on unabated.