Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution


This glossary is intended to help you identify people, places, and ideas that would be difficult to look up in standard reference books. We are not professional glossary writers, and this glossary is not comprehensive or perfect. Some readers will probably wish we had been more political, and others less. Overall, we have tended towards caution.

10 Points--the EZLN's basic demands, these are often cited partially in the text; they include some or all of the following: work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, and peace

1846 (the Yankee Invasion of 1846)--known in the US as the Mexican War, this was touched off by the forcible US annexation of Texas

1968--the year of an incident in which the Mexican Federal Army sprayed machine-gun fire into a plaza in which students were protesting; more than 300 students were killed; the government denies the incident

1988--the year of the most recent Mexican presidential elections; it is widely believed that Cuauhtémoc Cardenas won the popular vote, although the official results were in favor of the ruling PRI. Public outrage at the alleged fraud resulted in riots, marches, and other protests.

31st Military Zone--the Mexican Army command area that includes Chiapas

Agrarian Reform--the redistribution of land from large-landowners to the landless, based on Zapata's idea of returning the land to those who work it. Agrarian reform has been undertaken at various times throughout the recent history of Mexico, especially during and after the Mexican Revolution. The plans for reform have consistently been weakened, and were  effectively dismantled by Carlos Salinas de Gortari's re-
definition of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.
Amuzgo--an Indigenous ethnicity

ARIC/Union of Unions (Asociación Rural de Interés Colectivo, Rural Association of Collective Interest)--an association of Indigenous campesinos, many of whom have been relocated to the Lacandona Jungle; the EZLN denounced elements of the ARIC for collaboration with the government

Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution--refers to the Agrarian Reform portion of the Constitution, which Salinas altered, effectively ending the redistribution of land

Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution--states that "National sovereignty essentially and originally resides in the people. All political power emanates from the people, and its purpose is to help the people. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government."

Article 4 of the Mexican Constitution--defines Mexico as a multi-ethnic country and reserves the right of Indigenous people to preserve their language and culture

Banrural (Banco de Crédito Rural)--a national bank that provides credit to rural areas; the EZLN decries the Banrural as a tool of economic control over campesinos

Boggie el Aceitoso--an Argentinean cartoon character by Fontanarosa, he is a mercenary with no ideology except his love of money

Caban~as, Lucio--the founder and caudillo of PROCOUP and PDLP

Cacique--a member of a local ruling class, frequently Indigenous, who maintains political power by supporting and maintaining the power of a particular political party

Camacho Soli's, Manuel--a PRI party official, former mayor of Mexico City, and anticipated-but-
passed-over candidate for the presidency, Camacho acted as Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas in the government negotiations with the EZLN

Campesino--a person who works the land and lives in the country

Cardenas, Cuauhte'moc--the PRD candidate for the Mexican presidency, he is widely believed to have won the popular vote in 1988

Carranza, Venustiano--a major figure in the Mexican Revolution, he was seen as representing the interests of the national bourgeoisie

Castellanos Domi'nguez, Division General Absalo'n--a Mexican Army General, Castellanos Domi'nguez was captured by the EZLN, put on trial for his oppression of Indigenous peoples during his term as governor of Chiapas, and condemned to life in prison. The sentence was commuted to life working in the fields of Chiapas. Castellanos Domi'nguez was released just before the beginning of the Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas.

Caudillo/caudillismo--the practice of an individual becoming, or being seen as, the supreme leader of a political movement, especially a guerrilla movement

CCRI-CG--see Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee

Charro--a labor boss

Chiapaneco--of Chiapas, or from Chiapas

Chol--a Mayan Indigenous ethnicity

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-
General Command of the EZLN (Comite' Clandestino Revolucionario Indigena-Comandancia General, CCRI-CG)--the leadership of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the CCRI-CG is composed of delegates from various Indigenous Committees, and is responsible to the Committees, which are in turn responsible to the local communities

CLETA (Centro Libre de Experimentacio'n Teatral y Artistical, Free Center of Theatrical and Artistic Experimentation)--a leftist arts and culture group in Mexico City

CNPA (Coordinadora Nacional Plan de Ayala, National Plan de Ayala Coordinating Committee)--
named after Emiliano Zapata's 1914 land redistribution manifesto, and oversees it's implementation.

Colima--an indigenous ethnicity

Colosio, Luis Donaldo--the PRI candidate for president, Colosio was assassinated on March 23 while making a campaign speech; the social crisis caused by the assassination caused the EZLN to suspend its community consultations about the results of the Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas

Commissioner--refers to Manuel Camacho Soli's

Compan~ero--companions and comrades, partners in life and in struggle

Corralche'n--a town in the township of Ocosingo. In May, 1993 the Federal Army discovered an EZLN training camp there, and began to deploy troops to crush the movement. The military operation was quickly called off, to the confusion of many commentators.

Coyotes--profiteering middle-men

Di'az, Porfirio--Dictator of Mexico from 1876-
1880 and 1884-1911, whose rule began with the Revolution of Tuxtepec, after Di'az lost his bid for the Mexican presidency. He brought capitalist development to Mexico and also encouraged the concentration of wealth in the hands of an elite. He was overthrown by the Mexican Revolution.

Ejidos--collectively held land, mostly for farming. Provided for by Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.

Federation--the Republic of Mexico

Ferna'ndez de Cevallos, Diego--the PAN's presidential candidate

Finquero--a farmer or rancher (see Ganadero)

Flores Mago'n Brothers--Mexican anarchists who organized workers during the Mexican Revolution

FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti' de Liberacio'n Nacional, Farabundo Marti' Nationnal Liberation Front)--an armed liberation group in El Salvador; they accepted a government amnesty and disarmament in 1992

Foco--a kind of guerrilla cell common to Latin American revolutionary movements; also a theory of guerrilla warfare associated with Che' Guevarra; it involves forming a liberated zone in the mountains and then expanding the liberated area towards the cities

Franco, Aguirre--bishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez

FSLN--see Sandinistas

Ganadero--a rancher; someone who holds a large amount of land as an individual

Geneva Conventions--a series of conventions signed in Geneva, Switzerland between 1864 and 1949 that provide for the humane treatment of combatants and civilians during wartime

Gobernacio'n--the Mexican Department of Government

Godi'nez, General Miguel Angel--the Mexican Army commander for the Southeastern Zone, which includes Chiapas

Gonza'les Blanco Garrido, Patrocinio--a former governor of the state of Chiapas, Garrido was Interior Minister until January 10, 1994, when he was dismissed from that post

de Grijalva, Juan--a Spanish explorer of the Yucata'n in 1518; there is also a river in Chiapas named after him. During the Conquest, Indigenous people resisting the invasion became trapped between the river and the Conquerors; they drowned themselves in the river rather than face defeat.

Guardias Blancas (White Guards)--armed guards hired by the ranchers to protect their property

Guerrero, Vincente--a revolutionary from the time of Hidalgo and Morelos, he joined forces with Morelos

Hectare--a unit of land equivalent to 10,000 square meters, or 2.47 acres

Hidalgo y Costilla, Father Manuel--a creole revolutionary, who, in the early 1800's, when his plans to liberate Mexico from Spanish rule began to fall apart, called on Indigenous people and mestizos to join the struggle.  His Declaration of 1810 ignited the Wars of Independence.

Jaramillo, General Rube'n--a major figure in the Mexican Revolution

Kamarrada--a satirical reference to a traditional communist guerrilla

La Fem--a Mexican feminist magazine

Ladino (latino)--another term for mestizo, though it refers specifically to people of primarily Spanish descent, or those associated with Spanish-derived bourgeois culture

Latifundista--wealthy large-land owner

Magna Carta--refers to the Mexican Constitution

Magonismo--the political theory of the Flores Mago'n brothers

Mam--an Indigenous ethnicity

Mayo--an Indigenous ethnicity

Menchu', Rigoberta--Indigenous Guatemalan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Mestizo--a person of mixed Indigenous and European descent; people in the Indigenous communities of Chiapas frequently refer to anyone living in the city as mestizo

Mexican Revolution--the revolution that overthrew Porfirio Di'az, dictator of Mexico from 1876-
1911, it also transformed Mexican society; many modern-day groups claim to be the true heirs of the Revolution, including the ruling PRI

Milpas--corn fields

Montoneros--a band of mounted rebels

Morelos y Pa'von, Father Jose' Mari'a--a caudillo who, when he heard of Hidalgo's revolt, organized local troops for the struggle; known for his populist politics, demanding the abolition of privilege and the return of stolen lands to the Indigenous people

Na'huatl--an Indigenous language

Neoliberalism--the political ideology of the PRI; a free-market, anti-state approach to economics and international relations, it encourages privatization of state enterprises, reduction of state subsidies, and fewer constraints on business

Nexos--a Mexican journal with extensive coverage of campesinos

Padrón, Father Joel--a Catholic priest from the Parish of Simojovel who was arrested for initiating and taking part in land takeovers

PAN (Partido de Acción Nacional, National Action Party)--a political party, founded by Manuel Gome'z Mori'n, embraced by Catholics

PARM (Partido Auténtico de la Revolucio'n Mexicana, Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution)--a conservative satellite party of the PRI

PDLP (Partido de los Pobres, Party of the Poor)--
a guerrilla group founded in the early '70s that subsequently joined forces with PROCUP

PDM (Partido Demo'cratica Mexicano, Mexican Democratic Party)--a Mexican political party

Pemex--the Mexican national oil company

PFCRN (Partido Frente Cardenista de la Reconstruccion Nacional, Party of the Cardenista Front of National Reconstruction)--an opposition party which offered to be the political arm of the EZLN, but was quickly refused; led by Aguilar Talamantes

PGR (Procurador General de la Republica, Attorney General's Office)--keeps records of personal information concerning opposition groups and their leadership

Plan de Ayala--the land reform plan proposed by Emiliano Zapata, as a condition for his laying down arms during the Mexican Revolution

Porfirista--of or refering to the rule of Porfirio Díaz or his regime

Pozol--corn meal soup

PPS (Partido Popular Socialista, Popular Socialist Party)--a satellite party of the PRI

PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democratica, Party of the Democratic Revolution)--a center-left opposition party, whose candidate, Cuauhte'moc Cardenas, is widely believed to have won the presidential election in 1988

PRI (Partido Revolucionaria Institucionalizada, The Revolutionary Institutional Party)--the ruling party in Mexico for 65 years

PRM (Partido Revolucionaria de Mexico, Mexican Revolutionary Party)--precursor to the PRI

Procampo--a national aid program similar to Pronasol

PROCUP (Partido Revolucionario Obrero Clandestino-Unio'n del Pueblo, Revolutionary Workers Clandestine Party-Union of the People)--a revolutionary group started in the 1960's by Luis Caban~as

Pronasol (Programa Nacional de Solidaridad, National Program of Solidarity)--a national solidarity program of rural-aid programs aimed at capitalizing small farms

PT (Partido del Trabajo, Workers' Party)--one of the socialist-oriented opposition parties founded in 1991

Rancho Nuevo--a city in Chiapas; the location of an important military barracks unsuccessfully attacked by the EZLN on January 3

Reform Laws--see Agrarian Reform

Republic--the Republic of Mexico

Ruiz Garci'a, Bishop Samuel--the Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristo'bal de las Casas, long-time supporter of Indian rights, liberation theologist, and intermediary between the Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation   and the representatives of the EZLN

Salinas de Gortati, Carlos--the president of Mexico

Salinista--of or referring to Carlos Salinas de Gortari or his regime

Samuel, Don--see Bishop Samuel Ruiz García

Sandinistas (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, Sandinsta National Liberation Front, FSLN)--a Nicaraguan revolutionary movement that seized power in 1979. The Sandinistas were later voted out of power, and are now an opposition party.

Sedesol--a Mexican government aid and development project

Setzer Marseille, Elmar--former governor of Chiapas

Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, Communist Party of Peru)--a Maoist guerrilla army in Peru

Solidaridad--see Pronasol

Superbarrio--a tenant organizer in Mexico City who dresses in a costume reminiscent of the great Mexican wrestlers, including a trademark ski mask.  He is thought of as a "superman with class consciousness."

Talamantes, Aguilar--the head of the PFCRN and its presidential candidate, he offered to be the EZLN's candidate for the presidency and was quickly refused

Tarahumaras--an Indigenous ethnicity

Televisa--a privately owned television station, the largest in Mexico; known for parroting government opinion

Televisio'n Azteca--a television station; it's reporters offended the EZLN when they offered money to EZLN combatants in exchange for interviews

Tierra y Libertad--"Land and Freedom"; slogan of Emiliano Zapata

Tlapanecos--an Indigenous ethnicity

TLC--the Spanish initials for NAFTA

Tojolabal--an Indigenous ethnicity

Tupamaros--an Uruguayan armed-struggle group, they faced serious repression in 1972, resurfaced in the late 1980s and became a legal opposition party.

Tuxtla Gutierrez--the capital of Chiapas

Tzeltal--one of the Mayan ethnicities that is widely represented in Chiapas

Tzotzil--one of the Mayan ethnicities that is widely represented in Chiapas

Union--the Republic of Mexico

UNO (Unión Nacional Opositora, National Opposition Union)--a Mexican political party

URNG (Unión Revolucionario Nacional Guatemalteca, Revolutionary National Guatemala Union)--a Guatemalan guerrilla group

Villa, Pancho--a major figure in the Mexican Revolution

XEOCH--a radio station created by the government "for" the Indigenous people of Chiapas

Yaqui--an Indigenous ethnicity

Zedillo, Ernesto Ponce de Leon--the PRI presidential candidate who was nominated after Colosio was assassinated

Zo'calo--town square; capitalized, it refers to the square in front of the Presidential Palace in Mexico city

Zoque--an Indigenous ethnicity