Subcomandante Marcos (1957–)

views updated

Subcomandante Marcos (1957–)

Hiding his face behind a dark balaclava, Subcomandante Marcos headed the indigenous uprising in Chiapas that shocked Mexico on the morning of January 1, 1994, when the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. As the spokesperson of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN; Zapatista Army of National Liberation), Marcos communicated the critical situation of Chiapas indigenous people to Mexico and the world. By means of widely published political and literary writings and appealing oratory, Marcos gained worldwide attention and sympathy toward the movement. His inflammatory rhetoric against neoliberalism addressed the profound injustices, inequalities, and discrimination suffered by Chiapas indigenous people. International support from European and U.S. representatives of important NGOs boosted Marcos and the EZLN's influential presence in Mexico. In such a context, the Mexican government chose to limit its repressive action and sought negotiation with the rebels. However, concrete gains for the EZLN and Chiapas indigenous people have proved narrow, since most of the 1996 Acuerdos de San Andrés—signed between the government and the EZLN—became a dead letter, and only limited reform, granting some cultural rights to the Mexican indigenous people, was incorporated into the national Constitution in 2001.

Even though Marcos has remained an enigmatic figure, his true identity was allegedly revealed by government investigations, which in early 1995 concluded that he was Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente, born in Tamaulipus on June 19, 1957, a professor of graphic arts at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Metropolitan Autonomous University) in Mexico City (La Grange and Rico 1995, pp. 33-37). His identity as an urban and white/mestizo intellectual, an outsider from indigenous reality, has been used by his detractors to brand him as a manipulator and opportunist. Others, however, have considered him as the ultimate realization of Antonio Gramsci's organic intellectual, because Marcos seemingly translated Chiapas indigenous people's demands into concrete revolutionary action.

See alsoChiapas .


Works by Subcomandante Marcos

Yo Marcos. Mexico: Ediciones del Milenio, 1994.

With Adolfo Gilly and Carlo Ginzburg. Discusión sobre la historia. Mexico: Taurus, 1995.

Shadows of Tender Fury: The Letters and Communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, trans. Frank Bardacke and Leslie López. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1995.

Cuentos para una soledad desvelada. Mexico: Ekosol-EZLN, 1997.

The Story of Colors. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 1999.

Detrás de nosotros estamos ustedes. Mexico: Plaza y Janés, 2000.

Siete piezas del rompecabezas mundial. Mexico: Editorial del Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, 2000.

Comunicados del EZLN. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico: Ediciones Pirata, 2001.

El correo de la selva (cartas y comunicados del EZLN durante el año 2000). Buenos Aires: Retórica Ediciones, 2001.

With Paco Ignacio Taibo II. Muertos incómodos: Falta lo que falta. Mexico: Joaquín Mórtiz, 2005.

The Other Campaign = La otra campaña. San Francisco: City Lights, 2006.

Secondary Sources

Chiapas: La rebelión de los pobres. Donosita, Spain: Tercera Prensa, 1994.

Durán de la Huerta, Martha. El tejido del pasamontañas: Una conversación con el Subcomandante Marcos. Mexico: Time, 1999.

Estrada Saavedra, Marco. La comunidad armada rebelde y el EZLN. Mexico: El Colegio de México, 2007.

Gosner, Kevin, and Arij Ouweneel, eds. Indigenous Revolts in Chiapas and the Andean Highlands. Amsterdam: Centro de Estudios y Documentación Latinoamericanos, 1996.

Hernández Navarro, Luis, and Ramón Vera Herrera, eds. Acuerdos de San Andrés. Mexico: Era, 1998.

Katzenberger, Elaine, ed. First World, Ha Ha Ha!: The Zapatista Challenge. San Francisco: City Light Books, 1995.

La Grange, Bertrand de, and Maite Rico. Subcomandante Marcos, la genial impostura. Mexico: Cal y Arena, 1998.

Montemayor, Carlos. Chiapas: La rebelión indígena de México. Mexico: Joaquín Motriz, 1997.

Vanden Berghe, Kristine. Narrativa de la rebelión zapatista: Los relatos del subcomandante Marcos. Madrid and Frankfurt: Editorial Iberoamericana, 2005.

Vázquez Montalbán, Manuel. Marcos: El señor de los espejos. Madrid: Aguilar, 1999.

                                         Emilio Coral