Towards a history of events in Chiapas

This is a month by month history of events in Chiapas, Mexico and the attempts by the Mexican state to destroy the Zapatistas / EZLN base communities. We maintained a separate page with news from our peace camp at Diez de Abril.

The list goes up to August 2004 - after this date time pressure and other projects meant that I couldn't update it frequently enough. From March 2005 material can be found instead on in their Indigenous Struggles/ North American incl. Mexico list

For post March 2005 news see

Latest anarchist news and discussion from indigenous struggle in North America

For post March 2005 news see

August 2004

After a year of silence a couple of communiques are release. While the year has been mostly quiet a couple of Zapatistas have been assassinated.

A Message from Marcos - August 2004
Marcos breaks the silence with new communiques detailing what the Zapatistas have been up to

July 2003

Marcos starts to release a set of communiques which will outline some big changes in the Zapatistas

April 2003

Feb 2003

A potentially deadly situation arises as two US citizens accuse the Zapatistas of seeking to seize 'their' ranch in Chiapas

Jan 2003

Jan 1st sees a major Zapatista demonstration in San Cristo'bel, later in the month Marcos sends a 'heated' reply to criticism from ETA

September - December

A quiet period with rumors of paramilitary activity, in mid November a letter written by Marcos in September is published which mentions the debates going on within the Zapatista silence. In December Marcos publishes 5 letters to various individuals and organisations in the Spanish state and the Basque country suggesting an encuntro with ETA


Paramilitary activity is stepped up with the killing of a number of Zapatista authorities/delegates

May - July

Three more Zapatista prisoners are released and another encounter takes place

Jan - April 2002

Conflict is building over government plans to expel the indigenous from the Montes Azules Comprehensive Biosphere Reserve, I've set up a new index page, The Zapatistas, the Montes Azules Comprehensive Biosphere Reserve (REBIMA) and the Lacando'n to archive material.

Dec - Sept

A long 'quiet' period but in the background the 'Low Intensity War' goes on with several attacks in October in particular


The Cerro Hueco prisoners end their hunger strike, in mid August there are reports of major troop movements in Zapatista areas. As the report from Nicolas Ruiz makes clear the communities are discussing and voting on the governements indigenous rights law

May - July

The Zapatistas reject the proposed government law on autonomy. A long silence follows but the limited demilitarisation does allow some reconstruction to start. But the communities complain that at the local and national level the new government is little better then the old one. At the end of July the prisoners of Cerro Hueco start a hungerstrike


The Zapatistas arrive back in Chiapas. The government proposal cuts the heart out of the San Andres accords so the Zapatistas reject it.


The Zapatista march to Mexico city

The Zapatista march reaches Mexico city despite assassination threats and a crash. Around 200,000 people greet its arrival in the Zocalo. After some delay the PAN are defeated and the Zapatistas are invited to address congress. On the same day the army abandons the last of the 7 bases demanded by the Zapatistas.

February 2001

The EZLN march gets going on the 24th despite government attempts to sabotage it by blocking red cross involvement.

January 2001

The peace process starts to unravel a little as the army continue to maintain bases at 5 of the 7 sites they must withdraw from before dialogue can start. In addition it emerges that the withdrawals to date are part of a plan drawn up under the old regime. Details of the planned trip to Mexico City are released and solidarity requested.

Chiapas revelaed

Chiapas Revealed,
Issue 1

If you want to read the individual articles on the web they are

Or download it and distribute it as a PDF file

December 2000

On the last day of November as Fox prepares to take office three EZLN communiques are released. On taking office Fox orders the army to return to barracks in the rebel area of Chiapas as a good will gesture. The EZLN respond by announcing conditions for the resumption of talks and that they will travel to Mexico City in February.

Sept - November 2000

The PRI are defeated in the elections in Chiapas. There is much speculation about what the EZLN will now do but for the moment the CCRI remain silence. The evidence from the communites and the prisons is that despite Fox's talk of implementing San Andres the war goes on.

August 2000

The low intensity war contines

July 2000

The PRI lose the presidential election with the PAN's Fox the clear winner. But will this change at the top make any difference to those below? At the start of July Zapatista prisoners start a hunger strike. The state elections are to take place in August, towards the end of July eight parties agree to back the anti-PRI candidate Salazar.

June 2000

A police car is ambushed on a road in El Bosque by armed gunmen, seven police are killed. Who carried out this ambush and why they did so is unknown but the EZLN deny any involvement in it. Meanwhile the long build up towards the elections in July continues

May 2000

An ambush near Polho on May 7th appears to be an excuse for a renewed governement offensive but is denied by AMC Polho. There is growing suspicion that the government is manipulating the situation with one eye on the elections in Chiapas and Mexico


April 2000

The government is buidling towards a major operation in the Selva under the pretext of protecting the Mount Azul biopreserve

March 2000

Reports emerge that the government gave some reporters paid positions in the army in order to buy favourable coverage of their war in Chiapas. Meanwhile the Low Intensity War continues.

February 1999

The Mexican government 'end' the UNAM occupation by sending thousands of police onto the campus and arresting hundreds of students. Weeks afterwards many are still in jail.

January 2000

December 1999

The government increase tension by claiming the EZLN are planning to launch an 'Acteal style massacre' on December 20th. Of course nothing happens but the army presence is built up further anyway!!

October - November 1999

A quieter period in the sense that the army road building progam seems to have ground to a halt. However as the reports show the Low Intensity War continues. In the UNAM the students win the resignation of the president. Towards the end of November Marcos releases two communiques on the ongoing war

September 1999

The government once more tries it stratergy of offering new peace talks before it has implemented what has already been agreed at San Andrew. Meanwhile planning is well under way for the '2nd American Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism' to take place at Balem, Brazil. Meanwhile the UNAM strike continues in Mexico city.

August 1999

The 'National Encuentro in Defense Of the Cultural Heritage ' is held in la Realidad. The UNAM strike continues in Mexico city, the Zapatistas continue to support it. A major confrontation blows up as the military try and build a new road through the Zapatista heartland. The government appears to retreat, saying it has suspended the road but the local people dispute this.

July 1999

As the low intensity war against the Zapatista communities continues the EZLN put out a communique saying they have no confidence in the UN, in particular after the bombing of ex-Yugoslavia . At the end of the month a democratic teachers encounter begins in La Realidad.

June 1999

The new government stratergy of fake Zapatista surrenders is denounced from many quarters but the army use it as an excuse to occupy more communities.

May 1999

In the wake of the consulta the Zapatistas call a second Mexican gathering to which over 1,500 come, meanwhile the state continues a new stratergy by staging photocalls at which small groups of 'Zapatistas' come out of the jungle and lay down their arms.

April 1999

In the aftermath of the consulta the government attack the autonomus council at San Andres. Next day 1000's of Zapatistas take it back.

March 1999

The consulta is held on March 21st and around 3 million Mexicans take part in it.

February 1999

The serious organisational work for the consultation on March 21 is well underway

January 1999

The Zapatistas call for the international solidarity groups to help carry out an international consultation of Mexicans on March 21st for the recognition of the rights of the Indian Peoples.


December 1998

The first anniversay of the Acteal massacre is marked in Mexico and all around the world. On the 13th Reuteurs accuse the EZLN of involvment in an ambush at Los Platanos, they deny any involvement the following day.

November 1998

Early in November the Zapatistas announce that they intend to meet with the Cocopa in San Cristobal rather then La Realidad. This meeting is mired because of Cocopa's inital failure to fulfil the agreed conditions for the meeting.

October 1998

The elections in Chiapas pass off without major incident with most Zapatista communities boycotting the polls. A second national Indigenous Congress is held in Mexico (City). Later in the month the EZLN attempts to re-start the talks and announces details of a national gathering on the forthcoming consulta.

September 1998

Severe flooding hits the costal region of Chiapas, hundreds are dead and missing.

August 1998

A banking scandel breaks as it emerges that the Savings Protection Banking Fund is in debt and the PRI propose to bail it out using public funds

July 1998

From the start of the month a frenzy of media speculation starts about the whereabouts of Marcos who has been silent since the start of the year. Then the Fifth declaration of the Lacandon Jungle is published. At the end of July PRI villagers detained two US military near their community.

June 1998

At the start of the month Ruiz resigns from CONAI, citing government intransigence. Conai then decides to dissolve. The autonomous municipality of San Juan de la Libertad was attacked by the army on June 9th, prisoners taken in this raid were executed later and their bodies returned in a state of advanced decomposition.

May 1998

On May 1st the police raided the Zapatista community of Amparo Agua Tinta in a bid to dismantle its autonomous rebel council of Tierra y Libertad. 140 Italian observers arrived in May as a response to the deportations the previous month. After breaking though police lines to Amparo 40 were expelled and the rest banned from Mexico for 10 years. The good news for the IMG from Diez was the release of José.

April 1998

On the 11th the Mexican army and police raided the community of Taniperlas which the day before had been inaugurated as the centre of the Indigenous Autonomous Municipalities of Ricardo Flores Magon.

On the 15th of April 1998 the Mexican 'security' forces raided Diez de April, arresting three Norwegian peace observers and deporting them. A 17 year old local José Alfredo López Méndez was also seized by the army, tortured and imprisoned. They also stole or destroyed 264 755 pesos of money and goods belonging to the community. In the panic a five year old boy fell off a bridge into the river and is missing, presumed drowned. Below are statements from the community and from the deported Norwegians. describing these events

March 1998

Jan 1998

In the immediate aftermath of Acteal the army started to raid Zapatista communities. This prompted a massive international response, in retaliation to this the government expelled several international observers.


December 1997

In late November and early December paramilitaries drove thousands of 'The Bees' a pacifist religious movement from there homes in Chenalho. On the 12th the EZLN issue a warning that government paramilitaries are planning a massacre in the region of Chenalho. On December 22nd 1997 pro-government paramilitaries entered the community of Acteal and over the course of several hours massacred 45 refugees there.

November 1997

There is still no sign of the government honouring its commitments under San Andres. Instead paramilitary activity is rapidly increasing. An assassination attempt on Bishop Ruiz is widely seen as a sign that the government strategy is becoming more violent. Unfortunately this will prove to be the case.

October 1997

The army builds a new base close to La Realidad


The government had largely succeeded in preventing Zapatistas openly leaving Chiapas. In September this confinement was spectacularly smashed when 1,111 Zapatistas travelled to Mexico city for the National Indigenous Congress and to observe at the founding conference of the FZLN.

August 1997

A sequence of army moves in August make it appear that the army may be pulling units out of Chiapas. However within days they return to try and reoccupy one site leading to a prolonged confrontation between thousands of unarmed Zapatistas and the army. A founding conference for the FZLN is announced to take place in Mexico city in September and the Zapatistas announce that 1,111 of them will march to this conference!

July 1997

Elections are held in Chiapas at a time of great tension, the Zapatista communities boycott them, towards the end of the month the second Encounter starts in the Spanish state

April - May 1997

As the state sponsored paramilitary groups become more blatant in their operations the military build up reaches massive proportions. In early July there will be elections and in advance of these tensions build up in Chiapas as many communities fear military action in advance of these elections.

March 1997

The EZLN criticises the ease with which the Cocopa has backed down in the face of government hostility to their proposal. US military aid to Mexico becomes an issue of increasing concern as evidence mounts that it is being used in Chiapas. Four people are killed in one Zapatista community when it is attacked by a military helicopter.

Feb. 1997

The CNI release a report one year after the signing of San Andres. Meanwhile in the north of Chiapas more evidence emerges that the government is promoting civil war.

January 1997

The largest demonstration of Zapatistas to date takes place in San Cristo'bel. Later in the month reporters are shown evidence that the Mexican army is trying to ambush Marcos. On the 19th the government effectively rejects the law drafted by Cocopa which would have implemented the San Andres agreement.


November - December 1996

It becomes clear the government is stalling and seeking ways to avoid making the legal changes required by the San Andres agreement. Later this period will be seen as the start of the 'Low Intensity War' directed against the Zapatista support base.

Oct 1996

Tension mounts at the start of the month when the EZLN announce their intention to travel to Mexico City to take part in the National Indigenous Congress and the government says they will be arrested if they do so. Eventually it is announced that Commadante Ramona who needs to travel for medical attention will go.

* September 1996

The Zapatistas explain more of there reasons for breaking off the talks and lay down conditions for the talks to restart.

* August 1996

The Zapatistas react to the growing military build up and the racism towards their delegates at the talks by breaking off the dialogue. At the same time Marcos reminds us that unlike the EPR they do not want to seize power.

July 1996

The First Intercontinental Encounter is held at five different Zapatista communities in Chiapas. About 3,000 people from 43 countries attend.

June 1996

On June 7th two of the key political prisoners Elorriaga and Entzin are released clearing the way for resumption of the dialogue. Marcos makes his first public statements on the new rebel army, the EPR that had appeared elsewhere in Mexico

May 1996

The jailings of Elorriaga and Entzin for 13 years for 'terrorism, rebellion and conspiracy' are seen as a declaration of war against the FZLN by many commentators and threaten to end the peace process.

April 1996

The process to build up to the First Intercontinental Gathering For Humanity and Against Neoliberalism gets underway with the holding of the American encounter at Realidad.

March 1996

The CCRI warn against the dangers of a low intensity war. To mark international womens day 5,000 Zapatista women march through San Cristo'bel, this is also the second unarmed Zapatista mobilisation. Late in the month Oliver Stone arrives in La Realidad to meet Marcos as the first in a line of 'celebrity' visitors.

Feb 1996

On the 10th the first large scale civil mobilisation of Zapatistas takes when place when hundreds march on the occupied town of Guadalupe Tepeyac. San Andres accords are signed on the 17th

January 1996

A busy month! The San Andres accords are agreed after months of negotiations, Marcos goes to San Cristo'bel to address the National Indigenous Forum called by the Zapatistas. The first campaign to expel foreigners begins in the wake of this. At the end of the month the Zapatistas call for the creation of the FZLN and the holding of the encounters for Humanity and against Neoliberalism


October - December 1995

The release of one of the political prisoners is obtained so the EZLN call off the Red Alert

August - September 1995

The voting in the consultation begins

July 1995

More details emerge of the purpose of the Consulta, meanwhile in Guerrero the police massacre 17 campesinos at Aguas Blancas

June 1995

The Zapatistas call for national and international Civil Society to take part in a consultation to decide the future direction of us all

May 1995

The government suggestions from San Andres are rejected by the communities. Meanwhile a 'traitor' group of the rebel Chiapas assembly starts its own negotiations with the government.

April 1995

Talks are finally agreed to take place at San Andres Sacanichen de los Pobres, however at the start of the talks the government objects to the large number of civilian supporters of the EZLN who have come to the town to show their support.

March 1995

The EZLN retreat continues as national and international protests grow. A discussion by letters starts between the government and the EZLN to set conditions for a new dialogue.

February 1995

Without warning the government puts out arrest warrants for people whom it claims are senior Zapatistas and the army goes on the offensive into Zapatista areas. The EZLN retreat to the hills, holding their fire and appealing to Civil Society.

January 1995

The EZLN starts the year by calling for a National Liberation Movement


December 1994

Ernesto Zedillo has been inaugurated and the Zapatistas, feeling Civil Society has abandoned them, prepare for war. After the imposition of the PRI governor there follows a day 10 mobilisation ending on the 19th. The Zapatista area is massively expanded to 38 or 1/3 of Chiapas municipalities. The military are left chasing ghosts.

October 1994

After the elections in which large scale fraud by the PRI occurs the CCRI warn that the

August 1994

The Zapatistas hold a national meeting for civil society in a specially constructed compound

June 1994

The communities decide to reject the dialogues conclusions but also decide not to be back to war. The Second declaration below suggests a different way forwards. The period from the rising to the second declaration is covered in far more detail in !Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution, many of the documents below were taken from this source.

March - May 1994

The communities were consulting about the outcome of the 'Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas'. In this time the army is building up its forces.

February 1994

A cease fire has been and a "dialogue will begin between the federal government and the EZLN, with the purpose of finding a just and dignified political outcome appropriate to the present conflict"

January 1994

On January 1st a previously unknown force, the EZLN emerges in Southern Chiapas and seizes control of four towns

Pre - January background documents

Other histories

This complete history of the peace talks which is regularly updated provides a good summary of events since the rebellion

To the Mexico page