By Luiza Bourne
Maya Civilization got destroyed and conquered by Spain over 500 years ago, but guerrillas on the south of Mexico still work on getting the land back to its people. Oventic, a small village at Chiapas state, is the official town for the Zapata movement.
“You are in Zapatista territory. Here the people command and the government obeys,” says the infamous sign at the bottom of the mountain. The hilly municipality has a militia-controlled entrance where every visitor must stop and answer a questionnaire that asks, between other identification questions, what organization you’re part of.
Up the ladder, a foggy vibe surrounds the graffiti painted walls. Houses are adorned with revolutionary impact quotes and famous activist figures such as Guevara and Commander Marcos, the leader of Zapatism. Marcos is a pseudonym, and at Oventic you’ll learn that it refers to the first letters of the pueblos that are to be reached by the snail:
A – Altamirano
R – Rancho Nuevo
C – Comitan
O – Ocosingo
S – San Cristobal
The symbol of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is a snail, representing that ideas are to twirl and advance from the centre to the villages.
In 1994, EZLN got the world’s attention when declared war against Mexico government and armed insurgents took over San Cristobal de Las Casas. Roughly a year later, the Mexican army attacked and regained control over that territory. Since then, the Zapatas have put their guns down but their ideology has helped Mexican natives to be heard and solicited.
Although the movement has claimed to be anarchist and with views of libertarian socialism, they are joining forces with the National Indigenous Congress to select a candidate for the 2018 Mexican presidential elections.
Oventic mysteriously represents what it represents more than Marcos would expect. The streets feel skeptical, shadowy due to a constant fog for its geographic characteristics, but are actually gracious, same as the EZLN ideology: to protect indigenous and rural communities from the damages of globalization.