The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN by its Mexican acronym) burst onto the political scene in Mexico in the early hours of 1 January 1994. Armed with rifles and poetic communiqués, this indigenous uprising knew how to question the neoliberal, first-world discourses that Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s government had been selling in Mexico and abroad in its bid to consolidate the establishment of the first North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But the EZLN was also able to draw links between the historical grievances suffered by its indigenous communities and the type of internal neo-colonialism that would perpetuate the total implementation of neoliberalism in the region. The EZLN was thus one of the first – and most vocal – groups to initiate a national and global social movement against globalisation.
The EZLN not only represented a new anti-neoliberal indigenous movement, but also knew how to conquer the political-cultural imaginaries of the nation and the world. The poetic communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos, his neozapatista graphics, his symbolism of the ski mask and effective use of emerging digital communications, all of these constituted elements that nourished his cause. This talk will cover the cultural resources that the EZLN employed to communicate its demands, obtain public support in Mexico and build foreign support networks in the early years of its emergence on the national and global political scene