Democracy in Mexico: Peasant Rebellion and Political Reform

Article excerpt

By Dan La Botz Boston: South End Press, 1995 274 pages. $16.00

While Democracy in Mexico seems at first glance to be an analysis of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Dan La Botz actually offers in the book a thoroughly researched dissection of the history of citizen repression in Mexico, a story that culminates in his analysis of this new movement.

The book moves quickly across a lot of ground: the double-crosses peasant leaders received after supporting the Mexican revolution, the brutal denial of worker rights, elite unwillingness to share the wealth of the oil boom, the 1968 massacre of demonstrators in Mexico City and the cavalier theft of the 1988 presidential election.

La Botz wants readers to see the Chiapas uprising in context, as an effort by the people of a tormented and repressed nation to challenge a corrupt elite that steals money, political office and human dignity from their fellow citizens. He considers the revolt the most important threat to the status quo in decades.

La Botz recounts the means by which the PRI -- the Orwellian-named Institutional Revolutionary Party -- keeps its fraudulent hold on power through tricks that would make U.S. party machine hacks envious. He also conveys the rebels' motivation, and explains how they try to function, despite military repression, as democrats through meetings and rallies designed to win public acceptance and support in rural areas. …