Chiapas Rebellion


Chiapas (chēä´päs), state (1990 pop. 3,210,496), 28,732 sq mi (74,416 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the capital. Chiapas is crossed by mountain ranges rising from the isthmus and extending southeast into Guatemala. They are separated by low, subtropical valleys. Paralleling the coastal plain is the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, reaching 13,310 ft (4,057 m) at Tacaná volcano. The state's principal river valley is the Grijalva, northeast of which are the central highlands. Farther to the northeast are lower ranges, lakes, and valleys, falling away toward the Usumacinta River and the rain-forested plains of Tabasco. This sparsely inhabited region contains valuable but dwindling forests of dyewoods and hardwoods and is also the site of ruined Mayan cities (notably Palenque). The area is also the retreat of the Lacandones, a gradually disappearing indigenous people often thought to be related to the ancient Maya.

The climate of Chiapas, except for the highlands, is hot. Rainfall is heavy from June to November. Subsistence crops are grown, and coffee (of which Chiapas is a leading national producer), rubber, and cacao are economically important, as is livestock breeding. The state's rich mineral resources, especially silver, gold, and copper, remain mostly unexploited, although petroleum production has become significant. Chiapas also has valuable amber deposits. The state is also a major producer of hydroelectric power from dams on the Grijalva River. In general, economic development has been hindered by remoteness and inadequate communication; however, airlines and the Inter-American Highway link Tuxtla with the highland towns, especially the pre-1892 capital, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and are opening up the interior. Tourism and ethnological research are both increasingly important. Interesting archaeological sites have been discovered near the village of Chiapa de Corzo.

Conquered with difficulty by the Spanish, Chiapa, as it was then called, was attached to the captain generalcy of Guatemala. Never part of colonial Mexico, quasi-independent Chiapas was annexed by the republic following the collapse in 1823 of the empire of Agustín de Iturbide. Its people, however, many of them members of highland Maya tribes, resisted the central government in various uprisings. In early 1994 several towns in Chiapas were briefly occupied during an uprising by peasants, who remain on the socioeconomic and political margins in the state. Armed conflict was brief, and the rebels (the Zapatista National Liberation Army) established control in a number of communities after a truce was declared. The Zapatistas have continued to press for greater autonomy for all of Mexico's indigenous communities, and there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Chiapas Rebellion: Selected full-text books and articles

Why Did Chiapas Revolt? By Simpson, Charles R.; Rapone, Anita Commonweal, Vol. 121, No. 11, June 3, 1994
Chiapas: An Uprising Born of Despair By Renner, Michael World Watch, Vol. 10, No. 1, January-February 1997
Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory By Mathias Albert; David Jacobson; Yosef Lapid University of Minnesota Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 11 "The Political Nature of Identities, Borders, and Orders: Discourse and Strategy in the Zapatista Rebellion"
Mass Media and Foreign Policy: Post-Cold War Crises in the Caribbean By Walter C. Soderlund Praeger, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "The Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas, 1994"
Redefining Mexican "Security": Society, State & Region under NAFTA By James F. Rochlin Lynne Rienner, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "The Indegenous and Mexican Security: Chiapas and Southern Mexico"
Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor By Paul Farmer University of California Press, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Lessons from Chiapas"
Inevitable Partnership: Understanding Mexico-U.S. Relations By Clint E. Smith Lynne Rienner, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Mexico in 1994: A Year of Turbulence" begins on p. 77
Zapata's Revenge: Free Trade and the Farm Crisis in Mexico By Tom Barry South End Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: Chap. Nine "A Call to Arms"
A Concise History of Mexico By Brian Hamnett Cambridge University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: "The Chiapas Question and the Indigenous Problem" begins on p. 295
Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico By Lynn Stephen University of California Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: "When Rebellion Turns to Low-Intensity War" begins on p. 15
A Theology If Insurrection? Religion and Politics in Mexico By Floyd, J. Charlene Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 50, No. 1, Summer 1996
Mexico Faces the 21st Century By Donald E. Schulz; Edward J. Williams Praeger, 1995
Librarian's tip: "The Year of Living Dangerously: The Revolt in Chiapas and the Colosio Assassination" begins on p. 12
The Challenge of Institutional Reform in Mexico By Riordan Roett L. Rienner Publishers, 1995
Librarian's tip: "El Grito de Chiapas" begins on p. 168"
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