A CALL TO ARMS
"We have nothing to lose, absolutely nothing, no decent roof over our heads, no land, no work, poor health, no food, no education, no right to choose our leaders freely and democratically, no independence from foreign interests, and no justice for ourselves and our children. We are the millions of dispossessed, and we call upon all our brethren to join our crusade."
—Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN),
Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, December 1993.
For most outside observers, the Chiapas rebellion was seen as the first armed rural rebellion since the legendary exploits of Zapata and Villa. Although it is certainly true that the absence of rural conflict has contributed to Mexico's historic political stability, especially when contrasted with the experience of its Central American neighbors, this general observation has served to obscure the history of localized violence in the Mexican countryside since the revolution.
In the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s, the Carranza and Calles governments combined repression with selective land distribution to pacify campesino militias scattered throughout Mexico. During the 1920s the government's anticlerical and antiagrarian policies led to the Cristero rebellion of campesinos concentrated in mestizo communities in central Mexico. In the 1930s President Cárdenas encouraged armed campesinos to mobilize in support of his efforts to dismantle the economic and