In This Review

The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy
The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy
By Neil Harvey
Duke University Press, 1998, 264 pp

Drawing on ten years of fieldwork in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, Harvey has brought unusual depth to this exhaustive examination of the origins of the Zapatista uprising that stunned Mexico in January 1994. Combining a strong sense of history with a detailed examination of peasant and indigenous cultures, he sheds much light on the difficulties of local politics and the feasibility of satisfying Zapatista demands in contemporary Mexico. While he praises the rebellion for bringing attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and Mexico's incomplete democratization, he recognizes the serious risks involved -- namely, the threat that ethnic Balkanization could pose to the territorial integrity of Mexico. The rebellion also deepened existing local conflicts in Chiapas by aggravating competition over municipal government, sparking violence and political polarization, and even preventing peaceful compromise. Essential reading on one of Mexico's greatest unresolved challenges.