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By Thomas Benjamin

Chiapas, a kingdom in southern Mexico, burst into foreign information in January 1994. numerous thousand insurgents, given a voice within the communiques of Subcomandante Marcos, took keep an eye on of the capital and different key cities and held the Mexican military and executive at bay for weeks. Proclaiming themselves the Zapatista military of nationwide Liberation, they captured either land and headlines. all over the world, humans desired to be aware of the reply to 1 query: why had revolutionaries taken over a Mexican country? No different examine of Chiapas solutions that query as completely as does this publication. The rebellion and government's armed profession of the kingdom are however the most modern violent episodes in a quarter that's now and has constantly been a wealthy land labored by way of terrible humans. via learning the impoverishment of the laboring type in Chiapas, Benjamin addresses how the Chiapan elite survived the Revolution of 1910 and stay in charge of the state's improvement and future. extra truly than a person else, Benjamin exhibits in his new ultimate bankruptcy that the modern agrarian rebellion is the legacy of Chiapan underdevelopment.

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Additional info for A Rich Land, a Poor People: Politics and Society in Modern Chiapas

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At a time of high coffee prices, these planters expanded into Chiapas in search of virgin and inexpensive land. Their success in Guatemala and the high coffee prices of the late 1880s and early 1890s led to a natural spillover into Mexico. 4 Most of the early purchases of land for coffee cultivation were made for only centavos per hectare. These acquistions were from survey and colonization companies, which had obtained from the federal government the right to sell and colonize more than 4 million acres of public lands in Chiapas.

20 The most important reasons, however, were unstated. First was the desire to establish an entirely new governing center and bureaucracy, free of the pernicious influences that plagued all governments in San Cristóbal. When the government did move to Tuxtla some Cristobalense government officials refused to followa result Rabasa had anticipated. Second, the move represented an important geographical reorientation of 44 45 Chiapas. San Cristóbal was located on the trade route to Guatemala, and most of the important Cristobalense families maintained close ties with Guatemala, while Tuxtla Gutiérrez was the self-proclaimed gateway to Mexico City.

69 In 1885 the editor of the official newspaper of the state government admitted that peonage was lamentable but argued the system was justified by the existence of a labor scarcity and the "natural laziness'' of the Indian. Former governor Miguel Utrilla that same year explained that peons knew their rights and received paternal treatment except in the Department of Pichucalco. There, he noted, the work was unhealthy, the debts hereditary, and workers were chained and shackled. S. "71 Indebted servitude in Chiapas was not a lingering symptom of a past illness but a spreading cancer that enriched a few but impoverished many.

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