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MEXICO: How much poverty?

Tim Brown and Stephen Schwartz defend their positions. Tim says:

"I agree entirely with Linda that the very large Indian minority in Mexico is far too poor and disempowered because it has been marginalized for far too long. But I do not accept that this justifies the organized armed violence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army [EZLN] allegedly led by Sub-Comandante Marcos [aka Sebastian Guillen] because I neither accept that the end justifies the means nor that such self-appointed "leaders" are the legitimate voices of those they merely use as cannon fodder to their own ends. Recent history is rife with examples of such demagogues who speak with honey in their mouths "but inwardly are ravenous as wolves." Revolutions are often necessary things. But today revolutionary changes can and should be wrought by ballots, not bullets."

My comment: This raises two questions. The first is the real motivation of Subcomandante Marcos. It is probably a mixture of idealism and self-promotion. The second is the need for violent revolution. This is a basic issue. Those who believe in "direct action" say it is. So did Thomas Jefferson, who seemed the enjoy bloodletting.

Stephen Schwsartz asks: "If there is no middle class in Mexico, who voted for Fox? "Marcos" is not a product of the middle class, but of the top elite. I am not convinced he ever "endured the hardships of the rainforest;" rather, he commutes there in order to deliver press conferences. "Marcos" is a political athlete; he goes to the rainforest now and then to sleep on a tarp the way other rich bourgeois climb difficult mountains -- for public adulation. And everybody knows, public adulation is a form of wealth far superior to houses, big screen tvs, and limousines. For one thing, it leads to easier acquisition of those things."

My comment: Whether Marcos lives in the rainforest or just travels there for press conferences is a matter of fact about which I have no information. As for his motivation, it is clear that some people like him, some do not. Stephen Schwartz writes at length about the diversity of the Indians of Chiapas and Guatemala. All are agreed on that, but it does not affect the argument.

Ronald Hilton - 12/16/00