The Children of Chiapas

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We started off our day by trying to find the place where the Zapatistas meet. Oh, I forgot to tell you why we are here. Linda is working on her Master’s Thesis about the women of the Zapatista revolutionary movement (EZLN). Anyway, we walked for many blocks and came upon the place we thought it was, but I opened the gate to a mangy dog who did not seem too happy to see us. I realized I had opened a gate to a residential courtyard. I closed the gate and Linda knocked politely instead. They informed us we had gone a few houses too far. We knocked at the right place and rang the bell. All I could imagine was that they had video surveillance and were probably wondering why two American “tourists” were knocking on their door. I anticipated them greeting us with guns strapped to their bodies, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Yet, it was disappointing when they did not answer at all.

A collectivo ride later and we were at the Human Rights Center only to find out that this too was not what we were looking for. The kind man working there pointed us in the right direction to the Human Rights Center for Indigenous people. Finally, we thought we were getting somewhere. There we met with a man who gave Linda some great information and agreed to answer some of her questions via email when he has some time. He also suggested we head to one of their small communities to attend a meeting. While both scary and exciting, it will probably be the best source of information for her thesis and hopefully will lead us in the right direction. We had little time to talk with him because we arrived around 2PM which is the beginning of their daily siesta. So, on our way we went.

We found ourselves back at the Revolucion Cafe & Bar after walking aimlessly for several blocks and decided to get some water and sit outside to soak in our surroundings. Linda asked me to take a picture of her from across the street. When I did, three indigenous girls selling bracelets, purses, and blankets wanted to see the photos on the camera. I showed them and they wanted to take more pictures and I gladly obliged. I realized one of the young girls spoke some English and we exchanged greetings: names and places of origin. I told Linda she spoke English and she decided to ask her about the impact the movement has had on her life.

A short time later, the girls joined us and we talked with them for quite a while. Three other girls joined them, one of which we had met earlier near the Cathedral. It was such an awesome experience watching Linda communicate with them and I tried to speak in Spanish with them a bit myself. I taught them how to say what they were selling in English while Julia taught Linda some Indigenous words. Linda asked Julia about the Zapatista movement and it was apparent she did not feel comfortable talking about it as she would avoid the answer and then change the subject.

I am amazed at how young the kids are wandering around the streets here day and night trying to sell things. Some of them must be no older than six or seven. The other night we ran into a little boy who was sitting outside the bar crying for over two hours saying he lost 100 pesos. Linda asked the bartender if it was a routine and apparently he does the same thing night after night.

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