Hundreds of activists and academics from around the world gathered at the International Seminar “Planet Earth: Anti-Systemic Movements” to discuss the importance of the 1994 Zapatista uprising on its 18th anniversary. In the context of the popular insurrections that have emerged this year across the globe, the seminar held from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2 in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, concluded, with Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos, that seen in retrospect Zapatista influence has been so strong that “one cannot view the left or the struggle against capitalism without this point of reference.”
De Sousa Santos stated that the explosion of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on the scene January 1, 1994 was the first major moment of global resistance to neoliberalism. The uprising gave visibility to indigenous struggles that had been growing since the eighties in Latin America and soon became the precursor to other movements.
“They taught us another way of seeing the world. They broke with Marxist orthodoxy by developing a new discourse, a new semantics and new ideas. They taught us a new organizational logic that had a fundamental influence on the whole world,” De Sousa Santos said in an interview.