Masked Group Fights Against Injustice

Our first encounter was four years ago. It was not very personal or intimate, but while watching him on the TV screen, this masked man left me feeling wonder and intrigue. How could one forget such a man? His leadership, his words, his cause, his voice and his eyes were etched in my memory years before I would realize how important he really is. Placed on posters and T-shirts with the faces of leaders such as Emiliano Zapata and Ernesto Guevara, Subcomandante Marcos stands out as a living leader for the indigenous people of Mexico.

An alluring feature of Marcos lies in his mystery. The whole Zorro mystique surrounding the masked man fighting for the people is intriguing. Marcos uses his words rather than a sword to fight, though the mark of the Z now represents the cause and presence of the Zapatistas. And in this case, the mask is not worn by just one, but by all.

Though the brilliance and strategy of Marcos as an individual cannot be denied, one man alone is not enough to change years of oppression and under-representation. It takes the collaborative effort of a group willing to fight and persevere through time for its cause. Though Marcos is viewed as the front man for the Zapatistas, he does not stand alone.

The black mask that Marcos wears, like all Zapatistas, is symbolic of unity. The masking allows for individuals to put aside physical features and to come together on one level, as one face.

The journey of the Zapatistas is not one followed only by indigenous peoples or Mexicans; it possesses an array of international support. The Zapatistas appeal to groups ranging from gay and lesbian activists to feminists. These groups recognize that the fight of the Zapatistas is a fight for all peoples who suffer injustices, discrimination, intolerance and exclusion. The all-encompassing nature of the Zapatistas is amazing and inspiring. There are not many groups that can draw such an mixed crowd of people, a mix that may have its differences but shares a common cause to protest.

Sadly, many readers will be seeing the names of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas for the first time in this article. Many Americans are ignorant of the happenings in Mexico, despite the recent nature and proximity of the events. Although the Zapatistas have been one of the first groups to use the Internet as a communicative tool, yet many people are still unaware of their struggle.

The recently completed “”Zapatour,”” the trek of the Zapatistas from their base in Chiapas to the capital of Mexico City, went largely unnoticed by U.S. media. It was front page news when the group first embarked on the journey, but it soon disappeared from the news completely.

Was it not entertaining enough for the American public to read about one of the largest grassroots movements in years? This was an event that drew international attention, and it was still not enough to bring proper exposure and explanation of the situation to the American public. It is even more frustrating to think that soon it will be completely out of the “”newsworthy”” category unless it involves death or U.S. intervention.

The United States seems to ignore the problems in Mexico because they might hit a little too close to home. Oppression and mistreatment of indigenous peoples? Certainly that would never happen here in the United States. The plight of the Native Americas in this land is all too similar to that of the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

The public’s mild obsession with Marcos is more than justified, as he is a man fighting for a cause and selflessly supporting the people who deserve to be given the rights long overdue to them.

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