At first glance, the city of San Cristobal del las Cases is a peaceful colonial town in the Southern Mexican Mountains. The drug wars of the northern states don’t affect the people living here. As in all tourist destinations, the streets are lined with shops and restaurants catering to their needs.

I’ve arrived just before Christmas, and it’s full of Mexicans getting away from their homes. The three principal carless streets throng with people in the evening. The atmosphere is electric. I spot a skating rink near the Zocalo or central park, is full of people attempting this new sport. Amazingly, some succeed, while friends help the others.   Sadly, others fall. All new skaters must do that sometime!

I think that all is peaceful and that it has always been this way until I stumble on Sonido Rebolde Real de Guadalupe. Zapatista souvenirs and posters line the store’s walls.

Rebel goods for sale

Who are the Zapatistas?

The Zapatistas are a Chiapas-based rebel group, named after Emiliano Zapata, a Mexican peasant revolutionary in the early twentieth century. They rebelled against the Mexican government in 1994, aiming to bring attention to the extreme poverty of Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Many survive only on rice and beans. Their goal is to improve living conditions, not gain power. They’re still active today, but in a peaceful way, managing hospitals, schools and a system of government.

The Zapatista’s influence extends beyond Mexico, where they’ve influenced many protest movements. It is said they influenced movements in Spain, the US and Greece as global poverty and non-representation rates grow.

San Cristobalde las Casas view

San Cristobal del las Cases

San Cristobal del las Cases remains a peaceful, colonial city high in the mountains with a thriving market, pedestrian streets, and great restaurants.  The surrounding, isolationist villages offer an insight into life not found elsewhere in the world.

San Cristobal del las Cases and Chiapas’s location
San Cristóbal de las Casas Placeholder
San Cristóbal de las Casas

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