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05-Sep-2017 01:30

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Since their 1994 uprising was countered by the Mexican army, the EZLN has abstained from military offensives and adopted a new strategy that attempts to garner Mexican and international support.

The Zapatistas describe themselves as a decentralized organization.

The EZLN stressed that it opted for armed struggle due to the lack of results achieved through peaceful means of protest (such as sit-ins and marches).

throughout Mexico, but as this did not happen, they used their uprising as a platform to call the world's attention to their movement to protest the signing of NAFTA, which the EZLN believed would increase the gap between rich and poor people in Chiapas—a prediction affirmed by subsequent developments.

Despite these circumstances, President Zedillo decided to launch a military offensive in an attempt to capture or annihilate the EZLN's main spokesperson, a figure around which a cult of personality was already forming.

The Zapatistas retained some of the land for a little over a year, but in February 1995 the Mexican army overran that territory in a surprise breach of ceasefire.

On the morning of January 1, 1994, an estimated 3,000 armed Zapatista insurgents seized towns and cities in Chiapas, including Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Huixtán, Oxchuc, Rancho Nuevo, Altamirano, and Chanal.

They freed the prisoners in the jail of San Cristóbal de las Casas and set fire to several police buildings and military barracks in the area.

The EZLN also called for greater democratization of the Mexican government, which had been controlled by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, also known as PRI) for 65 years, and for land reform mandated by the 1917 Constitution of Mexico but largely ignored by the PRI.

The EZLN did not demand independence from Mexico, but rather autonomy in the forms of land access and use of natural resources normally extracted from Chiapas, as well as protection from despotic violence and political inclusion of Chiapas' indigenous communities.

The guerrillas enjoyed brief success, but the next day Mexican army forces counterattacked, and fierce fighting broke out in and around the market of Ocosingo.