Zapatistas Rising, Chiapas, Mexico 2018
I painted this under a Frangipani tree in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico on the return from a very special event that I reached purely by chance. A woman in the streets of Sancri asked me how to get to a particular mountain village where an international gathering from women of all the world was being held in an autonomous Zapatista community, or ‘caracol’. I was completely unaware of the event, but happened to arrive in town the day it started. The event was the first of its kind and one for which women from all over South America and beyond had journeyed to reach. Naturally I wasn’t going to miss it. Arriving to this caracol in the lush Chiapas hills, I was overwhelmed with the organisation and strength of the Zapatista people who had welcomed women of all nations into their community to learn from one other and share ideas for how to fight against the oppression of the capitalist systems that depreciate both women, their communities and the natural environment. Whilst this 3 or 4 day meeting full of ideas, music, sports and art took place, the Zapatista men supported everyone on the inside by cooking for and washing up after all the women who participated. The Zapatista or Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) is a far-left libertarian-socialist political and militant group that controls a substantial amount of territory in Chiapas. They have stood up against colonialism and its legacy of poverty and inequality, of racism, and exploitation. Another base of theirs that I visited was equally inspiring. Their communities are based strongly on education and knowledge, around being self-sustaining, capable of all types of craft work and working in harmony with the environment. They are a dignified group who are a ray of hope against the capitalist system that has failed to protect indigenous people and the natural world. They have my full respect and support and I feel honoured to be part of such a special event.