Hard to believe it, but the antigovernment insurgency in Mexico's Chiapas state is now ten years old. By most accounts, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, aka Zapatistas or EZLN, rose up angry on January 1, 1994 to protest and resist the implementation of NAFTA, among other things -- but the struggle by the landless people of impoverished southern Mexico against social and economic wrongs has been going on much longer. Some say five hundred years.
The East Bay's Chiapas Support Committee wanted to do something to commemorate the uprising and also to raise money for the municipio of San Manuel, Chiapas. That's how tonight's Fire and Word Zapatista New Year's Party was born. From 8:30 p.m. till 2 a.m. at Humanist Hall in Oakland, revolutionaries as well as righteous rock 'n' rollers will be entertained by such acts as Orixa (rock en español) from Oakland, the Bodhi Busick band (world music) out of Nevada City, the Cuauhtonal Aztec Dancers, Richmond's Son de la Tierra (traditional son jarocho music from Veracruz), and various spoken-word performers, including Salvadoran poet Rolando Carrillo. The price for this evening of tunes and agitprop is $15, all of which will go to the Zapatistas.
Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez, president of the nonprofit, all-volunteer Chiapas Support Committee, says the fund-raiser's goal is to provide money to build a regional supply warehouse in San Manuel, a region in the jungle where people live in extreme poverty. "The current situation in Chiapas," she declares, "is that the Zapatistas continue in their resistance to the globalization of their land and resources." It's a fight that pits some 60,000 federales against civilians -- most of them indigenous people -- bent on establishing collectives and autonomous government. The clash is as old as the warfare between the indios and the Spanish conquistadores. But the indigenous cultures involved -- and the music you'll hear on New Year's Eve -- will carry on. For more info, e-mail email@example.com or call 510-654-9587. Humanist Hall is at 390 27th St., Oakland.
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