Mexico’s Zapatistas to Visit Spain 500 Years After Conquest

May 4, 2021
8:06 AM

Members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN, wait to bid farewell to a delegation that will leave for Europe on May 3, in the community of Morelia, Chiapas state, Mexico, Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

By EDUARDO VERDUGO, Associated Press

ALTAMIRANO, Mexico (AP) — The Indigenous rebels of the Zapatista movement said last week that they are planning to send a delegation by canoes on a trip to “invade” Spain in May and June as Mexico marks the anniversary of the 1519-1521 Spanish Conquest.

The Zapatistas said in announcing the trip that they hope to be in Madrid by August 13, the date that marks 500 years since Mexico City was captured from the Aztecs by the Spaniards and their Indigenous allies.

In a statement by Subcomandante Galeano —formerly known as Subcomandante Marcos— the group said that once in Spain, its members will release the message: “The invasion has started.”

The Zapatistas made no mention of demanding an apology. That is unlike the Mexican government, which has asked Spain to apologize for the brutal conquest that wound up killing millions of Indigenous people.

Far from seeking a hostile encounter, the Zapatistas said, “if we manage to land and embrace with words those who are in the struggle there, who resist and rebel, then there will be a party.”

The statement said that the seven-member Zapatista delegation will set off May 3 from the Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres, one of the first parts of Mexico where the Spaniards landed.

They will then presumably travel by sea. The statement said the Zapatistas will unfurl a banner off the Spanish coast reading “Awake!” If Spain denies them entry, they will then use their four tiny symbolic wooden canoes to paddle back to Mexico, the statement said.

“We are going to tell the people of Spain two simple things,” the Zapatistas said in another statement. “One, they did not conquer us; we are still here resisting, in rebellion. Second, they do not have to ask that we forgive them for anything.”

The Zapatistas led a brief armed uprising to demand greater Indigenous rights in 1994, and since then have remained in their autonomous townships in the southern state of Chiapas, refusing government aid programs.