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LAS AMERICAS Yes, Virginia, There is a Zapanet BY BARBARA BELEJACK “I’m looking for information about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas; Mexico and particularly on their on-line activity. Does anyone know if they luzve an e-maddress in the jungle?”Tal y a Tibbon e’re slouching towards Christ mas, which is why this mes sage, posted recently on an electronic bulletin board by a New York City college student, evokes the old-fashioned editor’s response to a little girl named Virginia, whose Papa told her if she saw it in The Sun it must be so. Yes, Talya, you can find lots of information about the Zapatistas on the Internet. But there is no Santa Claus, and you can’t send e-mail to Subcomandante Marcos in the jungle. Nearly three years have passed since the January 1, 1994, uprising in Chiapas. Southern Mexico remains in a state of war that is not war, peace that is not peace; and myths about Zapatistas in cyberspace continue to fly through the Internet. While the politics behind the onagain/off-again peace process remain elusive, there is a wealth of background information in cyberspace. For those trying to get beyond the mythology and the frequently misunderstood relationship between the Zapatista movement and the Internet, a good place to start is the collection of web articles posted by Harry Cleaver, a University of Texas professor and political activist. Cleaver was part of the on-line team of editors and translators that produced Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution, in 1994. Their work has since been published in hard copy, but you can still read the material for free on the Net \(gopher:// homepage and links to an article called “The Zapatistas: the Electronic Fabric of Struggle.” Although filled with theory and theorizing, the article is well worth reading to the end. Cleaver offers the most comprehensive current review of the relationships between Zapatistas, activists, academics, computer networks, mainstream media, and government spin doctors. \(http://www. eco. u texas . edu/homepages/facu lty/Cleaver will also direct you to military an tank analysts who have made th iiz pioneering the ‘concepts “cyberwar” response tq technology hi anyoneto Much ~s Internet ,sterns fr6M press d.irin g While prod Iles touting the can technoer many in the changes in ii etworks of grassroo 7 aanizations and academics in depar0A”‘ of anthropology, Latin Amen coniputer science, etc. \(N.. power of thpilltgogl. students computer tiiiiliktfikOn’ cators w ith readerships th the world’s major news those who caught the Interned guard was Justin Paulson. As an is uate at Pennsylvania’s SwarthrriO: Paulson created. ,Ta Basta! Page, a web site \(with no formal ties to the “to provide reliable information on the Zapatista uprising and serve as a mouthpiece for the Zapatistas in cyberspace ‘ Paulson has since graduated, but Ya Basta! lives on, along with the English-version of the Frente Zapatista page \(http://www , Spanish-language version, produced in Mexico Citynot the Lacandon jOnglecan be Another recent develop mer ,/, patista, Co ‘rnM” 60tif if I versations at last summer’s International Encounter of activists in Chiapas. As you may have gathered by now, Austin is a hotbed of Zapatista activity and high-tech know-how. Among other sites worth checking are “The Zapatista Net of Autonomy and Liberation,” a mix of radical chic and good information at http://www.actlab. and “Accion Zapatista,” the home page of an Austin-based solidarity group, located at http// Moving further northin the physical world, that isis the trilingual \(English avec le Mexique,” or Mexico Solidarity work-Canada for the non-francophones us \(http://www.physics.mcgill.cai Branching out further into cyberspace you might also want to see the “Chiapas eau,” which features a wide range of in ortnation and ideologies, at http://, and a site ..%pew, it only began appearing on the Internet in early December: Abya Yala Nel,, r collection of sources on indige of Mexico, Central and South A located at http://www.maxwell. There are enough web sites out there to keep Talya and other Net Navigators busy until the year 2000. But let’s hope that a major ninth doesn’t get lost in cyberspace. The reality of Chiapas’ Tzeltal and.Tzotzilspeaking populations is not the reality of the privilege\(‘ cybemauts of the world. The civilian, military and Zapatista casualties, in what Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Angel Gurria once referred to as “a War of the Internet,” were iji wt graduate students in literary theory0Stiiiiiterscience, communications or econorhics. athaid Belejack is currently in New York New England, but will return to her 1119/1/41exico City home in. January. tiers and me rit’s ation about Sole of the a gospel the . :ftfigration. Ititn of artiexies, ous to nology, :all /111111 I hilt 141 1.11,111NalgoblibiAll 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 20, 1996