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Fanons three stages related to the indigenous people

Fanon's Three Stages Related to the Indigenous People of Chiapas

The passage Shadows of Tender Fury by Subcommander Marcos of the

Zapatista Army explains that the people of Chiapas are currently facing a period

of revolution. The Zapatista army (consisting of Chiapian campesinos) has risen

to combat the intolerant system of oppression by the Mexican government and has

attempted to create a better lifestyle for the campesinos of Chiapas. Frantz

Fanon's three stages to national culture; assimilation, self discovery, and

revolution, relate to the struggle of the campesinos of Chiapas. In the last

500 years, the indigenous people of Chiapas have faced all three of Fanan's

stages during their struggle for the development of a national culture.

Five-hundred years ago when the first Europeans came in contact with the

Mayan Indians, the first stage of Fanon's theory, assimilation, began

formalizing. Throughout history the colonizers of Mexico were more

technologically advanced than the natives. The Europeans had guns, cannons and

massive ships. Not only did these possessions enable them to have greater brute

force, but it took the white man to the level of the gods in the eyes of the

natives. The colonizers could easily take advantage of this reverence. Fanon

states "The effect consciously sought by colonialism was to drive into the

natives' heads the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once

fall back into barbarism, degradation, and bestiality."(Fanon 211) The

colonizers, believing the natives were savages that needed enlightenment, forced

European culture upon them. The Europeans believed that to assimilate the

natives to European culture was to help them progress. Therefore, to return to

the old ways would have been regressing. When the natives objected to the

forced assimilation, the colonizers smothered the rebellious efforts with

stronger, more lethal weapons. Fanon compares the colonizer to a mother who

restrains her "perverse" child so that he will not commit suicide.(Fanon 211)

The analogy implies that the colonized must be protected (by the colonizer) from

self-destruction. In the minds of the European colonizers, this idea of

protection justified forcing assimulation onto the natives.

Although the native campesinos (the poor people of Chiapas) haven't

fully assimulated, they have adopted particular aspects of European and present

day Mexican culture. The campesinos have learned the Spanish language and

joined the catholic religion. An example of Fanon's first phase is when the

colonizer tries to calm the angry, poor and exploited colonized people by

promising social reform.(Fanon 207) These reforms promise things such as

employment, welfare and education. According to Fanon, the government rarely

follows through with pledged social reform. They find it easier to simply

increase the number of army troops, police officers and jail cells. The

oppressors intention is to stop present campeseno rebellions by putting the

rebels behind bars and instilling fear in the rest of the community. Instead of

attempting to help the poverty stricken people of Chiapas, the authorities are

pushing the problem into the background, hiding it and hoping it will go away on

its own.

In the diocese of Cristobal de las Casas, a Priest argues that the

campesinos should have the same rights to freedom and justice as other Mexicans.

The white ranch owners and important business men of the region fear rebellion.

They call for the "white guards", their security system, to crush any possible

uprisings and put the most threatening rebels in jail.(Marcos 42 One half of

the Mexican army is stationed in Chiapas, reminding the campesinos daily of the

futility of their situation.

In Fanon's second stage, the colonized person explores history in an

attempt to learn about his culture. Fanon explains "Perhaps this passionate

research and this anger are directed by the secret hope of discovering beyond

the misery of today."(Fanon 210) The native is frustrated and angry with life.

He immerses himself in his culture in an effort to solve the problems of present

day. The native learns about what his people have done in the past, and as a

result, he starts to look toward the future with new guidance. It is during

this second stage when the colonized people decide a revolution is the only way

to regain land and freedom. In Chiapas, the elders remember Zapata, the

revolutionary hero of the Mayans. He rose up for his people shouting, "land and

freedom." In the following excerpt, the old people find a calling to revolution

from the very land the revolution is fought for.

The oldest of the old say that the wind and the rain and the sun tell

the campesinos when they should prepare the soil, when they should plant, and

when they should harvest. They say that hope also must be planted and harvested.

And the old people say that now the wind, the rain , and the sun are talking to

the earth in a new way, and that the poor should not continue to harvest death,

now it is time to harvest rebellion.(Marcos 46)

As the second stage ages, it becomes more like the third, and soon the

idea of rebellion becomes the reality of a revolution.

Now that the need for revolution has been established, the next step is

to organize and army and wait for the suitable time to revolt. This relates to

Fanon's third stage which is rebellion. Despite the fact that the colonized

person had previously been trying to escape the problems of the present, after

learning about his culture he organizes the people to help solve the problems of

the present. He thus becomes a leader. Presently the campesinos of Chiapas are

revolting. During a peaceful demonstration, hundreds of indigenous chiapian

people walked 1,106 kilometers to the capital of Mexico to get an interview

with the viceroy.(Marcos 48) On another peaceful march to the capital the

colonized people renounced the changes relating to NAFTA. They recited poems,

spoke on the issues and sung songs.(Marcos 49) In less peaceful acts of

revolution three state troopers were kidnapped and the Pan-American Highway was

taken over. This was all in retaliation for being detained and fined for


wood to use in campesino houses. Fanon's third stage of revolution was

relevant seventy years ago with Zapata. From the very beginning of

colonialization, the area of Chiapas has had periods of revolution.(Marcos 46)

Fanon's stages describe a cycle that has continued throughout the history of

the oppressed campesinos. The day the cycle stops is the day the third stage

succeeds in converting dignity and rebellion into dignity and freedom.(Marcos

47) The campesinos will have ended this five-hundred year struggle for a

national culture.

During the past five centuries, Fanon's three stages; assimilation,

discovery of ones history and revolution, have been repeated through many people

and many communities. It is not predictable when the campesinos of Chiapas will

regain the land and freedom that they claim is rightfully theirs. The

Zapatistas and campesinos of Chiapas hope that this period of revolution will

be the final stage, and the people will have "dignity and freedom".

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