Instead, they would use the help of various international organizations that they had forged strong alliances with. At which point, many of the changes that the rebels were seeking were implemented. Where, they continue to remain focused on supporting those indigenous organizations that are struggling against the injustices of globalization. This has caused the rebels to offer support to similar anti-globalization causes taking place in: Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador.
In this case, the neo-realist approach that was used by Mexican government to negotiate some kind of lasting peace agreement with the rebels, failed. For the PRI, they had to engage in such actions because they did not have popular support. This allowed the rebels to use the media to point out how they are the illegitimate government of the Mexican people. Then, when Fox became President he continued to engage in the same kind of action, the only difference is there were larger concessions. After the rebels, rejected these different agreements they created their own semi-autonomous region without the support of the Mexican government. What this shows is how the neo-liberalist approaches taken by the Mexican government essentially emboldened the rebels to take their own actions to create an autonomous region. As they could not use the army to break the will of rebels to fight; while attempting to bring them into the political process. Together, the conflicting approaches used created a situation where the Mexican government wanted peace. Yet, they were unwilling to give the rebels what they wanted. This resulted in a stalemate, which made the government ineffective with negations. Where, they could no longer use the army to achieve their objectives. Once this took place, it was essentially the Mexican government ceding the area to the rebels. This is because they are not willing to take back the power / territory the rebels control and are unwilling to give them what they want in negations. (La Rose, 2006)
The rebels, used neo-realism to create a seismic shift in their movement. In this particular case, it appeared as if the rebels were defeated, when the leadership retreated into the mountains. However, once they shifted their tactics, to focusing on using a non-violent approach through the use of: NGO's, the media and grassroots organizing. These elements would create shift in perceptions in the public, as the rebels became a symbol of the struggle against an illegitimate government. This would work to help see a change in power, where the PRI was unseated. Then, once they saw that new government would not give them what they were asking. They could use their influence within the international community and various international organizations, to garner support. This would force the Mexican government to remain in check, as the various international organizations would not stand for renewed hostilities against the rebels. In this aspect, the neo-realism approach of relying on various international organizations for support, worked to prevent the Mexican government from attempting to exert power or control over this organization. Because of the change in tactics, the Zapatista Revolution was able to transform itself into a grassroots, non-violent movement. (La Rose, 2006)
Realism vs. Neo-Realism and the Zapatista Revolution
The use of realism and neo-realism are two of the main reasons why the Zapatista Revolution took a number of unique turns, over the years. This is because, both the Mexican government and the rebels attempted to engage in realism to achieve their: political, economic and military objectives. However, when using such a theory, the most important element is: your own self-interest at the cost of everything else. In this aspect, neither the Mexican government nor the rebel leadership was willing to completely embrace this theory. Instead, they would change their tactics that they were using, where both sides would begin using a neo-realist approach. This is significant for the Mexican government, because it meant that it would be ineffective at negotiations. Due to the fact, that the PRI did not have popular support or any kind of realist approach to finish off the rebels (which would have been catastrophic). This would allow the rebels to influence the general public, by showing how the government is illegitimate and must be changed. As a result, when Vicente Fox would come to power, he would have the same results as the PRI. This would essentially leave the Mexican government powerless to control the region, yet not willing to give the rebels the autonomy they were looking for. In the case of the rebels, the change to neo-liberalism would allow them to build popular support among international organizations and within Mexico. Then, when you combine this with the fact that they were influential in the media, meant that they would see a sharp rise in influence. This would make the leadership demand that the Mexican government offer them real changes. During the negotiating process, the large support from international organizations would place the power of the Mexican government in check. Where, they could not go after the leadership and negotiations were not bearing any kind of results. Once this took place, it meant that the rebels would receive what they want in a truce by default. This is where they would impose their changes, with the support of the various international organizations. (Hart, 2006)
Clearly, the Zapatista Revolution highlights a number of different weaknesses of both realism and neo-realism. The most obvious weakness of realism is: you must act in your own self-interest no matter what. In the case of the Zapatista Revolution, this would have meant that the Mexican government and rebels would have to engage in actions that would bring into question human rights. This would go against international treaties that the Mexican government signed and the fundamentals of the rebels (equality). Instead, once it was realized that neither organization could use this theory to achieve their objectives, both began to use neo-realism. For the Mexican government, this meant that they would face negotiations that were ineffective. This would allow the rebels to make changes within the government through the political process. Once the new government began negotiating with the rebels, their concessions were not enough. What makes the situations so problematic is: the government could not use military force to achieve their objectives in negotiating. This created an impasse, which allowed the rebel leadership to engage in the kind of activities that they were fighting for. In a way, the change to the neo-realist theory would create a defacto peace treaty. Where, the rebels could impose the political and economic changes in the region. Then, when you combine this with their increasing influence in international organizations, highlights how they were able to use international pressure to place the Mexican government in check. What the Zapatista Revolution shows is that consistency must be applied to be successful with either theory. In the case of the rebels, because they were able to apply consistency to the neo-realist approaches. They were able to make significant political and economic changes. This is because they used the theory to effectively create lasting change. It is through examining how both theories can be applied in variety of situations; that will help provide the greatest insights as to how each one is constantly affecting international relations.
Goldstein, J. (2003). International Relations. New York, NY: Longman Corp.
Hart, P (2006). Bitter Harvest. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico…