Third World Technology Use Essay

1526 words - 7 pages

Third World Technology Use

In recent years, information has been a hot topic. What is information and what purpose does it serve? Is information a commodity or a necessity? The insurrection of this interest is partly, if not entirely, a product of the increasing popularity of the Internet , the information superhighway and of Information technology. Deedee Halleck points out in her article, "Zapatistas On-Line" , how in the past two years, the indigenous people of the Mexican state of Chiapas have clearly answered many of these questions. It is ironic that the Internet has been used at a very powerful potential by people whom we would never even picture in the same room as a computer. ...view middle of the document...

Marcos put forward a detailed sophisticated analysis of the corruption and viciousness of the Mexican political structure and the inequities and racism of its ruling class. The rebellion set off a pro-democracy movement which has shaken the government to its roots (Cleaver 1995). The rebellion was first and always , a political revolt and only secondarily a military one. There have been no executions or assassinations. They only fought with arms for 12 days during the first few days of 1994. It did cause considerable bloodshed, even the government admits some 150+ were killed and human rights groups estimate far more than that. In mid-January, after 12 days of armed fighting, a truce was reached.

On February 9, 1995, President Ernesto Zedillo broke the 13-month cease-fire between the two sides by ordering the Mexican Army to move into territory held by the EZLN. The government troops lunged into the rain forests of Chiapas in renewed pursuit of the Zapatistas. The troops were met by a few stray dogs, some chickens, abandoned huts and a few trucks. The guerrillas had gone into the jungles and mountains of Chiapas along with thousands of their supporters from nearby villages. That does not mean they did not fight back. They took with them their most valuable equipment, fax machines and laptop computers. They fought back with words. These are the same weapons they have been using since the truce. The Zapatistas have been able to use words more effectively than most armies use tanks and military artillery (Wood 1995).

Halleck points out that an expertise with computer based text is sensed in Marcos's prose. He has definitely become the first superhero of the net(Halleck). He is recognized for his prose and effective use of words. As Darin Wood says about his communiqués, they "seem like they were written by a literature professor...be prepared for citations from Shakespeare - in the original English, with spelling and punctuation perfectly correct." This, along with the fact that the EZLN sent out over a dozen communiqués just in the first week, has led to speculation about exactly how these messages have been transmitted.

The means these messages are being transmitted through seems almost irrelevant when compared to the impact they are having. These messages, complete with literary and cultural references , have captured the imagination of the Mexican population (Halleck). Interest in the Zapatistas helped introduce many Mexicans to cyberspace (Watson 1995). The actions of these Mayan Indians have circulated beyond Mexico, into North America and eventually around the world. The speed with which news of the struggle circulated and the rapidity of the resulting mobilization is amazing. The messages were immediately translated and sometimes downloaded to newspapers and magazines as well as passed around the internet. In essence, this has made many people a part of a meaningful political movement. Even those who are simply involved in the...

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