Actas del II Congreso de la Región Noroeste de Europa de la Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de América Latina (ALFAL)

8.1 Introduction

This paper is a continuation of previous work presented at the XII ALFAL Conference in Santiago the Chile, the I Conference of ALFAL del Noroeste de Europa and a presentation held at the SLAS meeting in Norfolk (Montessori 1999, 2000, 2002).1 In each case I have looked at the discursive interaction between texts of the government and the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN). The first two presentations concerned analyses of the interaction between texts of the Mexican government and the EZLN. The paper presented in Norfolk focussed on regional, national and global aspects of the discourse of the EZLN. The EZLN started its armed activities on January 1st, 1994, the day on which NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) was implemented. As a protest against the consequences of neoliberalism in general, and this treaty in particular, the movement occupied several communities in the state of Chiapas, located in the southeast of Mexico. Their main demands were justice, democracy and liberty, to which autonomy for indigenous communities was added at a later stage. After a short and violent conflict against the Mexican military, they changed their struggle to a verbal war. Under pressure of civil society, the government and the EZLN engaged in a dialogue in order to negotiate a solution to the conflict.

This paper combines political state theory as developed by Bob Jessop, with discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis (CDA). According to Jessop (2002), the capitalist state is a succession of different accumulation regimes (as for instance, Fordism in Western capitalist states or Import Substitution, in Latin American States). When these periods are stable, they have a spatio-temporal fix that includes a hegemonic and political project that are connected to the dominant accumulation strategy. However, in periods of crisis, the state (and other significant groups) tends to formulate alternative strategies and a hegemonic struggle breaks out. This paper attempts to picture the struggle that went on in Mexico in the early nineties between the hegemonic neo-liberal project of the government and a counter hegemonic strategy launched by the EZLN and directed towards a pluralist democracy.

The Mexican government attempted to take the country into the First World by joining NAFTA (the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, USA and Canada). It involved a shift from the traditional nationalist developmentalist populist discourse based on the Mexican Revolution toward a neoliberal policy oriented toward international capitalism. Though this policy implies the first significant hegemonic shift since the Mexican Revolution in which premises central to the Revolution, such as the ejido system were abolished (Powell 1996:40),2 I will demonstrate in this paper that this hegemonic transformation is discursively presented as a process of continuation rather than transformation. Transformation is presented as a necessary measure to protect national sovereignty against the (imaginary?) hegemonic ambitions of neighbour states. The EZLN launched a counter-hegemonic project, meant to provoke a crisis in the traditional political system. They deny the legitimacy of the government and reject the program of neoliberal globalisation. Their struggle is directed towards two particular premises of neoliberal ideology. One is the privatization and individualization of social life and, second, the general principle of equality of individuals (Otero 2004:221). The former goes against the indigenous demand for land and self government, which includes collective forms of property. The latter is in conflict with the demand of the indigenous people for legal recognition of group cultural difference. Their aim is to call for a National Democratic Convention (CND), where an interim government will be elected whose task it will be to create a truly democratic government where freedom and justice should reign. They promote a new pluri-ethnic nationalism that will harbour "many Mexico's" within a pluralist state. Ultimately, what is at stake, is the struggle for a different relationship between the state and the indigenous people. This article compares the ways in which the government on the one hand and the EZLN on the other, construct their discourses in terms of narrativity, intertextuality and discursive strategies.

1 This paper is based on the author's doctoral dissertation in progress at the University of Lancaster (UK) and under supervision of Professor Norman Fairclough.

2 The autonomous indigenous lands guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution of 1917. It implied land that would be at the disposition of a peasant community. The land could not be bought or sold.

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Volumen 22 (2005)
ISSN: 1139-8736