The Zapatistas announced in December 2016 their plans to elect a female candidate to represent the Indigenous community.
Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, the Indigenous candidate standing in Mexico’s 2018 elections, has been campaigning in the southern state of Chiapas.
Zapatista-backed Patricio Martinez's visit to the communities of Guadalupe Tepeyac marked the first stage of her six day tour of the region.
In a speech to welcome her, “Aurora,” the representative for the local branch of the Indigenous Revolutionary Committee, said “The time has come for the representation of men and women, rural and urban areas, for a comrade who will fight for the people of Mexico.”
While the group's Commandant Everilda denounced the discrimination against campesinos, Indigenous communities as well women in Mexico and abroad.
“Recovering our freedom and right to justice will only come from the people, and no one else,” she added, “not from political parties, not from the corrupted elites, not from the capitalists...the life of the Mexican people, the planet and humanity depend only on the mobilization of campesinos and workers.”
Patricio Martinez is the spokeswoman for the National Indigenous Congress, the political arm of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, EZLN, and was elected in May as the group’s 2018 presidential candidate.
She has promised not to accept any funding from the government to run her campaign.
Mexico’s major political parties have struggled to gain support in recent years, and voter surveys show all presidential hopefuls vying to win support from as much as a third of the electorate.
The front-runner in most polls is the former Mexico City leftist mayor and two-time presidential runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The ruling centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is barred by law from seeking a second term, has yet to pick a candidate.
Coming from the Nahua community of Tuxpan, in the state of Jalisco, Patricio Martinez is a traditional doctor in her community, founder of the health center Calli Tecolhuacateca Tochan in 1992 and a long-time leader in the Indigenous movement.
Her support from the Zapatistas marks a more visible turn for the insurgent movement, which has faded in recent years.
Just after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into force in 1994, the EZLN led armed indigenous insurgents in a “declaration of war” against the government in southern Chiapas state.