Hundreds of Indigenous representatives at the National Indigenous Congress from all across Mexico elected a prominent Indigenous leader Sunday as their independent candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico due in 2018.
Maria de Jesus Patricio “Marichui” Martinez will be backed by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, known by it's Spanish acronym EZLN, in a break from more than two decades of the rebel group's rejecting the Mexican state and its electoral politics. Among the EZLN delegates present were Subcommandantes Mosies and Galeano — formerly known as Marcos — and Comandante Tacho.
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.
The convention and consultations, which began Friday and concluded Sunday, also included delegates from 32 states, for a total of 848 delegates from 58 Mexican Indigenous communities and was held in San Cristobal de las Casas in the southeastern state of Chiapas.
The assembly formed and also appointed counselors to its Indigenous Government Council, with Patricio Martinez as their spokesperson. The goals of the presidential campaign include organizing in every corner of the country and making the Indigenous Government Council a self-governing body.
The members debated proposals and strategies of the council, as well as its organization and networking with other sectors of the civil society, with the participation of 296 international observers, including representatives of the Apache community from the United States and the Mam community from Guatemala.
The Zapatistas came into the international scene after attacking several military installations in Mexico on Jan. 1, 1994, launching an Indigenous struggle against NAFTA and conditions in Mexico. The movement has seen victories, but also considerable challenges, including intense repression and criminalization of the struggle at the hands of the Mexican state, private landowners, and paramilitary forces.