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Masked Development: Exploring the Hidden Benefits of the Zapatista Conflict

Daniel Zaga Szenker ()

No 202, HiCN Working Papers from Households in Conflict Network

Abstract: In 1994, the Zapatistas took up arms claiming for indigenous people rights in Chiapas, Mexico. After 12 days of civil war, the government called for dialogue. Nevertheless, since then, it has deployed a "low intensity war" over the Zapatistas. At the same time, the Zapatistas started to implement a new set of institutions, which have allegedly enhanced their socio-economic situation. The purpose of this study is to elucidate this ambiguous theoretical effect on the wellbeing of the communities under harassment. This paper generates a unique dataset, linking socio-economic variables from the Mexican Census with different measures of conflict intensity at the locality level, based on geo-coded influence areas. The present investigation controls for the endogeneity in the relationship between conflict and the socio-economic performance, instrumenting the former by the distance from each locality to a strategic military spot defined by the Zapatista Army. The results imply that the impact of the Zapatista institutions has surpassed the negative effect of the civil strive, suggesting that: i) bottom-up policies carried out by grass-root organizations, even in times of conflict, might represent an appropriate path for development; and ii) the Mexican government should recognize the Zapatista autonomy and its right for self-determination.

Keywords: Conflict; War; Zapatistas; EZLN; Institutions; Indigenous; Chiapas; Mexico (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I32 J13 O12 O54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2015-12
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Working Paper: Masked Development: Exploring the Hidden Benefits of the Zapatista Conflict (2014) Downloads
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