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The Educated Tourist

Amanda is a junior at University of Vermont, who is studying abroad in Mexico with CGEE spring 2016; and studied abroad in Central America with CGEE fall 2015. This is an excerpt from Amanda’s blog post, “Zapatistas: Educating Yourself as a Tourist”. Her blog is a great resource for anyone considering study abroad in Latin America! She also has travel tips for traveling as woman, and traveling as a woman of color.


 

Being in Chiapas, with a strong presence of indigenous communities, I cannot help but dedicate a post to the Zapatistas. A revolutionary indigenous militant group based here in this southernmost state of Mexico, I have a great love for the Zapatistas and their movement. Indigenous people everywhere all over the world struggle under racial, economic, and political oppression and here in Mexico it is no different. The fight for justice continues and the Zapatistas are currently at the forefront of it.

The Zapatistas are also referred to as EZLN, which stands for Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional. In English, it is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The group is politically left. They are rebelling against the neoliberalism of NAFTA, the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programs, and the federal policies that threaten their way of life.

The indigenous people throughout Latin America suffer under an oppressive society and, as tourists visiting of this part of the world, it’s essential to be aware of that racial dynamic. As tourists traveling to any part of any world, it’s important to be aware of the economic, political, and social circumstances the country is currently going through. In addition, it’s important to understand the country’s history– especially for U.S. and Spanish citizens in relation to Latin America, considering the Spanish colonized and U.S. had various direct military inventions, as well as had funded various horrific civil wars. These current and past facts are something we as the public should all know about given we live in such a globalized world today and the internet is more or less right at the tips of our fingers depending on our economic class status. There really is no excuse as to why you can not educate yourself on other countries.Furthermore, it is something we should know even more if we are planning on traveling through said country. I am a firm believer that people who travel need to not only educate themselves about the prettiest beaches and best restaurants in the area but also the complex dynamics of said country.


 

Read the full blog post here – strive to be an educated tourist no matter where you travel!