Chiapas is Mexico’s southernmost state. It shares a border with the country of Guatemala, and the states of Tabasco, Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Veracruz and Oaxaca. Chiapas is one of Mexico’s most agricultural states, along with being one of the worlds top producers of coffee, cacao, corn, beans and Mayan copal incense. It’s capital city, Tuxtla Gutierrez, is a very vibrant city, notorious for its stunning red Jacaranda trees. While Tuxtla is the largest city as well as the capital city, the most visited town would have to be San Cristobal De Las Casas. San Cristobal is a stunning colonial town nestled between beautiful mountains covered in the thick pine and conifer forests, where a very biodiverse ecosystem thrives. San Cristobal’s downtown area is around the square next to the church La Merced. The indigenous artisans from outside communities welcome you to their homeland with a warm smile on their face and offer to sell you some of their beautiful handmade artisanal crafts, and in the streets, the Mayan dialect of Tzotzil can be heard. During your stay in Chiapas, be sure to take many excursions to the cascade waterfalls of El Chiflón and Aguas Azules, these cascades are in the middle of the tropical jungles and forests, and once at the top of the trail, you can take a zip line back down.
While my stay in this wonderful Mexican paradise was, well paradise, I couldn’t stop to notice how the state suffers from extreme poverty, and happens to be Mexico’s most politically charged. 30 years ago, Chiapas underwent a militant uprising led by the EZLN (Ejercito Zapatista Liberación Nacional) otherwise known as the Zapatista movement. The Zapatistas were a more or less socialist group of indigenous militants wanting to be freed of the oppression and discrimination they underwent as being part of a conservative capitalist system. The Coca Cola Company seems to be having done harm to the local population and contributed to the environmental degradation of the region. Its factories are drying up underground water reserves, affecting the existence of the Lanacandona Rainforest and the everyday lives of many locals.
Many Left-wing political parties are actively trying to make change for the people of Chiapas, and are being involved in politics on a municipal and state-wide level, the changes we could see might be huge, and with the National, Federal and Municipal elections in Mexico on July 1st, there will be change for the better or worse. Meanwhile, the efforts of many sustainable agriculture groups and eco-projects must continue, and the justice of environmental law will be served, in order for the rights of Mexican citizens and the Earth be respected.