Political Violence During The Zapatista Uprising Writing Sample

Overview of the Zapatista Uprising: Causes and Results

The Zapatista uprising commenced on January 1, 1994, in the Chiapas Federal District, Mexico. It was launched by a guerilla group called the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), comprised of the members of the indigenous population dwelling in Chiapas. The EZLN declared war against the Mexican government who neglected the indigenous community for a long time. This lack of interest in the well-being of the Chiapas Indian population was the major factor predisposing to the unfolding of the conflict.

According to Vargas, by engaging in the rebellion the EZLN demanded improvements in living conditions, better education and healthcare, general respect for their ethnic identity, the democratization of the local political system as a whole, and fulfillment of other basic needs (2). Noteworthily, the uprising commenced when Mexico was about to enact NAFTA (Vargas 5). The indigenous people of Chiapas regarded the new law as a threat to their interests as the act was going to exclude them from the local market, making their situation even worse.

Initially, the Mexican government responded to the armed rebellion with military aggression, yet credible data on the number of deaths and injuries during the 12 days of fighting is not available. Consequently, the government agreed to review the EZLN’s list of thirty-four specific “Demands and Engagements to Achieve a Dignified Peace in Chiapas” and started negotiations (Vargas 4). As a result, indigenous peoples of Mexico were granted “legal equality,” which however did not contribute to the improvement of their economic, legal, or political situation drastically (Vargas 40).

Some minor social programs were initiated by the government as well. Nevertheless, Gilberth and Otero consider that the uprising contributed to the development of a vast civil movement that has become “a driving force in Mexico’s democratization” (7). However, it is valid to say that the overall outcomes of the Zapatista uprising can be regarded as unsuccessful because indigenous people in Chiapas are still discriminated and their quality of life remains low. Due to this, tensions between the parties involved in the conflict continue up to date.

Theoretical Analysis

The Zapatista uprising can be analyzed by using the rational choice theory and the social identity theory which provide different perspectives on the causes that led to the escalation of the political violence in Mexico. The origins of the rational choice model have their roots in the field of economy and the work of a famous economist, Adam Smith, who argued that self-interested competition is the driver of economic development in the free market (Paternoster et al. 2).

Consequently, the rational choice theory was employed in the fields of criminology and social psychology to analyze different types of violence, including terrorism. The theory suggests that any form of violence is a result of “a self-interested appraisal of the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action, with the action taken being the one with the greatest perceived utility” (Paternoster et al. 2). The core arguments of the theory are as follows: a person/group decides to commit a crime rationally, their decision-making involves the weighting of potential costs and benefits, and their final decision to engage in violence/offense is affected by the immediate contextual factors (Paternoster et al. 3). Overall, self-interest can be regarded as a primary theoretical concept in the given framework.

It is valid to say that the costs of non-involvement in the political conflict were immense for the EZLN and the members of the indigenous community in Chiapas. According to Vargas, since the colonial era, they have been exposed to discrimination from another ethnic group, caciques, based in the same southern state, who often used violent and illegal means to deprive Indians of their land and property (8).

To fight these injustices, indigenous people of Chiapas occasionally rebelled before 1994 as well, yet their actions did not lead to any improvements (Vargas 8). Thus, the whole of their previous experiences could lead them to rationalize that larger-scale actions should take place and involvement in violence was in their best interest. Otherwise, everything would remain the same or would become even worse under NAFTA.

Ethnic and social discrimination is the major cause of the Zapatista uprising as per the social identity theory as well. As noted by Cuhadar and Dayton, the theory is based on the assumptions that “human beings are, by nature, a pattern recognition species and that the human ability to distinguish between objects, circumstances, and behavior is a functional cognitive process necessary for survival” (274). As a result of this categorization pattern, people create in-groups (us) and out-groups (others) (Cuhadar and Dayton 274). It is valid to say that others are frequently regarded as a threat, especially when inter-group interactions are characterized by inequality.

Since its very formulation, the social identity theory focused on the investigation of intergroup discrimination and stereotyping. As reported by Gilbreth and Otero, findings of the studies that employed the social identity theory concepts revealed that high-status groups tend to be more discriminatory than lower-status groups and demonstrate an elevated rate of in-group favoritism (2). At the same time, it is suggested that individuals become more aware of those identities that are under a perceived threat (Cuhadar and Dayton 275).

These observations explain why caciques strived to maintain their privileges, exclude the indigenous people from politics, and maintain their low social status. Caciques’ in-group favoritism is the main reason why indigenous people lived and continue to live in poverty and lack such basic resources like water and electricity and why caciques are among the wealthiest populations in Mexico (Vargas 8). The core theoretical arguments also explain why Indians fought for the rights of their ethnic group. The experience of constant discrimination from caciques and the Mexican government obviously humiliated them. Therefore, the engagement in political violence may be regarded as the EZLN’s efforts to restore a positive in-group image.

Conclusion

The introduced theories are complementary in the analysis of the Zapatista uprising as they help to compensate for each other’s shortcomings in explaining the sources of violence. For instance, while focusing on the concepts of social status and group identity, the social identity theory touches upon the issues of ethnic and cultural prejudices, which often lead to institutionalized discrimination in the first place. Since cultural values and beliefs frequently become the root cause of various conflicts, the inability to address these factors is the primary deficiency of the rational choice theory. However, the latter theoretical model explains the multiple facets of the conflict in greater detail than the social identity theory and allows evaluating the continuum of processes involved.

Works Cited

Cuhadar, Esra, and Bruce Dayton. “The Social Psychology of Identity and Inter-Group Conflict: From Theory to Practice.” International Studies Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 3, 2011, pp. 273–293.

Gilbreth, Chris, and Gerardo Otero. “Democratization in Mexico.” Latin American Perspectives, vol. 28, no. 4, 2001, pp. 7-29.

Oldmeadow, Julian, and Susan Fiske. “Social Status and the Pursuit of Positive Social Identity: Systematic Domains of Intergroup Differentiation and Discrimination for High- And Low- Status Groups.” Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, vol. 13, no. 4, 2010, pp. 1-25.

Paternoster, Ray, et al. “Rational Choice Theory and Interest in the ‘Fortune of Others.’” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 2017, pp. 1-22.

Vargas, Jorge A. “NAFTA, The Chiapas Rebellion, and the Emergence of Mexican Ethnic Law.” California Western International Law Journal, vol. 25, no. 1, 1994, pp. 1-80.

Ice-Campusades Business: Supply And Demand Theory

Introduction

Detailed knowledge of the concept of supply and demand is critical for any individual planning to start a small or large business. At equilibrium, there is no shortage or surplus of the targeted goods. This paper applies this theory to the presented case study of a small ice cream stand called “Ice-Campusades”.

Reasons for Fluctuation

The presented scenario reveals that the sales for ice cream have been fluctuating. There are days when the product is not sold. Sometimes the ice creams are inadequate for the available customers. This occurrence is attributable to various factors that influence demand. Since the targeted product is ice cream, the first possible cause of this kind of fluctuation is that of income availability. Coppock and Mateer indicate that many people tend to have disposable money at the beginning of every month (34). Such an example explains why the available ice creams might be insufficient for the targeted consumers during this period.

The second possible factor is that of weather. During cold days, the number of people purchasing this product will remain low. The opposite is true during hot days or periods. The third possible cause of this outcome is that of personal taste and preference (Coppock and Mateer 42). Although the same variety of ice cream is ordered every day, the scenario indicates that they are sourced from different supplies. When the taste or quality is poor, chances are high that more customers will not purchase them. A superior sweetness will encourage more people to buy the targeted ice creams.

Competition and Pricing

The decision to allow a competing student in the selected campus to sell ice creams will transform the existing level of demand. The performance of each of the two businesses will also change significantly. It is agreeable that the presence of another provider of this product will result in price reduction. The first issue to consider is that the number of students on campus will have remained constant (Coppock and Mateer 65). This is a clear indication that the same potential customers will have another option when they decide to purchase ice cream. This development represents an increase in supply.

The second aspect that comes out from this scenario is that the demand for the intended ice cream will have remained the same. This occurrence will mean that supply has increased without altering the level of demand. According to the supply and demand model, any increase in supply within a specific market will result in a surplus. This means that the price will decrease significantly if the rate of demand remains unchanged.

From this analysis, it is evident that more students will be willing to purchase ice cream from the colleague who offers competitive prices (Coppock and Mateer 73). This example explains why the other entrepreneur should factor in such changes when making his or her decisions. This is the case because the theory indicates that any rise in supply will force the equilibrium price to reduce significantly.

Conclusion

The above discussion has explained why the supply and demand theory is a powerful theory for all entrepreneurs. The model describes how any change in available products or services will affect prices significantly. The analysis has also identified a number of factors that have the potential to impact the purchasing and consumption behaviors for ice cream. These aspects can guide the two students to make evidence-based decisions in order to achieve their business aims.

Work Cited

Coppock, Lee, and Dirk Mateer. Principles of Macroeconomics. 2nd ed., W. W. Norton, 2017.

American Urban Planning In “Home From Nowhere” By Kunstler

Introduction

In his book Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the Twenty-first Century, James Howard Kunstler outlined an issue with American urban planning. He expressed his disapproval of the zoning laws and the design tendencies that deprioritize longevity. He also proposed a set of new principles that concentrate on the neighborhood as the basic unit that is sufficient to satisfy most human needs without the need for a car. Since then, some builders began following the new guidelines, though many environments, particularly dense urban ones, continue showing the traits Kunstler criticized. This essay is a draft of a more substantial work that will describe a neighborhood close to the author’s using the passage’s definitions.

Construction

The location is large and spacious, with wide streets and a considerable plot of land attached to each house. However, the result is that it is challenging to get anywhere on foot, as the distances between houses are somewhat large. Most residents own a car and use it to go anywhere other than visits to nearby homes. It takes more than ten minutes to walk from one edge of the neighborhood to the other, a quality that is in opposition to Kunstler’s ideas (424). With that said, most buildings are family houses with one to three floors, with no large multistory modern buildings that would ruin the aesthetic. Most are well-decorated and have front yards that are tended according to the residents’ preferences.

Most of the houses in the area have been constructed in the past 30 to 50 years, and they adhere to Kunstler’s views of the construction methods used in the U.S. after 1945 (420). The area’s residents tend to their homes diligently, but most have still manifested fundamental issues that cannot be addressed quickly. The approach can also be seen in the similarity in the construction of many buildings, though the trait may be attributed to the fact that the same construction company built most of them. Their owners have added some unique traits to each house, but upon closer inspection, it is possible to see that they have been made out of the same materials with nearly identical layouts.

Parking

The streets in the area are broad and allow for easy passage of any traffic that enters the neighborhood. As such, there is sufficient space for parallel parking on most streets, and doing so is permitted. Kunstler disapproves of the former, noting that it is too late to change the planning, and states that the latter is desirable (426). However, with the lack of pedestrians on the street, a part of the benefits of the arrangement is lost. Most houses will have a garage built into them, and so homeowners rarely have to worry about parking space while at home. However, the concentration of shops, which do not have dedicated parking lots due to their small size, on the edge of the neighborhood sometimes leads to congestion when many cars park near them.

Public Transportation

There is little public transportation in the area, as most residents do not need it because they own cars. There are several stops throughout the neighborhood, and people use them to go on several routes out of the location. Children who ride to school and back are the most prominent users of the system, though adults and teenagers will occasionally ride the bus when their cars are unavailable. Overall, public transportation in the area is weak because it is mostly unnecessary. Kunstler disapproves of the overall arrangement, as a person needs a car and a license to be a functional member of the neighborhood (428). It is inconvenient to go out via the bus because they arrive infrequently and are mostly intended for lengthy trips.

Housing Setup

Houses occupy the middle of the neighborhood, and all of the shops and other non-residential facilities are located at its edge or along the highway adjacent to it. Due to the size of the area, it is almost impossible for most people living there to conduct their chores on foot. Kunstler disapproves of the idea as well as of the type of housing generally constructed there (427). A homeowner association operates in the area, and most of its members are middle-class people. As such, they tend to rule that only medium-size houses may be constructed in the area and that shops and businesses should stay at the edge.

Overall, the neighborhood has initially been mostly middle-class, with a few high-class homes whose owners found the location convenient. As the houses aged over the years, and some of the residents moved out, people with lower income bought or rented some of the homes, but they try to maintain the buildings’ and plots’ appearance. The homeowner association is careful to ensure that new entrants build only moderately sized and traditionally designed houses. Kunstler’s ideas include diverse housing based on one’s income, and so the area does not match them (425). There is not much opportunity for people with lower income to move in, and wealthier families tend to prefer more affluent neighborhoods.

Human and Aesthetic Needs

Overall, the neighborhood does not satisfy most human needs, particularly those of children. Kunstler’s notes about kids’ lack of access to various aspects of the public realm are highly appropriate to the situation (428). People do not meet and socialize on the streets, and local businesses are suppressed by the need to use a car for shopping trips. It is as easy for one to exit the highway and head to the nearby commercial strip as it is to stop at a smaller local shop. The houses in the area are somewhat attractive due to the homeowner association’s pressure, but there are no other features such as theaters, playgrounds, or parks. Furthermore, the houses are superficially attractive, but they lack little details that Kunstler claims to emerge in neighborhoods where pedestrians often walk past houses. As such, the population’s aesthetic needs are not fully satisfied, as well.

Conclusion

The neighborhood described in this essay matches Kunstler’s description of standard suburban America very precisely. As such, the writer would not be satisfied with it because it does not promote a high quality of public life. There are some advantages to the system, but they cannot outweigh its numerous issues. Not much has been done to change the location’s living conditions since the initial planning stage, and it remains mostly homogeneous as the houses slowly decay. The area is not suitable for small businesses, either, further forcing the residents to go to distant workplaces by car. Overall, neither human needs nor aesthetic needs, as defined by Kunstler, can be satisfied adequately by the location. However, it is going to be challenging and expensive to redesign the area to adhere to the writer’s ideas.

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