For many people who live in the developed world use of video cameras, VCR’s, TV’s, and computers is a daily occurrence. But when one speaks with indigenous peoples about access to this technology they say it is only a dream. For centuries outsiders have represented indigenous people and their cultures. Recently there has been an effort to get new communication technology into the hands of indigenous people so that they can represent themselves, with their own words and images. This is what the Chiapas Media Project (CMP)/Promedios is attempting to do in Southern Mexico.
In February of 1998, The CMP began as a result of conversations with autonomous Zapatista communities who were requesting access to video and computer technology. The Zapatista’s or Zapatista Army of National Liberation, are an indigenous movement made of up Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Mum and Tzeltal Mayan Indians. They became known to the world via the internet on January 1, 1994 when they staged an armed uprising and took over six towns in Chiapas demanding that indigenous rights be recognized in the Mexican constitution. Another demand was the formation of indigenous controlled TV and radio throughout Mexico.
Since 1998 the CMP has been working as a bi-national partnership to providing video and computer equipment and training to indigenous and campesino communities in Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico. The emphasis has been in the area of video production. The Chiapas Media Project is currently distributing 26 indigenous productions worldwide.