Running head: Recommendation Memo Recommendation Memo Lillian Ekwosi-Egbulem University of Maryland University College, 2011Mexico: Current political situation and how it developed from the 1990s netwar.
2Recommendation MemoEXECUTIVE SUMMARYBackground Mexico “is a far cry from tradition perception of it as a laid-back and uninspiring nationonly considered part of North America by courtesy” (Klepak, 2008). Currently, Mexico isenjoying a relatively stable democracy since its first peaceful election in 2002. The currentpolitical situation has evolved from the 1990s netwars which saw the evolution of a differentkind of activists. These activists recognized the importance and the effect of modern computerand utilized it well. This fight is not so much about trotting guns but about mobilizing people ofcommon interests and concerns across the globe through the use of the Internet. Notable tomention is an article on “Emergence and Influence of the Zapatista Social Netwar” (Ronfeldt &Arquilla, 2001), that described how the 1990s netwar shaped the current political situation inMexico. According to the article, on January 1, 1994 in the city of Chiapas in Mexico, theZapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) publicly debuted as an indigenous insurgent groupdemanding for their indigenous human right and dignity. They fought with the Federal troops inSan Cristobal and Ocosingo and somehow managed to take over these cities. Weeks later, thegovernment dispatched more troops with fighter planes and helicopters, staging a clash thatclaimed the lives of the civilians, the Zapatistas and the government troops. The Zapatistas fledinto the hills and from there waged a flea-like guerilla war. Simultaneously, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was beinginaugurated and from the Zapatistas’ point of view, the trade agreement is a death certificate forthe ethnic peoples of Mexico (Brown, n.a). The fear perceived by the Zapatistas that theagreement would bring in cheap products from the US and Canada and displace indigenous
3Recommendation Memoproducers contributed to the uprising. It is important to note that NAFTA did not actually causethe rebellion but was rather an aggravating factor. From the first day of the insurgency, the technology has been a fundamental mediumthrough which the Zapatista voice was heard across the globe. It is also important to note that thepower of the Internet allowed the information to flow horizontally, dissipating across the globewithout passing through any form of central structure capable of filtering or censuring it. Manypeople through the Internet got to know what was happening in Chiapas. While the Zapatistaswere waging their guerilla war as well as disseminating their human right declarations, somesocial activists and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were quickly mobilizing activistsaround the globe to support the EZLN movement. As a result, there began the rise of the influence of non-governmental organizations asactivists intent on influencing political change and mobilizing activists around the world insupport of the Zapatistas. After the 1994 insurgency, the Mexican government reached anagreement on greater autonomy for the indigenous Chiapas.Objective The objective of this memo is to use my position as a member of the IT strategicimplementation team of New Technologies Software (NTS) and make a recommendation to NTSpresident describing the current political situation in Mexico. The memo will analyze how thispolitical situation developed from 1990s netwar, and describe the role social activists andNGOs have in Mexico, as well as the impact they could have on the NTS mission and goals asthe company considers moving its corporate headquarters to Mexico.Findings
4Recommendation Memo Mexico has evolved into a democratic country after its first peaceful election in 2002.However, it is faced by two threats such as security problem and dependency on the United Statethat threatens its economic growth. The security problem is as a result of the drug war beingwaged constantly very close to its border with the US. Nonetheless, being considered the secondbiggest country and the second largest economy in Latin America shows that the relativelypolitical stability it is currently enjoying makes it very attractive to investors. Prior to its present political situation, Mexico had been plagued with uprisings andinsurgencies with that of the EZLN being the most influential that ushered in a significantpolitical change. The Zapatista Movement netwar represents a hybrid of all the three eras (pre-modern, modern and postmodern) and provides a seemingly plethora of social netwars in theyears ahead (Ronfeldt et al., 2001). Though, the characteristics surrounding these netwars arebound to be different depending on each country. What happened in Chiapas is almost similar tothe events that took place in Burma and Seattle, U.S.A. It is noted that the inauguration ofNAFTA was an aggravating factor during the Zapatistas’ activist movement. Similarly, in 1997 Pepsi responded to a fast growing student and civic movement whichopposed economic links with Burma’s military dictatorial government. They claimed that anycompany that did business with their government supported the government in oppressing thepeople. In the same token, the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest of 1999 in Seattle,U.S.A., resulted from the many differences in the perspective of developing and industrialnations on the current reality of free trade and its effect on them” (Shah, 2001). From allindications, all these three events have one thing in common, which is the use of social netwar toprevail in their activist movement.
5Recommendation Memo The use of new information technologies in these countries aided the grassroots activistsin mobilizing “netizens” and challenging nondemocratic regimes (Ronfeldt et al., 2001).However, the notable characteristic difference in Chiapas cause is that it served as a prototypeand consequently, turned out to be special. Emelio Zapata, to whom EZLN owes its namethough started out with hostility but later on changed the group rhetoric by calling for reformsinstead of overthrow.The role of information in the Zapatista Movement The Zapatistas understood the importance of information dissemination by word ofmouth and brilliantly used it as a tool for seeping information in and out. Though the Zapatistasdid not have electricity that drives the Internet tools, they had the words that travelled quicklycarrying their message around the world. This strategy worked so well in attracting socialactivists and NGOs that swarmed Chiapas with alacrity to help the Zapatistas carry their netwarfurther across the globe. The activists also received support and solidarity from their counterpartin the US and Canada. The NGOs’ position is not strange due to the fact that 1970s saw a greatof number of NGOs springing up around the world. They developed information-ageorganizational and technological networks for connecting and coordination with each otherCleaver, 1998). Therefore, when the Zapatistas called the transnational NGOs answered.The role of social activists and NGOs Non state actors such as the NGOs and independent civil-society played a positive role infacilitating communications by emails and fax messages that quickly mobilized supportersaround the globe to support the Zapatistas. They played service, advocacy (Ronfeldt et al., 2001),and counter revolutionary role by fostering democracy and making decisions that affect the civilsociety public.
6Recommendation Memo Readers may wonder how mobilization was possible at that time when social networkingmedia that offers tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and microblogger were notavailable. The answer is not farfetched. Old media such as newspapers, television, faxes email,and computer conferencing systems equally served the purpose of disseminating informationwell. Grassroots activists from over forty countries and five continents attended intercontinentalmeetings in Chiapas. Without the Internet, this turnout would never have been possible (Cleaver,1998).The result of the conflict Through the Zapatista boasted of network of Internet supporters and good relationshipwith the media, the EZLM initiated an information war that the state actors stood no chance ofwinning. Instead the state actors found themselves in an awkward situation of cleaning up theirpublic image. The NGOs and the global activists outcry became a net power; a different kind ofpower that diffused the military power of the state actors. The net power took the state actors bysurprise and had them searching for ways to salvage their image. Consequently, the Mexicangovernment had to halt combats operations and turn to political dialogue and negotiation. The Mexican state actors invited the Human Right Watch to discuss the human rightssituations in Chiapas. The Human Right Watch report showed concern about the accuracy of thegovernment report on how civilians were killed. As a result, the Human Right Watch called onthe United States government to withhold among others, foreign military sales to Mexico(Refworld, 1995). The Mexican officials went as far as admitting being overwhelmed by the“information-age social netwar”. In a strange twist of event, they finally recognized the EZLNand reached an agreement with them to offer greater autonomy to the indigenous Mayans.
7Recommendation Memo As recorded by Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy(Ronfeldt et al., 2001), “the EZLN did not mount new operations… and with a sense offulfillment “many NGO activists turned their attention to other matters in Mexico”. Apparently,judging by what happened later in Burma, Seattle, and Egypt, the “Zapatista” effect did spreadcontagiously.The impact the social activists could have on the NTS mission and goals The social activists are not interested in business or political agenda. Their role is to usepower of the Cyberspace to facilitate communication among the NGOs about the cause of theZapatista. Since their role is all about communication, any company in the IT business that canassist them realize their goal, is welcome. Therefore, their role could impact positively on thegoals and mission of NTS. The reason is because as the fish needs water, so does the NGOs needcommunication tools, and NTS may be able to sell these tools and IT services to them.Concluding Remarks The current political situation in Mexico after the Chiapas netwar and the role of thesocial activists and NGOs is relatively stable, notwithstanding the persisting drug cartel war andMexico’s economic dependency on the US. Their large population offers a huge market toinvestors. The NAFTA agreement signed between Canada, the USA, and Mexico created theworlds largest free trade zone for goods and services. The Zapatistas may have been nervousabout NAFTA, but will certainly welcome an investment from an IT industry which will providethem the tools needed to fight their cause. In this view, NTS should not be wary of relocating. Investing in a country where there is a social movement network could be daunting.There is the risk of currency devaluation that could greatly impact on the mission and goals ofNTS. Another negative factor is the fear of unknown. No one knows what EZLM’s next plan and
8Recommendation Memothe response by the social movement networks will be. Things may get out of hand leading toloss of lives. As a result, NTS should also be leery of investing in Mexico. The above immediate factor calls for an alternative action which is to watch and monitorthe unfolding events of the social movement. From both business and IT professionalperspective, this idea is not very sound. The reason is because in every business there are someelements of risk and some businesses thrive better in a risky environment. Consequently, forNTS to fear and watch the unfolding events before relocating to Mexico could result into amissed investment opportunity.Recommendations Having analyzed the situation in Chiapas, Mexico and studied the roles of the NGOs andsocial activists as well as discussed the three options available to NTS Company, I recommendthat they relocate. The Mexican government has already embraced the NAFTA free trade zoneagreement and would welcome NTS from the US to help their country develop technologically. I recommend that NTS takes precautionary measures to ensure its success and thewellbeing of its employees. These measures include making all relocating employee read thismemo to understand the EZLM background, the Chiapas netwar and the role the social activistsand NGOs have in Mexico as well as the impact they could have on NTS mission and goals. I recommend that they register each employee with the US embassy in Mexico, providethem with emergency telephone numbers and also advise them to avoid areas plagued by carteldrug wars. NTS should establish a cordial relationship with the NGOs who may need donationfrom time to time to support their work. Apart from monetary donation, NTS should also donateIT equipment and tools. Basically, all these recommendation will keep NTS in a much neededcordial relationship with the NGOs and the social activists.
9Recommendation Memo ReferencesArmy Officer Held “Responsible “ for Chiapas Massacre: Accused Found Dead at Defense Ministry. (1995). Refworld. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher, HRW,,MEX,3ae6a7fd4,0.htmlBrown, P. (n.a). Cultural Resistance and Rebellion in Southern Mexico. Latin American Research Review. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Vol. 33, No. 3, pgs 217-229. Retrieved from http://lasa2.univ.pitt.edu/LARR/prot/search/retrieve/?Vol=33& Num=3&Start=217Cleaver, H. M. (1998). The Zapatista effect: The Internet and the rise of an alternative political fabric. Journal of International Affairs, 51(2), 621. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/eds/detail?vid=2&hid= 23&sid=30b315a4-93e7-48ba-b91e-4405d9ecf6b0%40sessionmgr11&bdata= JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=bth&AN=562159Klepak, H. (2008). Mexico: Current and Future Political Economic and security Trends. Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute. Retrieved from http://docs.google.com /viewer?a=v&q=cache:-iQv-Ss8txsJ:www.cdfai.org/PDF/Mexico%2520Current%2520 and%2520Future%2520Political,%2520Economic%2520and%2520Security%2520Trend s.pdf+current+political+situation+in+Mexico+after+1994&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid= ADGEESgy3Q0mgnhjQ099-gY23iAVh4uJTbNaedbPCommlcVb9xx76sMY- DZabe31CiOB-8ep_HPZxogFP3LDutLLf754Hk0KTby19xy-phP6RTodxLnPq6lgug U9Gt5nluxptpL5JMPe&sig=AHIEtbTv7GZ8V2V6bczwbGq_-LOWJjGbsQ
10Recommendation MemoRonfeldt, D., Arquilla, J. (2001). Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1382/Shah, A. (2001). WTO Protests in Seattle, 1999. Global Issues. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/46/wto-protests-in-seattle-1999