The 1994 New Year's celebration in Mexico started with a bang. A mere hour into the year, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN or Zapatista National Liberation Army) assaulted and captured four cities in the Los Altos region of Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. The Ejército Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional shocked the Mexican people and most of the world. Although Mexican political and military leaders denied that they were caught off guard, they were, in fact, totally surprised by the magnitude of the attack.
As events unfolded, the reasons behind the seizure of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Las Margaritas, Altamirano, and Ocosingo became increasingly apparent. The Zapatistas called for a nationwide movement for “jobs, land, housing, food, health, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace.”