Chiapas Paz Mexico - Zapatista Mural | San Francisco, CA

Zapatista Mural from City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, California | Photography by

A new mural has gone up in San Francisco's North Beach Neighborhood, on the Jack Kerouac Alley side of City Lights Bookstore near the corner of Columbus Avenue and Broadway. The mural is a reproduction of one that was painted by a Mayan community in Chiapas, Mexico and was destroyed by the Mexican Army in a military raid on their village in April 1998. Featuring images of revolutionary leaders Emiliano Zapata and Ricardo Flores Magon accompanied by skimasked rebel warriors watching over the daily activities of an indigenous community, the mural was first painted in the jungle village of Taniperla as a celebration of local autonomy. Under the supervision of Mexico City artist Sergio Valdez Rubalcaba, a group of young people from Taniperla and surrounding villages painted the mural on the wall of the municipal headquarters where the newly elected local leaders were to take their positions. The Zapatistas and their supporters had declared Taniperla to be the center of a new autonomous municipality � named after turn-of-the-century Mexican popular leader Ricardo Flores Magon � and the village had become known as one of the centers of support for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).

Zapatista Mural from City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, California | Photography by

On April 11, 1998, Taniperla, a village of some fifteen hunderd Tzeltal Mayan campesinos, was invaded by the Mexican Army. At dawn on that day, an armed force of one thousand federal troops entered the village. The army arrested local leaders, burned houses, cornfields and coffee plantations, and occupied the village. Along with several other Mexican nationals, Sergio Valdez was beaten and arrested. The mural Vida y suenos de la canada Perla (Life and Dreams of the Perla River Valley) was demolished. Twelve international human rights workers, including three Bay Area residents who happened to be in the village at the time of the invasion, were arrested and held by the federal police for 36 hours before being deported and permanently barred from ever returning to Mexico.

Over a year later, the village remains occupied by the Federal Army, and several similar invasions have occurred throughout Chiapas. Sergio Valdez was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of "rebellion" for having designed the mural. Over the past few months, however, after almost a year-and-a-half of protest and pressure from human rights organizations, Sergio and many of the other prisoners from Taniperla have been freed. After a year in Cerro Hueco prison, Sergio is now able to continue his work educating people about the conflict in Chiapas, but many of the other political prisoners remain in dire circumstances.

Zapatista Mural from City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, California | Photography by

Although the original mural was destroyed, photos of it have been preserved and shared. Shortly after the invasion of the village, the international witnesses to the invasion (who were deported and banned from Mexico in violation of the Mexican constitution and international law), began a campaign to reproduce the mural in sites around the world as a gesture of support for the indigenous peoples' struggle for justice with dignity. Thus far, the mural has been painted in Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao, Spain; Florence, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; Oakland, California; and now, San Francisco, California.

In San Francisco, a group of local artists and activists have painted the mural on the wall of City Lights Books at 261 Columbus Avenue, covering the Jack Kerouac Alley side of the building. The completion of the mural coincides with the remodeling and retrofitting of this historic site. In the sprit of the Zapatista slogan "Todo para todos, nada para nostoros" (Everything for everyone, nothing just for us) the work has been done voluntarily and cooperatively.

Chiapas Paz Mexico | Zapatista Mural
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

Copyright 1997-2018 | | | | | | All Rights Reserved
Connect with us on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube
Business Inquiries | terms of service | privacy | Advertise with us!