Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt

Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt

by John Gibler

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Mexico Unconquered is an evocative report on the powers of violence and corruption in Mexico and the rebel underdogs who put their lives on the line to build justice from the ground up. Mexico Unconquered probes the overwhelming divisions in contemporary Mexico, home to the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, and to destitute millions. John Gibler


Mexico Unconquered is an evocative report on the powers of violence and corruption in Mexico and the rebel underdogs who put their lives on the line to build justice from the ground up. Mexico Unconquered probes the overwhelming divisions in contemporary Mexico, home to the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, and to destitute millions. John Gibler weaves narrative journalism with lyrical descriptions, combining the journalist’s trade of walking the streets and the philosopher’s task of drawing out the tremendous implications of the seemingly mundane.

John Gibler has reported for In These Times, Common Dreams, YES! Magazine, ColorLines, and Democracy Now!.

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies
"In his first book John Gibler chronicles recent social and political struggles in Mexico based on the historical premise that the conquest of Mexico has never been completed and, consequently, that the conquest, as well as resistance to it, have been a continuous feature of Mexican society. In each chapter Gibler explores the dynamic between repression and resistance through one or several relevant concepts and case studies. . . Mexico Unconquered is an important contribution to the analysis of contemporary social and political conflict in Mexico. Gibler has to be commended for not inscribing the events in Mexico within a north-western discursive and conceptual framework. Instead, he engages in an extremely challenging project of intercul- tural translation, which sheds light from an unconventional angle on struggles that have received little attention so far."
Publishers Weekly

Journalist Gibler has attempted to write a history of Mexican revolution, past and present, but his book functions better as a chronicle of a young American's sojourn in the Third World-and the myriad injustices he witnessed-than it does as a coherent critique of the current economic system and NAFTA. Still, his observations on Mexican resistance to economic oppression are provocative, e.g., he claims the income disparity in Mexico is related to mass emigration from Mexico to the U.S., and that Mexican economic policy and U.S. immigration policy have worked in concert to sap Mexico of its most skilled workers. Gibler brings vivid accounts of stories ignored by mainstream media (the deterioration of the rule of law in Ciudad Juarez, the Oaxaca teachers' union uprising in 2006). Unfortunately, the book suffers when the author digresses from his compelling case studies to launch inept attacks on Jeffrey Sachs's theories. (Feb.)

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Texas Observer
Part journalistic travelouge, part political manifesto, Mexico Unconquered recounts some of the more bewildering revolts and upheavals that have roiled Southern Mexico from the turn of the 20th century through contemporary times. . . Gibler is at his best-informative, entertaining, provocative and fluid.
Midwest Book Review
Mexico, one of America's closest neighbors, is plagued with corruption. Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt takes a look into the history of Mexico and how the country got to where it is today. A country split by a huge financial divide, Mexico is portrayed as a nation of people who don't need much more provocation to be spurned towards rebellion once more. Enlightening and informative, Mexico Unconquered is a must read for those concerned about America's southern neighbor.
Multicultural Review
The essays read with the immediacy of dispatches from a war zone. . . The author has taken on the role of telling their tales, expressing their voices. He recalls the narratives of indigenous resistance leaders, of survivors of crossfire in drug wars, of violence against women, and of traffickers in migrant workers. Preservation of these narratives is crucial to sustaining the leitmotif of Mexican history: resistance to conquest.
—Edward A. Riedinger
Left Turn
We are fortunate to have in John Gibler an astute and thoughtful journalist. Over the past few years, he has reported on conditions and struggles in southern states (Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas) and elsewhere in the country and its northern neighbor. Mexico Unconquered shows us close-ups in the current chapter in a long-running story on our continent. 'Chronicles' isn't precisely apt. Gibler doesn't just serve as a narrator. His prose offers a window into people's lives, letting us meet the participants in revolts, in their days of triumphant success or traumatic repression, in lives of vision, persistence and hope. We spend time beneath the tarps of Oaxaca teachers' plantón (protest camp) in the central square. We ride to the hospital alongside a critically-wounded protester in Atenco. We stand in the visitor's line of the prison in Ecatepec. We hear first hand about the ordeals of migration to the US, the violence of the drug war, torture, and disappearances--as well as a daring women's takeover of a [television] station.
—Carwill James
New Politics
Gibler's book is informed by the spirit and the politics of the contemporary Zapatista movement in Mexico. . . Armed with the notion of 'internal colonialism,' he takes us from Chiapas, to Oaxaca, to Veracruz and Guerrero to meet farmers, laborers, intellectuals, and revolutionaries who in Mexico today are both suffering the ongoing conquest and resisting it. . . Through vivid descriptions and interviews, he takes up in one chapter the institutionalization of corruption and practices such as torture; in another he examines the concept of poverty as an expression of development, globalization and neo-liberalism; and in yet another section he looks at how such development and neglect have led to the theft of land, loss of jobs and mass migration.
—Dan La Botz
Gavin O'Toole
If you read one book about Latin America this coming year, make sure it is Gibler's. . . . [It] examines imperialism, poverty, inequality, the Oaxaca rebellion, the issue of indigenous autonomy. He profiles guerrillas - imprisoned and at large - and unpicks the North American Free Trade Agreement and privatization. All the while, he gives a voice to ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events and their millennial struggle for dignity and fair treatment.
The Latin American Review of Books
Kirkus Reviews
A dense chronicle of indigenous struggle in Mexico from journalist Gibler. The author begins by noting that the Spanish conquest did not eliminate the original inhabitants, but rather subdued them. Although 90 percent of the indigenous population in Mexico perished from "violence, disease and forced labor," 62 distinct groups survived. These groups now make up 13 percent of the total population and "continue to be the most marginalized, vulnerable, and poor sector." The divisions among social classes in Mexico are pronounced, stemming from many barriers established from the time of Spanish rule, such as the injunction against the owning of property by indigenous groups. Today, the disenfranchisement of the poor remains embedded, as evidenced in the "gulf" Gibler carefully delineates between the wealthiest and most destitute citizens, exacerbated by recent milestones such as Carlos Salinas's disastrous privatization schemes and signing of NAFTA. The author looks at the role of the United States in terms of its continued "economic imperialism," which includes the displacement of people from Mexican industries and agriculture through migration, and collusion in the lucrative system of drug violence and corruption. Gibler then studies various indigenous uprisings that have sought to reclaim autonomy: in Oaxaca, where teachers took the lead in organizing demonstrations of civil disobedience in 2006; in Chiapas, where a ragtag army of indigenous insurgents called the Zapatista Army of National Liberation rebelled in 1994; and in the creation of the principality San Juan Copala in the Triqui region of Oaxaca in response to the pressure to strip the Triquis of their land. Gibler employs a murkymixture of history, personal tales of resistance, academic quotes and ardent persuasion in his rallying cry for a "radical equality of inclusion."Well-informed, but more of a fervent screed than a well-rounded study.

Product Details

City Lights Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.94(d)

What People are saying about this

Michael Hardt
"Part journalism, part history, part call to action, John Gibler's book chronicles not only the continuing colonization of Mexico, but also the continuity of resistance to it. Revealing those forces of resistance, which sometimes take the form of mass explosions, and other times take the form of individual expressions of indignation and defiance, Gibler helps us see Mexico with new eyes-a Mexico that has always been constituted by revolutionary dreams of freedom and equality."--(Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, co-authors of Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire)
Christian Parenti
"An insightful tour of the horror show next door, this book is full of shocking and distressing tales about the struggle and brutality of Mexican politics. It boggles the mind how close Mexico is, yet how overlooked their past and current history is. Gibler, burning with righteous anger, helps correct that."--(Christian Parenti, author of The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucination in Occupied Iraq, The Soft Cage and Lockdown America)
Howard Zinn
"In Mexico Unconquered John Gibler has produced an important new work focusing on Mexico's ongoing class struggles and the historical continuum of resistance, organizing, and revolt against the social injustices and official corruption evident at all levels of Mexican society . . . An exciting first book by an emerging young writer."
Bill Ayers
"Mexico Unconquered maps a complex and tangled territory stretched between two poles-on one side, a world driven by the logic of empire and the reality of possession, conquest, and occupation; on the other, a land of possibility animated by cooperation, mutual recognition, love, dignity, and sustainability . . . This book is essential reading for activists and engaged citizens who want to make a difference here and now."--(Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education, UIC, author of Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist)

Meet the Author

John Gibler is a writer and Global Exchange human rights fellow in Mexico who has been covering social movements there since January 1st, 2006. He is also correspondent for Pacifica Radio's KPFA in Mexico. He has reported on the ground from the Zapatistas Other Campaign, the protests against electoral fraud in Mexico City, and the uprising in Oaxaca.

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