Nesters and ranchers? Cowboys and Indians?

mike salovesh (T20MXS1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Fri, 24 Jun 1994 23:59:00 CDT

Dwight Read, very tentatively, asks if there may be parallels between
the US West conflicts between cattlemen and farmers and the Tutsi-
Hutu conflicts in Ruanda.

I dunno, but let me suggest another part-parallel: The Zapatista
uprising in Chiapas is, in part, a struggle of subsistence-farming
Indians and cattle-ranching-Ladinos. IN PART. In fact, in my
corner of Chiapas some 30 years ago I saw a sort of reenactment of
the fencing of the open range in Texas as Indians imported barbed
wire to fence Ladino cattle out of their milpas. (And, just like
in the movies, some of the cattle-ranchers imported hired guns to
go out and cut the fences and shoot the fencers. And others tried
to get the army to do that job for them.)

Now open-range grazing is largely a thing of the past. (For one
thing, upbreeding and such makes many of the cattle too valuable to
allow to wander freely.) The land struggles continue, and the
shooting from both sides gives a high background homicide count
against which the Zapatista uprising is only a small bubble.

But I am not suggesting that Rwanda-style or ex-Yugoslavia-style
ethnic cleansing with hundreds of thousands dead is about to happen
in Chiapas. At least I hope not!

It seems to me Dwight is asking the right question. Does anybody
out there feel like producing a General Theory of Rancher-Farmer

mike salovesh <>

P.S.: For folks trying to reach me, I'm leaving in a couple of days
for a month's fieldwork in Guatemala, followed by another month in
Chiapas. I'll be back online September 1st. I hope!