Mexico Unconquered

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Mexico Unconquered
Chronicles of Power and Revolt

Press Reviews

WIN Magazine

"John Gibler's Mexico Unconquered is most useful in its firsthand reportage from across a swath of social struggles. Gibler speaks with peasants in impoverished villages…where residents are terrorized by security forces acting under the rubric of drug enforcement. . . .He portrays a lawless society in which the poor are left with the choices of submitting to hunger and humiliation, heading north, or fighting back."
—Bill Weinberg

The Latin American Review of Books

"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."
—Gavin O’Toole

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."

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

"History collides with the present in this striking portrait of contemporary political currents in Mexico, captured amidst street protests, within prison walls and from across a nation constructed from a contested history woven through by both colonization and popular revolt. . . A mix of fast-moving reporting, poetic reflection and wide-ranging historical texts, Mexico Unconquered is penned in an accessible and uplifting fashion. A clear historical link is made between the author's close relationships with social movements in both Mexico and in the U.S., making the book a useful tool for those looking to delve deeper into the history and ongoing struggle for revolt and liberation in Mexico. " —Stefan Christoff

The 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." —Liliana Valenzuela

Jackson Hole News & Guide

"The pages are quilted passages involving literature reviews, analyses and fierce reporting from talking to 'los de abajo,' or the underdogs, with observations bringing the pueblos alive. His bottom-up chronicle makes him the Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States) for the next generation."

—Traci Angel

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."


"From Spanish colonization to today's state and corporate repression, Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, by John Gibler, is written from the street barricades, against the Slims of the world, and alongside 'the underdogs and rebels' of an unconquered country. The book offers a gripping account of the ongoing attempts to colonize Mexico, and the hopeful grassroots movements that have resisted this conquest. . . . Beyond its analysis, history and reporting, this book is also call to revolt. Readers around the world could learn much from the popular uprisings in Mexico. Just as the tactics of repressive states and exploitative corporations are similar around the world, the strategies of resistance could be also be connected and shared across international borders. Toward the end of the book, Gibler recalls the words of a friend, '[I]f we are all complicit in the damage, then we all share responsibility in the solutions; that is, we are united, or can be united, in taking a stand, in revolt.'"

—Benjamin Dangl

Upside Down World

"From Spanish colonization to today's state and corporate repression, Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, by John Gibler, is written from the street barricades, against the Slims of the world, and alongside 'the underdogs and rebels' of an unconquered country. The book offers a gripping account of the ongoing attempts to colonize Mexico, and the hopeful grassroots movements that have resisted this conquest."
—Ben Dangl

The Narcosphere

"Gibler weaves Mexican history, current events, theory, and analysis to support his thesis that Mexico was never fully conquered, and that Mexican people have been in a more or less constant state of rebellion against this conquest since the first foreigners washed up on their shores hundreds of years ago. . . . Mexico Unconquered is a testament to Gibler's intrepid reporting over the past two years.  As Mexican author and journalist Gloria Muñoz Ramirez writes in the book's foreword, 'John Gibler is omnipresent.'  From the poorest indigenous community in the country, to the most horrific police operation in recent history, to the uprising in Oaxaca, to armed guerrillas in Guerrero, Gibler's been there.  He's interviewed activists in barricades, migrants on the border, political prisoners in prison, paramilitaries in activist custody, children in elementary schools, and government officials in the seat of power.  Those who have followed his dispatches from all over Mexico will not be disappointed. . . . Mexico Unconquered is painstakingly footnoted and contains a comprehensive bibliography and an index--all crucial factors for an amazing book to be a constant reference in any activist's library. . . . [The book is] a jumping-off point for further exploration and more in-depth investigation and analysis. . . . Hopefully Gibler's stories of Mexico's underdogs, los de abajo, will inspire activists in other parts of the world to conquer our feelings of inevitability about our own situations and finally stand up and defend what’s ours."

—Kristin Bricker

Publishers Weekly

"[Gibler's] 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)."

In These Times

"For anyone who has felt confused, confounded, disappointed, disturbed and yet still enchanted by Mexico, John Gibler's Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt  offers some relief. . . . Gibler's interpretation of a 'Mexico unconquered' testifies to the urgency of current struggles, and celebrates the fierce spirit of Mexican resistance, past and present. . . . With the premise of an unconquered country still fighting the battle against colonization and exploitation, Gibler draws parallels (both spelled out and subtly implied) from centuries of Mexican history to ongoing and recent struggles, such as the 2006 Other Campaign ('La Otra Campaña') of the Zapatistas and Oaxaca's state of virtual war the past few years. Running throughout this analysis is the theme of how class warfare and racism are braided together in exploitation and oppression."

—Kari Lydersen

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 . . . [municipality] San Juan Copala in the Triqui region of Oaxaca in response to the pressure to strip the Triquis of their land."