Zapatismo has infected the political body of Mexico's 'perfect dictatorship' since January 1, 1994. This polyspacial movement for a radical democracy based on the Mayan legacies of dialogue ripped into the electronic frabric of The War Machine, not as cyberwar--but as a virtual action for real peace for the real communities of Chiapas. As of September 1997 reports of The Mexican military training and arming paramilitary groups with the intent of moving the 'low-intensity'war to higher level began to circulate among the Zapatista Network. It took the massacres at Acteal to focus the world on something that was already known--the constant tragedy of late-capital.

As manifestations took place around the world in rememberance of Acteal dead on January 1 and 2nd, the Mexican military with the full support of the PRI goverment began to move to the next stage of the war against peace. As the West stumbled about in celebration of a new year--the first report reached out across the net and slapped us awake once more with the vicious and brutal reality of the neoliberal agenda.

Virtual Action

This time Zapatista Networks responded with a new level of electronic civil disobedience beyond the passing of information and emailing presidents. On Sun, 18 Jan 1998 a call for NetStriking for Zapata (from Anonymous Digital Coalition) came in via email with the following instructions:

In solidarity with the Zapatista movement we welcome all the netsurfers with the ideals of justice, freedom, solidarity and liberty within their hearts, to sit-in the day 29/01/1998 from 4:00 p.m. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) to 5:00 p.m. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) in the following five web sites, symbols of Mexican neoliberalism:

  • Bolsa Mexicana de Valores:
  • Grupo Financiero Bital:
  • Grupo Financiero Bancomer:
  • Banco de Mexico:
  • Banamex:
Technical instructions:

Connect with your browser to the upper mentioned web sites and push the bottom "reload" several times for an hour (with in between an interval of few seconds) Or, just keep your browser tuned to this site, where the Java Applet will hit reload for you, and where various features of either a click on the applet, or the "personal message" form, will let you send secret messages to the error logs of the servers in question.

Important Browser Instructions

For Netscape navigator users on PC, Apple Macintsoh and Unix o.s.:
From the Option menu select Preferences and set up:

  • memory cache = 0
  • disk cache = 0
  • verify document = Every Time

From The Option menu select Network Preferences

  • activate the No Proxies option

For Microsoft Internet Explorer users:

  • from the View menu select Options - Advanced -
  • and in the Temporary Internet File Box select Never


This virtual sit-in not only brought the possibilities of direct electronic actions to the forefront of the Zapatista networks, it also initiated a more focused analysis of what methods of electronic civil disobedience might work:

Several questions were brought up on the issues of net traffic, ISPs, and small international pipes:

Reloading the Bank's web page will not crapup the bank's WEB server, but just overload the ISPs pipe.

How about an email storm? Send thousands of email messages to the bank. This has some advantages:

  • Email forwarders ( sendMail process ) will efficiently use net bandwidth and not hose other 'civilians'.
  • Email takes up disk space on the bank's server. Sending tens of thousands of large emails ( with attachments of course ) sucks up tons of disk space as the messages have to be held until someone reads them.
  • Someone has to read the email. If someone here writes a java app that can put together unique subject lines with banking related terminology, someone at the bank will have to wade through all the bogus email to get to real business related mail messages. This is my favorite part, it actually disrupts business. After a short while the bank will shut down their email account, at least temporarily.
  • Note: Each email message should be unique. This will keep the bank from writting a script to look for a particular string in the email and auto deleting it.

Speculations on the technological implications of these actions began to focus on questions of Who is most likely to be damaged by this move? The Mexican target banks or the Internet Service Providers, ISPs, who route data to these banks?:

So what is the goal? If the goal is to disrupt the traffic going to Mexico and make problems for ISP's who route data to these banks, then the pinging and reloading plan will meet its goal. If the goal is to target these banks specifically, then we should consider tactics that impact those Banks' I-net activities directly. Here are 3 examples that impact the banks, more than the Internet.

  • The most efficient and effective way is to find out who provides Internet service to these banks -- An easy task for any techie who knows anything about networks. Then the hard part, contact someone who works at the bank's ISP & convince them to "interrupt" the bank's service for an hour. An easy "fake problem" for the willing network engineer.
  • The 'good netizen' approach would be to contact the bank's provider(s) and convince them stop doing business with the bank. I admit that's a long shot! But both of these 2 tactics only impact the target banks.
  • Flood the banks with e-mail. The ISP's who route the banks email, will eventually tire of their lines being saturated with the bank's traffic. In such cases, ISPs typically block the traffic from using their lines. The email just sits in cyberspace, as undeliverable. (Which could lead to other problems. Email also bounces and will queue locally. So your own ISP will wonder "Why is 'your name here' loading our server down with 1000 email's destined for Mexico?")
  • Take advantage of the bank's security paranoia. Without creating a true threat or committing a crime, the savvy techie could make them think there's a possible security problem. The bank would have to close their own I-net access, just to be safe while they figure out what's going on.

As these dicussions were takening place, on February 4, 1998 a group of Mexican digital activists hacked into a Mexican government home page on the Internet and placed pro-Zapatista slogans on the front pages of the site. Soon afterwards a Ping Action program arrived to hit Mexican Banks and Chase Manhattan Bank on February 9.

At this point in time it is difficult to know how much of a disturbance these acts of electronic civil disobedience specifically make. What we do know is that neoliberal power is extremely concerned by these acts. Since Jan 1, 1994 the analysis of the Zapatista Electronic Movement has been at the top of the list of the Military and Intelligence research agenda.

For now all we can do is continue to forge ahead and always remember that all of this electronic activism is not about creating a new aesthetics, or reinventing the internet, but of supporting a real community in search of a real peace. A community that has been calling for a world the makes all worlds possible.