The Zapatista community of Oventik is located high in the mountains just beyond San Andres Larrainzar (about 60km from San Cristobal).
Oventik was the second caracol built by the Zapatistas and it is the biggest of the five “caracoles”. Caracole, which means snail, is a space built by the Zapatistas to organise their autonomy.
There are five rebellious autonomous zones in the state of Chiapas, where hundreds of communities are building a different world. The Caracol is organised by the Zapatista ‘Junta’ a form of local government made up of elected representatives from Zapatista communities. It is a centre for Zapatista organisation and a point of contact with the outside world.
To enter the caracol, you will need to show your passport at the entrance, you will be asked for your personal details and looked after by some of the representatives of caracol. They will explain to you (in Spanish though) the history, purposes and aims of Zapatista’s movement and activities of caracol.
For visitors wishing to financially support the efforts of the Zapatistas, there is a shop selling donated goods and another shop/café specialising in Zapatista related merchandise. Everything from CDs of Marcos’ speeches to EZLN mugs and Tshirts.
There is a large meeting space, a hospital, 2 schools and a factory/leather workshop where goods are made including boots for the EZLN.
Despite the presence of nearby army bases, there has been peace in this area for several years with neither the Police nor the Army venturing into the Caracol or surrounding area.
In the Caracol, all buildings are decorated with murals on Zapatistas movement, which were painted by various artists who visited the Caracol.