Mexico's Zapatistas on Monday marked the 30th anniversary of the now demobilized guerrilla group's pro-Indigenous, anti-capitalist uprising in an impoverished southern region where today drug traffickers are a greater foe than the military.
Thousands of supporters from Mexico and some from abroad spent New Year's Eve in the mountains of Chiapas state at the invitation of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
The movement "is an incredible example of people coming together and fighting for their rights and their autonomy," said Elena Mosher from the United States.
"They're an example for many movements and organizations across the world," added the 27-year-old, who has spent several months in Mexico working with a non-governmental organization and was invited to attend by her colleagues.
Wearing olive-green uniforms and black balaclavas, members of the movement marched in unison to music, striking the wooden sticks that have replaced their firearms.
"We showed 30 years ago: the people must know how to govern themselves," a EZLN spokesman, who goes by the name Subcomandante Moises, said in a speech.
"We say that we cannot humanize capitalism," he added, pleading for a change of system.
Taking its name from 1910 revolution hero Emiliano Zapata, the EZLN rose up the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force on New Year's Day 1994.
Many in Mexico at the time feared free trade with the United States would crush traditional lifestyles and farming.
Led by their mysterious masked leader known as Subcomandante Marcos, the rebels took up arms in poverty-stricken Chiapas to fight for more rights for the Indigenous population.
The insurgency sparked a 12-day conflict with the federal government that left dozens of people dead, mostly Zapatistas.
The guerrillas won over sympathizers well beyond Mexico's borders, notably in Europe.
"I feel the wind blowing from Chiapas and Latin America that will regenerate us," former French first lady and human rights activist Danielle Mitterrand wrote after meeting Marcos in 1996.
The movement used the fledgling Internet to share its press releases in several languages.
A peace pact was signed in 1996 but the EZLN said its demand for constitutional reform that would guarantee its autonomy was never met.
The Zapatistas retreated into mountain communities where they formed their own autonomous health and education systems.
Three decades later, the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas -- the cradle of the rebellion -- is a picturesque tourist destination popular with younger visitors from Mexico, the United States and Europe.
Subcomandante Marcos, the enigmatic rebel identified by authorities as former philosophy professor Rafael Sebastian Guillen, now largely avoids the spotlight.
He was in the audience for the anniversary events but did not speak.
In 2014, Marcos announced that he would no longer be the voice of the movement, naming fellow former insurgent Moises as the "chief and spokesman" of the EZLN in what he described vaguely as "internal changes" and not due to illness.
Marcos's trademark pipe and balaclava have long been appropriated by the tourism industry, emblazoned on souvenirs, but his fame has faded.
"We don't hear as much about the Zapatistas anymore. If they still exist, they must be very far away," Mexican tourist Lorena Cruz, 44, told AFP.
At the beginning of November, the Zapatistas announced the end of their autonomous civil systems and the indefinite closure of their cultural centers.
The EZLN denounced what it called "complete chaos" in Chiapas due to the threat from "disorganized crime."
"There are blockades, assaults, kidnappings, extortions, forced recruitment, shootings," it said.
Mexico's two main crime groups, the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels, are fighting for control of the region, according to experts.
Despite a thriving manufacturing sector and a growing middle-class fueled by massive trade with the United States and Canada, more than a third of Mexicans still live in poverty, according to official figures.
Although Zapatismo has been largely consigned to history, experts say it did leave a legacy.
"Before the uprising, we didn't talk about Indigenous issues," said Mexican writer Juan Villorio, who was close to the movement.
Now "we're talking more and more about Indigenous languages, Indigenous cultures," he said.