Subcomandante Elisa

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Subcomandante Elisa (born María Gloria Benavides Guevara) was a Zapatista activist who, before her arrest and the revelation of her identity, was a subcomandante in Mexico's Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Her arrest has been considered illegal, and her detention and indictment, controversial.[1] In February 1996, the Human Rights Watch published that the police had arrested María Gloria Benavides, at approximately 4:15 pm on February 8, 1995 after they raided her home in Mexico City.[2] She was acquitted of all charges on November 1.[3]

She remains active within the Zapatista community and currently resides in Mexico City. She is married to Javier Elorriaga Berdegue.

Biography and activities[edit]

Benavides was born in the northern city of Monterrey, Nuevo León, probably sometime in January 1955. She joined the movement in her teens. She was first arrested in 1974, in a raid on a house. She was found alive, but next to her was her first husband's body. After her release she rejoined the movement only to lose her second husband and baby daughter in another military raid.

Early in the 1980s she was working as a translator with Catholic peasants in the small villages of Chiapas. She met Elorriaga when he joined the movement in the mid 1980s. They were later married. Benavides took charge of training the native Mayans. Sometime in the early 1990s she moved to Mexico City, and worked from the university spreading political information on behalf of the EZLN. Sometime in 1993 she gave birth to her son. In February 1994 she was arrested in connection with the Zapatista uprising, but later cleared of charges.


  • Breene, Robert (2003). Latin American Political Yearbook 2003. Latin American News Syndicate.
  • Hayden, Tom (2002). The Zapatista Reader. New York: Avalon.
  • Weinberg, Bill (2000). Homage to Chiapas. London: Verso.


  1. ^ Viento de Libertad - Los saldos de la represión por motivos políticos en México: "Benavides, María Gloria (Elisa)". February 8, 1996 [1] Accessed April 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Human Rights Watch: "Torture and Other Abuses During the 1995 Crackdown on Alleged Zapatistas." Vol 8. No. 3 (B) Mexico, February 1996 [2] Accessed April 1, 2016.
  3. ^ idem