However there have been tangible, material successes, not just advances in dignity and other abstract concepts.
Zapatista health providers extended coverage to 63 per cent of all expectant mothers, double the average for non-Zapatista communities in the area. Seventy-four per cent of Zapatista homes have access to toilets, as opposed to 54 per cent in non-Zapatista homes.
Zapatista communities also have significantly better statistics for infant mortality than other rural areas in Chiapas.
"The position of women in the communities has increased greatly," Petrich says. "They used to be kept in the margins, basically treated like domestic animals. Now the role they play is crucial. This is not a minor result," she says, adding that the Zapatistas have also made major strides in education.
As a broader political movement, they managed to light the fire of resentment boiling within Mexico. However, Petrich believes the Zapatistas "did not go as far as they expected".
Even seventeen years to the day after the first shots were fired, the legacy of the movement remains unclear. A popular Zapatista slogan, plastered on posters around their communities, demands "everything for everyone, nothing for ourselves".