archivos de los protestos globales
By: IOAN GRILLO - Associated Press
PALENQUE, Mexico - Ski-masked rebel chief Marcos was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters Tuesday in the southern town of Palenque, a jungle region marked by clashes between the rebels and paramilitary groups.
The appearance was the second stop on a six-month tour dubbed "The Other Campaign" because it coincides with the run-up to July presidential elections and aims to build a new, national leftist movement.
Leaving behind the motorcycle on which he started the tour, Marcos arrived in Palenque with a 10-vehicle convoy displaying white flags meant to avoid any possible violence in the town, known for the ancient Mayan ruins of the same name.
"The Mayan temples of Palenque are seen as if they were a dead culture," Marcos told supporters in the town square. But, he said, "people come to see ruins, and what they find is living people who walk, talk, and above all, shout."
He stressed that "change doesn't come from above, it comes from below and to the left."
Some tourists on the streets of Palenque were a bit taken aback by the throng of ski-masked Zapatista supporters.
"It was a bit scary at first, seeing loads of people in ski masks, but they seemed like a nice enough bunch," Steve Bognar, 44, a pharmacist from Melbourne, Australia.
In speeches during the first two days of the campaign, which kicked off Sunday in the village of La Garrucha, rebels made repeated calls for peace while denouncing Mexico's politicians and the capitalist system.
"No one is excluded from 'The Other Campaign.' We listen to everyone," Marcos said Monday at a meeting in San Cristobal de las Casas, the second stop on the tour, which will travel from the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas to the U.S. border.
Marcos also has dropped his military title "subcommander," calling himself "Delegate Zero" because he doesn't want to have a military title. The change reflects the Zapatistas' desire to move toward a political -- instead of a guerrilla -- movement.
The exact nature of that movement was unclear, however. Marcos has said the Zapatistas won't run for elected office or join Mexico's mainstream political process.
Silvia Soriano, a 28-year-old housewife from Palenque, said she thinks the Zapatista's latest action "is just a smokescreen."
"This doesn't solve our problems," she said. "We still have to get up in the morning and pay the bills."
Analysts say the Zapatistas may run across their paramilitary enemies in the jungles around Palenque.
An armed group calling itself Peace and Justice has killed 85 people, mostly Zapatista sympathizers, and forced 3,000 people off their lands in the past 10 years, according to the Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center in San Cristobal.
"These are not the kind of people you can sit down and talk to," said Michael Chamberlain, assistant director of the center, which is sponsored by the local Roman Catholic diocese.
Most members of Peace and Justice are Chol Indians; many Zapatistas are Tzeltal and Tzotzil Indians.
But anthropologist Arturo Lomeli, who has written books on the paramilitaries, says the conflict is about power -- not ethnicity.
"The paramilitaries are used by the powerful to intimidate or destroy any opposition," Lomeli said. "They also are used to keep control of local resources like water sources."
The Zapatista rebellion began on New Year's Day 1994 in San Cristobal de las Casas, when thousands of gun-toting Indians took over the city center and declared war on the Mexican government.
But the rebels quickly retreated back into the jungle and open fighting ended a few days later. They have staged no mass military actions since.
Still, there have been clashes involving Zapatistas or sympathizers with local rivals, some of whom have ties to governments.
The Zapatistas also have clashed with regional factions of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, whose presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has been leading most polls before the July elections.
Marcos made a series of verbal attacks on Lopez Obrador and his party last year, saying they had betrayed the Mexican left. But during the tour, he has so far refrained from insulting him.
"A lot of the press came here to see me attack the PRD. I'll do that later, but first we have work to do," Marcos said Monday.
Some of the supporters drawn to the first open meeting were less guarded.
"The Democratic Revolution Party say they are leftist," said Efrain Solano, an Indian activist from the state of Oaxaca, "but they just want power and their piece of the pie."
méxico | www.agp.org (archives) | www.all4all.org