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Zapatistas Jump Into Oaxaca Fray

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Pipe-smoking bandit subcomandante Marcos once again leveraged unrest to promote his ailing Zapatista (EZLN) movement, which has largely fallen out of sight. Speaking in Chihuahua earlier this week -- about as far away from Chiapas as he could get -- Marcos said the EZLN would block roads on Nov. 1 in its territories of influence, namely: parts of Chiapas, in order to show support for APPO, a group of fellow travelers agitating in Oaxaca and outside the national Senate in Mexico City.

Marcos has been touring Mexico on a motorcycle since New Year's when he kicked off his "otra campaña." The tour has barely registered with most Mexicans. At his stop in Guadalajara last March, many in the audience spoke of witnessing a "dead movement" that lacked the spark of several years ago. Much of the EZLN's support is garnered from beyond Mexico -- and in the pages La Jornada -- where Marcos is a sort of folk hero for the international left.

About the only time Marcos seems to appear in the headlines is whenever violence erupts -- or, in one case, refusing to take off his mask when trying to enter a Guanjuato jail. His most notable surfacing was last May after a violence erupted at a flower market in suburban Mexico City. He later said the election winner would be knocked off.

Opponents of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tried to scare the electorate by highlighting Marcos' reappearance as a possible sign of what might happen under a PRD government. Marcos never endorsed Lopez Obrador and branded the PRD a recycling machine for the worst elements of the PRI.

The EZLN movement is seemingly a spent force outside of Chiapas. But try telling that to its sympathizers in other countries, who don't understand that Marcos, for all his supposed sex appeal, unsettles many Mexicans.

This is cross-posted from WPR contributor David Agren's blog, Tales From the Chicken Bus.

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