Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman for the Zapatista rebels in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, clarified that the group’s new political proposal does not support any candidate for the presidency in the 2006 elections, but neither does it encourage abstention.
The masked leader spoke at the opening ceremony of the third of six meetings with Mexican social organizations the Zapatistas are hosting in their jungle territory, seeking to unite a broad left front. The meeting is being held in the community of Dolores Hidalgo, on lands that had been a finca (plantation) before the 1994 uprising, and are now in the hands of pro-Zapatista Tzeltal Maya Indians.
When the six meetings are concluded in mid-September, the Zapatistas will undertake a trip throughout the country in what has been called “The Other Campaign,” seen as an alternative to the contest between the political parties campaigning for the 2006 elections.
Marcos appeared in Dolores Hidalgo on horseback, accompanied by a guard of eight armed insurgents, in order to meet with representatives of 88 organizations, mostly from the Federal District.
The rebel leader, who has directed strong verbal attacks against the leftist Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) in recent weeks, stated at the beginning of the meeting that, while he is not calling for voting for any candidate, neither is he calling for abstention.
“You’re free to vote for whomever you want,” he said, adding that those who join with the Zapatistas in “The Other Campaign” won’t be compromising their electoral principles.
But he did continue his attacks on Mexico’s main three political parties. He criticized the governing National Action Party (PAN) for having maintained the neoliberal model of its predecessor, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which, in turn, he said was counting on the people’s “lack of memory.”
Attending the meeting in the community of Dolores Hidalgo were, among others, representatives of the Communist Party of Mexico, university organizations and the Francisco Villa Popular Front. (El Universal, Aug. 20, via Chiapas95)