This report contains the usual condescension of mainstream (English-language) media accounts on the Zapatista movement. For instance, the Zapatista-led protests around the Atenco crisis earlier this year were quite significant, and dominated the news in Mexico before they were overshadowed by the even bigger protests sparked by the electoral dispute. This account indicates the potential for a mending of fences between the Zapatistas and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which seems poised to establish a parallel government. From AP, Sept. 21 via Chiapas95:
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS – The ski-masked leader of Mexico’s Zapatistas suspended his nationwide tour and unexpectedly returned to southernmost Chiapas state, arriving in this mountain city which rebel forces briefly seized 12 years ago.
Subcomandante Marcos left the Zapatistas’ strongholds in Chiapas in January and began making his way across Mexico as part of “the other campaign,” which saw the rebel leader ridicule all major candidates ahead of the July 2 presidential election and pledge to overthrow the winner.
But Marcos’ appearances around the country failed to draw big crowds and conservative Felipe Calderon, former energy secretary to outgoing President Vicente Fox, won a race on which the Zapatista rebel’s criticisms were thought to have little effect. He returned to Chiapas on Wednesday.
His tour was supposed to continue after the election, but Marcos recently temporarily suspended future stops to remain in San Salvador Atenco, a town where radical farmers mutinied in 2002, taking government hostages and successfully halting a plan to build a new Mexico City airport on their land. Located outside the capital, violence again flared between police and machete-wielding demonstrators in San Salvador Atenco in May.
Marcos had said he would end “the other campaign” with a stop in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, but his return to Chiapas could mean those plans have changed.
Why he headed to San Cristobal de las Casas was not clear. Marcos waved to a small group of supporters, but did not speak to reporters upon arriving.
The Zapatistas burst from the jungles and seized San Cristobal de las Casas and other Chiapas cities and towns in the name of socialism and Indian rights on Jan. 1, 1994. Though a cease-fire ended fighting between rebels and government forces after a few days, the Zapatistas have refused
to agree to a lasting peace.
Marcos enjoyed celebrity-like status after leading a triumphant tour of Zapatistas leaders from Chiapas to Mexico City in 2001, but the movement has largely disappeared from the public eye since then, leaving its leader struggling to regain the spotlight.
Marcos has been a longtime critic of the leftist who finished a close second to Calderon on July 2, ex-Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Still, he said Tuesday that “we were wrong. Lopez Obrador won the most votes.”
Milenio elaborated Sept. 20 (also archived at Chiapas95, our translation):
Subcommander Marcos affirmed that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador obtained a “forceful and clear triumph” in the presidential election of July 2, although he accused the former candidate of the For the Good of All coalition of being surrounded by “shameless salinistas” that pretend to be of left. [A reference to functionaries of disgraced ex-president Carlos Salinas—WW4R]
In his first public position on the elections, Marcos said he had always thought the Tabasqueño [Lopez Obrador, whose home state is Tabasco] would win; nevertheless, it is an error to think that electoral fraud does not still exist in Mexico.
“We were not mistaken, Lopez Obrador obtained the greatest number of votes among those who contested the presidency. Even if not with margin he predicted, his victory was clear and resounding. Our mistake was to think that the recourse to electoral fraud is a thing of the past,” he said.
“But Lopez Obrador had and has that which none of his antecedents [in the PRD] had: charisma and ability. If before him [Cuauhtemoc] Cardenas used the government [of Mexico City] as a trampoline for the presidency, so has Lopez Obrador, but with greater skill and fortune…”
He accused Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of now being an employee of President Vicente Fox, and also attacked his son, “the pathetic Lazaro Cardenas Batel, today governor of a Michoacan controlled by the narcotrafico.”