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MEXICO: Marcos - contra and pro

Being a paragon of reasonableness and even-handed justice, as well as many other virtues, I was dismayed, even disgusted by the performance of Marcos and his followers in Mexico City. Crowds of young people swarmed into Mexico for a night concert given by his followers in Mexico City's main square. They went on a rampage, wrecking cars and forcing the police to arrest a number. Stores around the square were closed. Next morning the square was a shambles. The car in which the mother of Attorney General, General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, was traveling was attacked, but it possibly had nothing to do with the Marcos crisis.

The Indians, some one thousands of them, were housed in the Olympic Village, constructed originally for the Olympics. Doctors examined them, and found that many, especially the children, were suffering from the results of their long trek. The European and American followers, of whom strangely a large number were Italian, camped out on the campus of the National University (UNAM). Who were these youngsters, who had the time and the money to travel to Mexico for what they regarded as virtuous fun?

Marcos gave a defiant speech, sitting alone on the dais with a translator, not for the foreign visitors, but for the deaf who use sign language, or was it a way of translating into nahuatl? Marcos spoke scornfully of the government, rejecting the repeated invitation of Fox to go the presidential residence for a conversation until the pro-Indian laws he demanded were passed, as though that could be done in short order. He demanded to be allowed to address the Mexican Congress, where there was stiff opposition except among the leftist PRD. Some said it would demean Congress to allow Marcos to address congress unless he took off his mask. Significantly, a poll showed that two thirds of Mexicans thought he should be allowed to address Congress.

My disgust was not shared by most of the Mexicans interviewed on TV. It was not clear if they really approved of Marcos, were frightened to criticize him, were playing a political game, or were sincerely convinced that the Indians were victims of an injustice of which Mexicans should be ashamed. Who is Professor Homero Azidjis, president of PEN-Club International (or just the Mexican branch?), who was interviewed by Univisión? He supported Marcos uncritically.

The Marcos controversy had a curious echo in Spain , which, shocked by the anti-Spanish outbursts in Mexico, a retort to the sesquicentennial celebrations of the discovery of America, established the Bartolomé de las Casas Award. This year in a formal ceremony it was presented by Prince Felipe to historian Miguel León-Portilla, with speeches about the study of Aztec culture and the nahuatl language. Not a word about the horrors of the Aztec regime.

Ronald Hilton - 3/15/01