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MEXICO: The Zapatistas reach the heart of Mexico City

Veteran journalist Elias Castillo, who came from Mexico and for years worked for Knight-Ridder newspapers˝, will speak at the WAIS conference. In "Rebels Rumble into Mexico City, Ready to Talk Peace" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/11/01), he described the arrival of the Zapatistas in sympathetic terms: "The Zapatista demands make economic sense". Marcos played on the legend of Zapata, whose name is among the revolutionary heroes on the Monument to the Mexican Revolution. TV news showed old films of Zapata entering Mexico City in 1914. He was assassinated in 1919. Was Marcos prepared for a martyr's death? Although he had received death threats, Fox would not resort to such an extreme measure. That Marcos and his men were unarmed meant that his aims were peaceful. His reception in the capital was mixed. He arrived a little early, a fact used to explain why the crowd while large. was not as big as he hoped. A poll showed that Mexicans thought Fox was making as greater effort that Marcos to reach a peaceful solution. Despite the welcome extended by Fox and the "regent" (governor) of Mexico City, neither showed up personally to greet him, thus making his self-appointed status evident. A Zapatista delegation, which had met with the leftist parties and the PRI, but not Fox' PAN, met with the commission for peace in Chiapas. If there was no violence, the crowds supporting him might just melt away.

Many Mexican-Americans went to Mexico to greet Marcos. Is there were violence, the large Mexican-American population might be divided, creating for the US a domestic problem like that with ethnic groups in World War II.

Ronald Hilton - 3/12/01