Friday, January 02, 2009

Mexico rebel leader back in public for 15 year Zapatista anniversary

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AFP) — Mexico's Zapatista rebel leader "Subcomandante" Marcos made his first public appearance in more than a year Friday at an event marking the 15th anniversary of his rebellion.

The masked leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, which rose up in arms in Chiapas, southeast Mexico, on January 1, 1994, attended an anniversary meeting with leftist politicians and activists from some 20 countries.

The Zapatista insurrection left 150 people dead before a ceasefire was declared 12 days later.

The small guerrilla army has now essentially become a political movement that groups several indigenous and peasant organizations as well radical leftist militants.

It governs some 30 "autonomous municipalities" in the region, which has not seen fighting since 1995.

In July 2006, Marcos led a protest march to Mexico City against the alleged fraudulent election of President Felipe Calderon earlier that month.

The anniversary meeting is due to end Sunday.

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