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Subcomandante Marcos

Background Info

In early 1994, there was a short-lived armed rebellion in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The Mexican government, fearing that the rebellion could spread, quickly responded with troops, tanks and helicopters.

Within a couple of weeks, however, the rebels had hidden their weapons and faded back into the lush Mexican jungle…and the real revolution began.

The EZLN: The Zapatista Army of National Liberation

The rebel group calls itself the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), taking their name from Emiliano Zapata, an idealistic general of the Mexican Revolution who was assassinated in 1919. Under the command of a black-masked figure known only as Subcomandante Marcos (sub-commander Marcos) , the rebels knew they could never out-gun the mighty Mexican army, and in any event they did not want to: many members of the EZLN do not approve of violence. Instead, after they had captured international attention, they turned their efforts to more modern battlefields: the internet and the international press.

Action without Violence

They have been fighting a war of words ever since, and have gained several important concessions from the Mexican government without the need for violence. The movement is still strongest in southern Mexico and several towns and villages in the region are effectively under EZLN control.

The mysterious Subcomandante Marcos – also known as Delegado Zero – is one of the driving forces behind the movement. Mexican officials believe his real name is Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente, though Marcos has publicly denied it and the Guillén family refuses to comment. Marcos communicates with the world through press releases, internet messages and occasional public speeches, where he always wears a black mask. He occasionally leads marches and protests. He is also known to support anti-globalization movements around the world, including a public criticism of the government of Spain in 2002.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Mexico: The Ciudad Juarez Murders, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Oaxaca History, Emiliano Zapata, History and Politics of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, Who Killed Luis Donaldo Colosio?, Monumento a la Independencia, The Mexican Revolution and The Aztec Sun Stone.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
06 Apr 2009

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