“México…will explode.”

Man in
the mask returns to change world with new coalition and his own sexy novel

In a rare
interview, Zapatista rebel chief Marcos warns US efforts to secure its southern
border are pushing his poor compatriots over the edge

Jo Tuckman
Mexico City

Saturday May 12, 2007



Man in the mask returns to change world with new coalition
and his own sexy novel

In a rare interview, Zapatista rebel chief Marcos warns US
efforts to secure its southern border are pushing his poor compatriots over the

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City

Saturday May 12,

The Guardian

A bead of sweat is visible
through the eyehole of his famous black balaclava. Latin America’s
most celebrated living rebel must be feeling the heat, but a glass of water
would mean taking off the mask and that is out of the question. He makes do
with a puff on his pipe, and a subject that is close to his heart. "My new book’s
coming out in June," Subcomandante Marcos announces with relish during the
first interview he has given to a British paper in years. "There’s no
politics in the text this time. Just sex. Pure pornography."

There has been a literary component to
Marcos’s revolutionary persona ever since he led the ragtag Zapatista
indigenous army out of the jungle in the southern Mexican state of
Chiapas on New Year’s Day
It began with lyrical communiques on Mayan Indian rights,
passed through a stage of barbed sarcasm and scatological put-downs, and
recently included a crime novel featuring a rebel detective.


Now even his erotic imagination
has been harnessed to the Zapatista cause as a fundraiser. "I’m sure it will sell if we put a lot of
Xs on the cover."

Still, Marcos says that his next writing
project will be a work of political theory analysing the forces he believes are
Mexico towards social
upheaval. From dispossessed indigenous communities powerless to stop dams and
agribusiness destroying their lands, to street vendors evicted from the
capital’s kerbs to make way for the retail magnates, he says the country’s poor
and exploited are close to their limit.

The former orthodox Marxist-Leninist
turned anti-globalisation guru, who is not himself indigenous, predicts that
the subconscious power of the year 2010 – the 200th anniversary of the war of
independence and the 100th of Mexico’s revolution – will ignite a fuse laid by
American efforts to secure the bilateral border, leaving millions unable to
escape to jobs in the north. "Mexico will turn into a pressure cooker," he
says. "And, believe me, it will explode."

Marcos says that Mexico’s
politicians, the media, and even earnest leftwing academics are oblivious to
the radicalisation he sees bubbling just under the surface. He points out that they also had no
idea that the reputedly docile indigenous population in
Chiapas was on the point of armed revolt 13 years ago. Not
that the Zapatista rebellion fitted the traditional mould of macho Latin
American armed struggle, or Marcos ever looked or sounded like rebel leaders
elsewhere. Even the "sub" in his title – designed to imply an
improbable subordination to a council of indigenous commanders – subverted the
concept of military discipline employed in most other guerrilla armies.

"We left the jungle to die,"
Marcos recalls, remembering how poorly armed his fighters were. "It sounds
dramatic I know, but that’s the way it was."

The Zapatistas were beaten back by the Mexican
army within days, but not before triggering a wave of sympathy across the
country and the world that forced the government to call a ceasefire, as well
as agree to peace negotiations that would eventually crumble.

In less than two weeks the
Chiapas Indians became an international cause celebre and their mysterious
mask-wearing, pipe-smoking, and poetry-spouting leader emerged as the closest
approximation yet to the romance of the martyred Che Guevara. They have hardly done
any fighting since then.

Powerful persona

Sitting in a sweltering back room
of a Mexico City internet cafe,
Marcos admits that the message in those early years would sometimes get lost in
the fascination his persona inspired. He even confesses to occasionally letting
celebrity go to his head. "But there was always the acerbic humour there
to say ‘tone it
down, remember you are a myth, you do not really exist’."

It is certainly a durable myth,
which has survived despite the world’s attention shifting to more dramatic
conflicts and the government’s revelation that the man behind the mask is a
former philosophy lecturer called Rafael Sebastián Guillén.

Still, the subcomandante does always seem to
be looking over his shoulder at himself, which is perhaps one explanation for
his periods of near total silence.
The longest came in 2001,
shortly after the so-called Zapatour in which the Marcos bandwagon travelled
the country accompanied by hundreds of international sympathisers and a police

Elections had just ended 71 years of one-party
rule in
Mexico and the Zapatistas had
decided to test the new democracy with the demand for an indigenous bill of
rights. When parliament ignored the pressure, the rebels returned to the jungle
and concentrated on putting indigenous self-government into practice, with or
without constitutional sanction.
Marcos disappeared from view,
emerging four years later with a new concern to build alliances beyond the
indigenous movement.

"This is the last battle of
the Zapatistas," he says of the strategy, which relies on the government
deciding not to reactivate old arrest warrants for fear of sparking more
sympathy for Zapatista. "If we don’t win it we will face complete

The subcomandante’s specific aim in his
current low-key tour of the country is to consolidate the broad and loose
collection of marginal left groups known as The Other Campaign.
hopes this rather chaotic mix of everybody from radical transvestites to
Marxist trade unionists will eventually play a leading role in channelling the
discontent he is sure will soon be raging into an unarmed civilian movement
organised around the principle of respect for difference.

think that what is going to happen here will have no ‘ism’ to describe
it." His voice becomes wistful. "It will be so new, beautiful and
terrible that it will make the world turn to look at this country in a
completely different way."

Ballot box

Such talk could be seen as
contrary, perhaps, at a time when the left has taken power in much of Latin
America through the ballot box, but Marcos is unimpressed by
elections he views as primarily a mechanism for ping-ponging power within the
elite. So while he gives Evo Morales in Bolivia
a nod of approval for his links to a radical indigenous movement, he describes
Hugo Chávez in Venezuela
as "disconcerting", and brands Brazil’s
President Lula and Nicaragua’s
Daniel Ortega as traitors.

politicians on both left and right receive nothing but his scorn. Is it easier
to claim the moral high ground when your face is hidden?

Marcos acknowledges that the mask
helps, although he stresses it is also a burden. It can be itchy and
uncomfortable, and it is so intertwined with his revolutionary persona that to
take it off in public even for a few seconds would be the end of the

"The mask will come off when a
subcomandante Marcos is no longer necessary," he says. "I hope it’s
soon so that I can finally become a fireman like I’ve always wanted. Firemen
get the prettiest girls."

* -* – * -* -* -* – * -* -* -* – * -* -* -*
– * -* –

No, compa. Recuerda que: “BILLELLE mata a CARITA”.
Te puedo decir quienes se llevan las “mejores”. Espero que no les este llegando

En cuanto a lo de MITO. Eres una alegoría, nosotros (todos los que salimos a las calles
para apoyar a los “zapatos” en Enero de 1994 o en Diciembre de 1998) te
hemos construido a base de las
esperanzas de los 60 millones de MISERABLES que viven debajo
del nivel de pobreza
definido por la ONU. El mismo que las OCDE, ITAMs. ITESMs, IBEROs,y otros
centros “educativos” desconocen por completo. Pero eres REAL,
como el piso de arena o lodo de las chozas en Metlatonoc. Porque nos recuerdas que la LUCHA
está inacabada (y permanecerá así), y que una vez más no
como hace 100 sino un
poco más 150 (o tal vez 200 años) nos va el destino de un país de por medio.
Porque a veces La Realidá tiene como cimiento sueños, lo que la hace tan
estable que es capaz de RESISTIR terremotos devastadores.

Huelga decir que en los análisis politicos
no pongo un pero. Sin embargo, ya te lo había avisado compa. Existen coyunturas
históricas y tu acabas de perder una. ¿Deveras ‘tamos tan inmaduros
como para que no puedas
confiar en que llega un momento en que sabemos lo que nos conviene? En eso a
veces te empatas con los
del poder. Aquellos
mismos que nos prometieron el 2 de Julio los resultados de 7000 casillas
distribuidas en puntos estratégicos de México; y que pusieron
como pretexto que la
contienda estaba muy cerrada. ¿Acaso somos enanos mentales
como para no saber leer
y desglosar la información que se nos presenta?

Sinceramente compa, ESPERO que llegues a
juntar a toda la banda en un movimiento desarmado y pacífico porque el horno no
está para bollos (no se aplique la acepción Guerrerense a esta palabra).

¡Ah! Mucha suerte con el libro del mismo “género” literario
de la Xaviera Hollander.

Güeno, en otro orden de ideas. Una disculpa
si los he dejado al garete, pero estaba ocupadísimo, a veces veo el fut, pero
pus tienen que ser muy elegidos para que les dediqué un par de horas. A las CHIVAS
Como regalé la camiseta de
los PUMAS,cero y van DOS, traigo la rayada puesta HOY) las tengo
castigadas todavía, pero
como hoy juegan contra
las güilas a lo mejor watcho (no me refiero a los de verde olivo) el juego, no
es promesa.

Recién entregué mi tesis doctoral, y como
soy más egocéntrico que mi paisa, los quiero apantallar con la portada. Denme
chance, sólo la base de datos me costó más de dos años recopilarla para que
estuviera libre de paja. Todo sea por el país, así ni duele. Sin embargo, va a
revision, y
como ni yo estoy satisfecho
seguro vienen correcciones. Así que todavía no compren el carbón para la
parrilladona loca ni el hielo para la cerbatanas, con la que celebraremos en
Mexicalpan mi nuevo grado, ya que no pudimos celebrar el monitoreo de la
del año próximo pasa’o.

Mmm. ¿Qué más? ¡Ah, sí! Hoy me encierro a
piedra y lodo. No se espanten no va a ser
como en el cuento ese
del Poe. Es para prepararle a un “cuate” el reporte climático de que les
platicaba el otro día. Algo de eso anda dando vueltas en mi choya, espero que
no se haga realidá.

Vaya pues un abraXXXo solidario,


Norwich, U(n) K(amasutra),


… natural porn killer.


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