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  HOME | Mexico

Mexican Guerrilla Leader Reappears in Public After 5 Years

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico – Subcomandante Marcos, the leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), has made his first public appearance in five years in Mexico.

The guerrilla leader participated in a memorial service on Saturday for an Indian who was murdered on May 2.

Subcomandante Marcos went to La Realidad, a community in the jungles of Chiapas state, where thousands of Indians and hundreds of other EZLN supporters gathered to remember Jose Luis Solis Lopez.

Members of the mainstream media were not allowed to cover the event, but the radiozapatista.org Web site reported on the memorial service.

About 3,000 people gathered in the community, located some 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Tuxtla Gutierrez, in southern Mexico to honor the slain Indian.

Marcos appeared at around noon riding a horse and “with a pirate’s eyepatch on the right eye, smoking his iconic pipe, and he met minutes later with the EZLN General Command, who were also riding horses,” radiozapatista.org reported.

“They coordinated a military salute to civil society and the Zapatista support base, later withdrawing and breaking ranks. Marcos says farewell with a genuine salute,” the Web site said.

Subcomandante Marcos had not appeared in public since January 2009, when he attended a festival in San Cristobal de Las Casas.

Media reports said in March that the rebel commander had health problems.

The overwhelmingly Indian Zapatistas launched an armed rebellion on Jan. 1, 1994, the military phase of which lasted only a few days.

Mexican military intelligence suspects Marcos is a non-Indian, middle-aged former philosophy professor.

The government released a photograph in January 1995 and identified the Zapatista chief as Rafael Sebastian Guillen.

Marcos, however, has never admitted that Guillen is his real name.

The pipe-smoking rebel chief almost always wears a ski mask when he appears in public, so his definitive identification has been difficult.

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