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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 01:28 GMT
Zapatistas enter 'hostile' territory
Subcomandante Marcos
Subcomandante Marcos (right) is fronting the convoy
Zapatista rebels from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas have arrived in the state of Queretaro on their nationwide tour to press for greater indigenous rights, despite strong opposition from the local governor.

Ignacio Loyola agreed to allow guerrillas from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) to pass through the state, but he has described them as traitors, who in his words, deserve the death penalty.

Mexican state of Oaxaca
Zapatista rebels received a warm welcome in Oaxaca
Hundreds of supporters gathered to welcome the rebels, who are travelling the length of the country to highlight their demands.

The entourage was held up for a while after an accident involving several buses in the convoy.

Six people, including two policemen, were injured.

The Zapatistas are scheduled to arrive in the capital in two weeks for a meeting with members of congress.

President Vicente Fox has offered to meet them, but no date has been set.

Bodyguards

Mr Loyola, a member of Mr Fox's party, said in a recent interview for Reforma newspaper: "I don't really believe that all of the governors are pleased that this march is passing through their state."

But local media reported that he had provided bodyguards for the rebels in the hope that their visit would pass without incident.

The Zapatistas received a warm welcome in Oaxaca on Tuesday, where more than 10,000 people brought the city to a standstill.

Mexico is witnessing what some people say is its largest ever demonstration of civil solidarity aimed at gaining greater rights for the country's indigenous people.

'Champions of the poor'

The two-week trip - called the "Zapatour" by local newspapers - is the first time the rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos has emerged publicly from the southern state of Chiapas since the EZLN launched its revolt for indigenous rights on 1994.

The EZLN, for which Marcos is the main spokesman, says it now has at least 25,000 supporters en route to Mexico City.

The peace convoy is expected to pass through 12 states on the way to Mexico City.

The EZLN claim to represent the poorest and most marginalised of Mexico's 100 million people - 10% of whom are classified as indigenous.

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See also:

26 Feb 01 | Media reports
Press split on Zapatista march
25 Feb 01 | Americas
Zapatistas gamble on Mexico march
23 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico shuts Chiapas army base
03 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico rebels to talk peace
03 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico's peasant revolt
01 Feb 01 | Americas
Zapatista leader stars as comedian
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