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The BBC's Andrew Clark Reports
"The Zapatista rebels were backing down from their commitment"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 09:47 GMT
Zapatistas head back to jungle
Zapatista rebels, Marcos is second from right
The Zapatistas are frustrated with the government
The leader of Mexico's Zapatista rebels has said he will return to his jungle stronghold in the southern state of Chiapas after his attempt to address Congress was blocked.

Subcomandante Marcos blamed the government and legislators for ignoring what he said was a massive show of public support for his movement's demands on indigenous rights.

The caveman politicians think that they can continue to operate with the racist, arrogant and authoritarian positions of the colonial era

Subcomandante Marcos
He said he would find new ways to continue the struggle which started with the 1994 uprising in Chiapas.

Subcomandante Marcos and other rebel commanders arrived in Mexico City over a week ago, after a two-week national tour to highlight their demands.

President Vicente Fox, who has staked his reputation on reaching a peace agreement with the rebels, urged the Zapatistas to stay.


But the rebel leader accused the president of making empty gestures in calling for talks without meeting the rebels' conditions for dialogue.

President Vicente Fox
President Fox has urged Marcos to stay
The Zapatistas have been demanding that an Indian rights bill, based on a 1996 agreement with the government of the time, be passed. He also says he must be allowed to address Congress in full.

Legislators from several parties say the bill needs some modification, and say Marcos should only be invited to meet a 20-member congressional committee.

Subcomandante Marcos had earlier threatened to remain in the capital until a bill of Indian rights was passed.

However, announcing his departure, he said he was frustrated by "caveman politicians" who had refused to let him address Congress.

Struggle renewed

"Congress has been taken hostage by those who prefer to close their eyes to the national and international mobilisation in favour of the Zapatista cause," he said.

Subcomandante Marcos
Marcos closes the door on the Zapatista tour
"The intolerance of the political class is clear."

Before leaving the capital next Friday, the Zapatistas plan to hold a series of mass rallies to protest at what they call the politicians' intransigence and to thank the people of Mexico City for their support.

More than 100,000 people attended an unprecedented Zapatista rally in the city's central square on 11 March.

The rebel leader said the show of support for the Zapatista cause had permanently changed Mexico's political and social landscape.

"This movement by common people has just begun and no one can stop it," he said.

Marcos did not elaborate on the form the Zapatista struggle would take on their return to the jungle.

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See also:

16 Mar 01 | Americas
Marcos vows to fight on
15 Mar 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
In the footsteps of Zapata
11 Mar 01 | Americas
Rebels ride into Mexico City
10 Mar 01 | Media reports
Press alarm at Zapatista arrival
09 Mar 01 | Americas
Fox's flying start in Mexico
01 Dec 00 | Americas
Profile: Vicente Fox
03 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico's peasant revolt
03 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico rebels to talk peace
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