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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Zapatistas warn of 'social rage'
Subcomandante Marcos
Marcos now prefers to be known as Delegate Zero
Mexico is in a state of rage, Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos has warned in a rare TV interview.

Marcos voiced his support for peasant farmers who clashed with police last week in a riot that killed a teenager.

He said the current climate was like that in 1994, when the Zapatistas led a brief armed indigenous uprising in the southern state of Chiapas.

Marcos, whose influence in Mexico is said to be waning, also criticised all the candidates in July's election.

Sported his trademark ski mask and pipe, Marcos - who now prefers to be known as Delegate Zero - acknowledged he had probably lost supporters for not backing the leftist candidate, Andres Lopez Obrador.

But he described the three candidates, including Mr Lopez Obrador, as mediocre sell-outs.

They were, he said, merely fighting over who would have the right to run a business rather than who would contest the right to fight for the country's destiny.

Mystery

Marcos denied accusations made by one of the candidates that last week's clashes in the town of San Salvador Atenco, near Mexico City, had been instigated by the Zapatistas.

Clashes continued for two days before police regained control

Dozens of police and protesters were injured in the riots, which were sparked by a round-up of unlicensed street vendors and went on for two days.

Human rights groups have accused the police of using excessive force to end the unrest. The police point to the beating of one of their officers and the brief kidnapping of others.

Marcos said he would stay in Mexico City until those arrested during the clashes were released.

However, BBC Latin America analyst Emilio San Pedro says that, political observations aside, the interviewer seemed to be more interested in Marcos the person, of whom so little is known

And that, our analyst says, is the problem for the man who once claimed to offer a credible response to Mexico's social and political ills: he is struggling to focus attention on Marcos the revolutionary and away from a fascination with his mystery, which seems to have turned him more into a celebrity than a genuine political figure.




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