Zapatista rebels say Mexican leftists party, presidential candidate would destroy country
CARMEN PATATE, Mexico – Southern Mexico’s armed Zapatista rebels Sunday continued their verbal assault on the country’s largest leftist political party and its strongest presidential contender in years, saying both were out to “destroy our country.”Concluding a meeting with more than 60 Indian organizations from across Mexico, Zapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos laid into the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, as he has done repeatedly in recent days.”We want to say here to the directors of the PRD and to the party’s leaders, ‘don’t keep lying’ and ‘look for better arguments to debate’ because, if you don’t, not only will we think you’re shameless morons, but we will conclude you’re stupid,” Marcos said to a smattering of laughter under the massive green tarp where two days of discussions with Indian leaders took place.It has been 11 years since the Zapatistas burst from the jungles of southern Chiapas state and briefly seized several communities in the name of Indian rights and socialism, and the group has remained virtually silent for the last four. But the rebels are nonetheless attempting a comeback ahead of the July 2006 presidential elections, promising to take their movement in a new direction, toward politics and an alliance with the left and away from armed conflict.As part of that effort, the group has summoned leaders from across the country to Carmen Patate and rebel-held corners of the Lacandon jungle near the border with Guatemala.Since reappearing in public this month for the first time since 2001, Marcos has spent much of his time attacking the PRD in its charismatic presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.President Vicente Fox is barred by law from seeking a second, six-year term, and Lopez Obrador – whose lavish public spending and handout programs in the capital earned him a reputation as a firebrand populist – is the leading candidate to replace him.But not if Marcos has anything to say about it.On Sunday, he called one of Lopez Obrador’s pet projects – the massive restoration of Mexico City’s historic district – a ploy to line the pockets of Latin America’s riches man, Carlos Slim, a key financial backer of the expensive renovation.The former mayor, who stepped down to begin a national campaign, has said he respectfully disagrees with Marcos, but won’t argue with him.Answering critics who suggest that an attack on Lopez Obrador only helps the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico from 1929 until when Fox was elected in 2000, Marcos countered that a PRD victory next summer would be little different than a return to power for the PRI.”There is a difference between an inconsequential left and a consequential right, the difference is they both do the same things, but one says they don’t,” Marcos said of Lopez Obrador’s party.The rebel spokesman angrily read and responded to a letter addressing Zapatista criticisms, calling its author, Pablo Gomez, head of the PRD voting bloc in the lower House of Congress, a “shameless liar.”He said the PRD has been inadvertently helping its perennial rivals in the PRI and Fox’s center-right National Action Party, or PAN.”Instead of a profound revision of its proposals, its plan for political action, its alliances and its goals for the country, the PRD and Lopez Obrador are speeding the return of Salinas via the PRI or via the PAN,” said Marcos, referring to Carlos Salinas, who was president from 1988 to 1994.Vail, Colorado
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