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Zapatista "Other Campaign" starts series of town-hall like meetings in San Cristobal . . .

The Zapatistas began today the first of a series of town-hall like meetings that will comprise the bulk of a six-month nationwide caravan dubbed as the Other Campaign. The campaign will touch every state in Mexico and aspires to form a wide-ranging non-electoral and anti-capitalist alliance that can be a powerful enough of a force to implement a new constitution for Mexico.
The Other Campaign will stay in Chiapas for the next six days, making stops at Palenque, the western coast of Chiapas and Comítan, before moving on to the Yucatan peninsula. Marcos stated that, after the elections in July and come this September, we will come out again to each place from this campaign and we will not stay only a couple of days, but instead, well come for months at a time.

Purposefully designed as a counter-balance to the Mexican Presidential election campaign this year, President Fox and center-left candidate Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador have already been impacted by the campaign. President Fox, who is prohibited from seeking re-election by the Mexican constitution which prescribes fixed terms for Presidents, was stumping for his party and even dressed himself in non-authentic indigenous garb. Lopez Obrador, who is currently the front-runner in the campaign and the current mayor of Mexico City, is campaigning in Chiapas.

The Zapatistas have long maintained that Lopez Obrador and his party, the PRD, which in the Senate largely voted in favor of the watered down bill that the Zapatistas opposed, are full of rhetoric without any real action to help the tens of millions of Mexico poor and impoverished people. In an incident in April 2004, armed supporters of the PRD hailing from the municipality of Zinacantan, shot at Zapatistas who were in the midst of a commemorative march of the death of indigenous leader Emiliano Zapata. Twelve Zapatista civilians were injured and five-hundred more were displaced as a result.

Internationally, the Zapatistas have had a tremendous influence on activists from the northern hemisphere and the subsequent global justice movement, which has continued to oppose the battered World Trade Organization dating back to mass protests in Seattle in 1999. Nationally in Mexico, however, the influence by the Zapatistas has not been as great and has been limited to its supporters and other indigenous communities. The latest campaign is an effort to make a formal alliance of their supporters and to expand their base of support so as to be able to achieve their goals.

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