Thursday, September 22, 2005

Radical Elegante

Who was that masked hombre (as John Roberts might say):

Subcomandante Marcos, the elusive, balaclava-wearing Mexican revolutionary, has emerged from the jungle to appear as a "sex symbol" on the cover of a celebrity magazine.

The rebel commander, who led an armed uprising of Chiapas Indians in 1994, was photographed for Quien (Who) magazine with his face covered and puffing on his trademark pipe, which he smokes through a hole in the black mask.

The article, headlined The Sub's Secret Love, described the 48-year-old as a "sex symbol of the jungle" and claimed he was in a relationship with a journalist.

It also coincided with his Zapatista National Liberation Army's recent announcement of a new Leftist movement that hopes to influence next year's presidential elections.

....The charismatic guerrilla, has never disclosed his true identity but has been named by the government as a former university instructor, Rafael Sebastian Guillen. Marcos denies this.

He has been hiding in the southern jungles of Mexico since the short-lived 1994 revolt during which his band of rebels took over several cities in the name of Indian rights and socialism.

Often termed Mexico's Che Guevara, Marcos captured the imagination and support of many intellectuals and middle class liberals with the uprising.

"El Sup", as he is known, assumed cult-like status, becoming an icon of the struggle against neo-liberal free market economics and a champion of indigenous rights. His mysterious identity, allegedly swarthy good looks and penchant for poetry was said to make women swoon.

Figures such as Oliver Stone, the Hollywood director, and Danielle Mitterrand, the widow of the late French president, would make pilgrimages to meet him in his jungle home. When he first emerged, the theatrical self-publicist would ride bareback through the hills, proclaiming himself a "voice of the voiceless". He then retreated to the jungle from where he ran a quieter campaign, communicating with the outside world via fax and e-mail.

His profile was such that Benetton, the Italian clothing company, once approached him to pose for an advertising campaign but he turned them down.

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