Headlines, Latin America & the Caribbean

MEXICO: Marcos Set the Stage and Directed Oliver Stone

Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY, Mar 27 1996 (IPS) - U.S. film director Oliver Stone’s visit to the Zapatista rebels in southern Mexico was like the shooting of a movie whose real director was “subcomandante Marcos”, and the set a lush jungle watched over by soldiers.

“I have been able to verify that a regime of terror exists. The causes of the Zapatistas are just, and deserve a solution,” said Stone, at the end of a 20-hour visit to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where he met with Marcos, the leader of the guerrilla fighters.

The director of films such as “Platoon”, “J.F.Kennedy” and “Nixon”, Stone and the 18 evangelical ministers and activists from human rights organisations that accompanied him offered their support to the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

“I’ll make a call to the U.S. government to stop providing military advising to the Mexican army against the Zapatistas,” said Stone, after stressing Marcos’ political influence and leadership – and his acting abilities.

“He would be a good actor; it was a very dramatic entrance,” said Stone, after watching the rebel leader, flanked by armed guards, enter the jungle village of La Realidad.

Like in a movie, the EZLN prepared Marcos’ entrance, mounted a set for receiving the press, and established a schedule to present itself in public in natural daylight.

Following what seemed like a script, Marcos gave Stone a pipe and a ski mask – the guerrilla leader’s symbols. Donning the ski mask, Stone sat on a horse, the pipe in his mouth, to be filmed and photographed.

“During Stone’s visit, Marcos once again demonstrated his abilities as a director and communicator,” Vladimiro Rivas, a professor of literature at the Metropolitan Autonomous University, told IPS.

Rivas said the meeting between Stone and Marcos will have an important impact. He added that the guerrilla leader took advantage of the director’s visit to enhance his image.

During a press conference he held with Stone, Marcos accused the government of preparing a military offensive against the EZLN, to be carried out with the assistance of U.S. military advisers.

He said authorities estimate that it will take six hours to defeat the rebels, “or three days at the most, if things don’t go well. We say that if things do go well, it will take them three centuries.”

Army helicopters zoomed overhead while Marcos talked.

According to the guerrilla leader, the peace talks with the government that got underway in April 1995 could end in 1997: “In 1997 we will be signing peace accords or going to war again.”

Wearing his ski mask, smoking his pipe and speaking in fluent English, Marcos said that “the low-level helicopter flights, constant patrols and murders of peasant farmers” demonstrate that the government is not interested in peace.

During the press conference, Stone confirmed his support for the EZLN cause, and said he will visit Mexico “as often as necessary, to back the demands for land, peace and justice.”

Marcos reported that during his meeting with Stone, who is known for his critical stance with respect to U.S. foreign policy, he asked the movie director “to use his moral authority, and call on the Mexican government and society to help indigenous communities.”

Surrounded since February 1995 by thousands of soldiers who, under President Ernesto Zedillo’s orders, occupied the area that was under guerrilla control, the EZLN has been laying low in the jungle.

Stone responded positively to an invitation by Marcos to participate in the creation of an international movement against neoliberalism.

This year, the EZLN called on politicians, artists and intellectuals throughout the world to hold meetings to analyse the international economic and political situation, and to create a movement for change.

“Marcos lays his stakes on communication and performance to achieve his objectives. Stone’s visit was without a doubt part of that,” said Rivas.

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