<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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La Hormiga Turns Out in Force

The Sprawling Indigenous Slum North of Chiapas’ “Royal City” Welcomes Marcos

By Julie Webb-Pullman
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

January 5, 2006

Photos: Julie Webb-Pullman
SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS: The La Hormiga community gathered on Jan. 4 to welcome Subcomandante Marcos (“Delegate Zero”) beneath blue skies and sunshine, the festive mood reflected in the bright colors of the women’s traditional clothing and the fresh fruits on sale.

In contrast to the frenzied crowds of New Year’s Day, this afternoon’s event was more like a friendly visit. It seemed the whole neighborhood was coming to the welcome, and despite the sky clouding over and rain threatening, the crowd continued to grow.

The local musicians had to cut short their performance when Delegate Zero and his compañeros arrived, without any of the fanfare that accompanied their previous appearances, and correspondingly few of the media. The Mexican national anthem was sung, as well as the Zapatista “anthem,” and throughout Delegate Zero and his companions held their salutes.

As the speakers took the microphone the rain began falling in earnest, and as their presentations describing local projects and the community’s productive relationship with the Zapatistas progressed, the downpour increased. Umbrellas went up, jackets covered heads, and tarpaulins appeared as if from nowhere to shelter those nearest the stage, including some in the security cordon. Although many had no protection, the majority of the crowd still remained, huddling together, sharing whatever small shelter they could find.

Delegate Zero spoke last, thanking the community for their ongoing support, and noting that people from La Hormiga — the northern, mainly indigenous section of the city of San Crisóbal de las Casas — had helped him from the very earliest days. He ended by inviting all present to come to the town park rally later in the afternoon, and like the approachable and personable friend he clearly is to this community, he went to the front of the stage and shook hands with many of those clamoring for his attention. The huge grins on the faces of the children as they came away from the stage having touched the hand of their hero were as bright as the sun now breaking through.

The crowd dispersed, many heading into town for the afternoon rally at Zócalo, where the rainstorm had also left its mark.

Undeterred, people were rapidly gathering and showing what is clearly one of the strengths of the Zapatistas — their appeal to all sectors and age groups of local society. Children were again out in force, this time with a piece of group artwork that they were creating for Delegate Zero – it was their turn to put a smile on his face.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America