Mexico shocked by new guerrilla uprising

The Mexican stock market and the peso is braced for setbacks today after the stunning weekend emergence of a self-styled new guerrilla army near the glitzy Pacific resorts of the southern state of Guerrero.

Calling themselves the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP), several dozen uniformed, well-armed, masked men and women appeared at a public rally in the lush hills above Acapulco, fired volleys in the air and called for the overthrow of the government.

Later on Friday night, about 20 armed men in similar garb clashed with police at a roadblock not far away, wounding three policemen with fire from AK-47 assault rifles before melting into thick foliage.

The group's emergence shocked Mexico, where masked Indian peasants calling themselves Zapatistas and led by a pipe-smoking intellectual in a black balaclava - the now-legendary Subcomandante Marcos - rose against the government in the south-eastern state of Chiapas in January 1994.

The ERP in Guerrero said it had no connection with the Zapatistas. But its proclaimed aims sounded similar and Mexican commentators said the group, while posing no direct military threat to the Mexican army, could be a serious destabilising force for a government whose popularity is sliding.

The Zapatistas have not fought with the Mexican army since the rising but have remained a thorn in its flesh and have negotiated serious political concessions.

Some analysts felt it was no coincidence that the guerrillas in Guerrero emerged minutes after a speech by the leader of Mexico's left-wing parties, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Mr Cardenas later denounced them. But though he criticises violence, the son of revered former President Lazaro Cardenas considers himself a kind of "spiritual leader" of Mexico's left-wing factions and has visited Subcomandante Marcos's jungle hideout in Chiapas.

Other commentators noted that the new guerrillas were suspiciously well- armed and equipped for a peasant movement, far more so than the ragtag Zapatistas in Chiapas, and suggested they may have been concocted by one or other political faction - even, perhaps, one within the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) - as a lever of power.

Friday's incident occurred at a memorial service for 17 peasants massacred by Guerrero state troopers near the village of Aguas Blancas a year ago. The peasants, riding two cattle trucks, had been on their way to a left- wing rally.

The Guerrero state governor Ruben Figueroa resigned after being found responsible for the ambush and for putting pistols in the hands of the victims in an attempt at a cover-up.

On Friday, the 50 men and 10 women in crisp olive uniforms and carrying AK-47s or AR-15 rifles emerged from the hills in military formation, laid a wreath to the 17 victims and fired 17 shots in the air. They were wearing red-and-black ERP shoulder insignias and covered their faces with black bandanas tucked beneath black baseball caps.

Reading a manifesto in both Spanish and the local Indian language of Nahuatl, their leader, "Commander Ignacio", said President Ernesto Zedillo's government was "illegitimate, anti-popular, anti-democratic and sustained fundamentally by the arms of the military and police". Mr Zedillo's PRI has ruled for nearly seven decades, traditionally using fraud to keep growing opposition at bay.

"Moved by the unjust conditions of our life and work, we want a democratic and revolutionary transformation of our homeland," the guerrillas said before disappearing into thick hillside forest after 20 minutes. They were later sought by jeep loads of heavily-armed soldiers in torrential rain driven.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there