Leading marches in defense of the imprisoned farmers and vowing to encamp in Mexico City until they are released, Delegate Zero broke a five-year self-imposed ban on interviews with the commercial media (coverage of the Other Campaign has been limited to the alternative press.) A three part exclusive interview in La Jornada -- the paper is both favorable to the Zapatista struggle and Lopez Obrador -- revealed the ex-Sub's thinking as the EZLN transitions into the larger world beyond the indigenous mountains and jungle of their autonomous communities in southeastern Chiapas. After the Jornada interviews began running, dozens of national and international reporters lined up for more.
Then on May 8th, Marcos startled Mexico's political class by striding into a studio of Televisa, an enterprise he has scorned and lampooned for the past 12 years and which that very morning in La Jornada he denounced as being Mexico's real government, and sat down for the first time ever with a star network anchor for a far-ranging chat on the state of the nation and the coming elections that effectively re-established the ex-Subcomandante's credibility as a national political figure in this TV-obsessed videocracy.
Among Delegate Zero's more pertinent observations: all three candidates were "mediocrities" who would administrate Mexico for the benefit of the transnationals, but Lopez Obrador had a distinct style of dealing with the crisis down below, and would emerge the winner on July 2nd.
Although observers differ about whether Marcos's "endorsement" was the kiss of death for AMLO's candidacy or just a peck on the cheek, Lopez Obrador's reaction was of the deer-caught-in-the-headlights variety, emphasizing the prolonged animosity between the PRD and the EZLN to disassociate himself from the Zapatista leader.
It was too late. Calderon, one of whose key advisors is right-wing Washington insider Dick Morris (the PANista is Washington's man), immediately lashed out at Marcos as "a PRD militant", clained AMLO was under Marcos's ski-mask, and accused Lopez Obrador and Delegate Zero of being in cahoots to destabilize Mexico. The TV spots were running within 24 hours of Marcos's Televisa interview. In the background, the PRI's Madrazo called for the "mano duro" (hard hand) to control such subversive elements, tagging the farmers of Atenco whose broad field knives are the symbol of their struggle, AMLO's "yellow machetes" (yellow is the PRD's color).
Lopez Obrador's only defense against this latest onslaught was to affirm that the mayor of Texcoco, who had been the first to send police to confront the farmers of Atenco, was a member of the PRD. Party members who are usually quick to denounce human rights violations here have stayed away from the police rampage in Atenco for fear that speaking out will further taint Lopez Obrador.
There are some who question Delegate Zero's assessment that AMLO will be Mexico's next president as disingenuous. After all, calling the election for Calderon after the Other Campaign has done its damndest to convince voters not to cast a ballot for AMLO could only arouse the ire of PRD bases along the route of the Other Campaign.
Even as Calderon uses Marcos to raise the fear flag, Marcos argues that voter fear of instability does not alter electoral results. Nonetheless, in 1994, Ernesto Zedillo parleyed fears triggered by the Zapatista rebellion and the assassination of PRI heir-apparent Luis Donaldo Colosio into big numbers to walk off with the Mexican presidency.