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Zapatistas May Have Surprise for Ruthless Mexican Oligarchy

Subcomandante Marcos, the mouthpiece for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) who has not been seen in public for the past 19 months, has emerged as a possible suspect in the kidnapping of powerful right-wing politico Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, who was taken by unknowns at the gate of his ranch in the rural Queretero county of Pedro Escobedo this May 14 and remains in captivity.

Up until quite recently, the snatching of "El Jefe Diego", as he is known by Mexico's political class, has been ascribed to mercantile motives - sources close to the negotiations with the kidnappers indicate that the original $50 million USD ransom demand has been reduced to $30 million and the family of Fernandez de Cevallos is said to be selling off choice properties and a fleet of nearly 200 vehicles to raise the asking price.  If the information is accurate, the ransom would be a record for Latin America.

Diego Fernandez de Cevallos is a former presidential candidate of the right-wing PAN party and a dark horse candidate to succeed current PANista President Felipe Calderon.  Indeed one theory popular with Mexico City taxi cab drivers is that El Jefe Diego kidnapped himself to enhance his candidacy in 2012.

As the rightists' standard-bearer back in 1994, Fernandez de Cevallos racked up nearly 10,000,000 votes but finished second, well behind the PRI's Ernesto Zedillo. The PRI which had ruled Mexico for 71 years ceded the presidency in 2000 to the PAN's Vicente Fox, Calderon's predecessor.

During the reign of reviled ex-president Carlos Salinas (1988-94), El Jefe Diego served as head of the nation's senate and cut frequent deals with  Salinas, signing off on the burning of ballots cast in the fraud-marred 1988 election that most Mexicans believe was won by leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas.  As quid pro quo, the PAN was gifted with its first ever governorship (Baja California) and Fernandez de Cevallos got a vacation home in the ritzy Punto Diamante neighborhood of Acapulco that the family is now trying to unload to meet the ransom demand.

A fierce litigator who inevitably defended the interests of the oligarchy, El Jefe Diego has been frequently accused of influence peddling, the suspected source of his immense fortune.  The abrasive Fernandez de Cevallos with his trademark bristly beard and Havana cigar clenched tightly in his jaws has nurtured many enemies both as a litigator and a lawmaker.  Among them is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the left PRD's presidential candidate in 2006 who is thought to have edged Calderon only to have the victory stolen from him in the vote count. He's  the announced left candidate for high office once again in 2012.  


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