Mexico’s president-elect rebuffed by Zapatista rebels

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to reporters from his party's headquarters in Mexico City, Sunday, July 15, 2018. Lopez Obrador says he plans to earn 40 percent of what his predecessor makes when he takes office in December as part of an austerity push in government. (AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)
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Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s leftist President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been enjoying a honeymoon of sorts even with conservative businessmen, but was rebuffed by the Zapatista rebels. The leftist Zapatistas issued a statement Tuesday denying they have had any contact with Lopez Obrador’s team and saying they don’t want any. The Zapatista leadership taunted Lopez Obrador, noting his aides made an error in saying Pope Francis would participate in their planned forums on bringing peace to violence-wracked Mexico.

“It is none of our business, but those who claim to represent ‘real change’ are making a bad choice, starting off with lies, slander and threats,” the statement said. “They already did it with the pope, and now with the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army).” After winning a landslide victory in the July 1 elections, Lopez Obrador went on an offensive to reconcile with foes. But the latest disagreement started when Alejandro Solalinde, one of the president-elect’s advisers, announced he was setting up initial contact with rebels who have long feuded with Lopez Obrador.

The decision by the Zapatistas to boycott the 2006 presidential elections may have led to his narrow defeat that year. The rebels, who staged a brief armed uprising in 1994 for greater indigenous rights, have largely stayed off the national stage since 2001, but remain strong in several townships they control in the southern state of Chiapas. The Zapatistas note that Lopez Obrador won’t take office until Dec. 1. and hasn’t been formally recognized by the country’s electoral tribunal as the man who will succeed Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.