People Profile: Spokesman Subcomandante Marcos

Guillén, a middle class academic, who graduated from the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) went on to earn a masters’ degree in philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where he also worked briefly as a professor before leaving Mexico City and embracing the indigenous cause.
The seductive persona of the jungle-dwelling revolutionary clad in combats and battered brown cap lends itself to the iconic, romantic idolatry often favoured by Latin America. His abilities as both speechmaker and raconteur are legendary. This verbosity has resulted in stacks of both children’s books and novels.
In a recent interview with British newspaper the Guardian, Marcos confessed to occasionally letting the fame go to his head. But those who know him say his intelligence and strong sense of humor apparently keep his ego in check.
Some say his mask is a strategy for anonymity even though it has achieved something of the opposite. “Todos Somos Marcos” – the Zapatista slogan – signals the sense of solidarity generated within the movement: behind their masks the Zapatistas are no one and everyone.
But the powerful personal image may exaggerate Marcos’ relevance, which is a matter of opinion and debate. His importance is rumoured to be waning.

Inside Mexico November IssueThis profile appeared in the November 2007 issue of InsideMexico, available here. The photograph is the journalist’s own.
Click here for’s coverage of Sub Commandante Marcos.