In the preceding pages we have witnessed the birth, upbringing, and edu-
cation of Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente and his transformation from
clandestine, would-be Marxist revolutionary into Subcommander Marcos,
a high-profile guerrilla spokesman and arguably the most famous left-wing
icon and revolutionary figure since Che Guevara.¹
Throughout this work, rather than directly passing judgment on the
Subcommander, I have emphasized certain aspects of his persona. I hope
to have illustrated that whereas a large part of Marcos’s fame has derived
from his talent for media relations (which many observers have recog-
nized), most of his success should be credited to his great flexibility of
mind (which has largely been overlooked). Both strengths, though present
in other guerrilla leaders, Marcos combined and developed to the highest
level, leading Adolfo Gilly to comment that
in this singular combination of ancient myths, mobilized communities,
clandestine army, golpes de escena, literary resources, and political initia-
tives, the figure of the military chief of the rebellion, Subcomandante
Marcos, is immensely important. . . . The chief merit of Marcos, if it
were necessary to assign one, would thus be that he knew enough, first
to comprehend and assimilate that substance and, then, how to be the
mediator or the guide through which its image was transmitted to urban
True, the Subcommander benefited from factors outside his control. For
example, the sudden and rapid development of the Internet greatly facili-
tated his ability to wage a media war—but it should be noted that other
guerrilla leaders have proved much slower in utilizing this medium.³ And
true, Marcos’s flexibility of mind derived in part at least from the culture
clash he experienced with indigenous chiapanecos and from the general
rethinking of doctrines that followed the demise of Soviet Communism—
but, once again, other guerrillas had previously ignored or crushed any
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