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Zapatista Rebels Stage 3 Day Party  in Chiapas - 2003-08-09


Mexico's Zapatista rebels are staging a three-day public party in the southern Chiapas state to revive the cause of indigenous rights.

Truckloads of masked Zapatistas converged on the highland city of Oventic Friday for the three-day event, which ends Sunday. Many of them were wearing traditional clothing of local Indian cultures.

News reports say the Zapatistas intend to launch so-called "good government committees," to handle relations with the outside world.

The committees are also supposed to oversee local Zapatista village governments.

In 1994, Zapatista rebels from the Chiapas region staged a brief revolt to fight for the rights of indigenous people. That led to the passage of an Indian rights bill in 2001.

Indigenous groups denounced the final version of the bill because they felt it did not grant them the autonomy they desired.

Indigenous people make up about one-tenth of Mexico's population. Most live in the poorest regions of the country

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