The Italian Almanac

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subcommander Marcos

Wrong Face

Recently published photographs allegedly showing the face of masked Zapatista rebel leader 'Subcommandante Marcos' are actually of an Italian aid worker who has been in Mexico for the past two years.

When he saw the photos published in the Mexican daily Reforma, Leuccio Rizzo wrote to the paper's editor to clarify that they were of him and ask that the paper correct its report or face legal action. In his letter, the 38-year-old aid worker also expressed his admiration of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) for its efforts on behalf of the indigenous Mayan people of the economically depressed southern Chiapas state and his respect for 'Subcommandante Marcos', whom he described as a "revolutionary".

According to the Italian foreign ministry, after it heard of the case of mistaken identity, the Italian diplomatic mission in Mexico contacted Rizzo to see if he needed assistance. However, the aid worker said he was not at all worried but did ask that he be able to phone his family in Italy to reassure them. Rizzo is a native of the town of Galatina, near the southeastern city of Lecce, and is working in Mexico on behalf of the Bergamo-based Chiapas 'Maribel' Committee, which has posted his letter to the Mexican daily on its website

'Subcommandante Marcos' has been identified by the Mexican government as 53-year-old Rafael Sebastian Guillen Vicente. He is the most recognizable EZLN spokesman with a black balaclava hiding his face through which he is usually smoking a pipe. The rebel leader gained international attention in 1994 when he led a revolt of Mayan farmers in Chiapas to protest against the Mexican government's treatment of indigenous peoples.