Mexican rebel chief writes novel

The Zapatistas want greater autonomy and indigenous rights

Mexico's Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos has joined forces with the country's top crime writer to pen a novel.

The third instalment of Muertos Incomodos (Awkward Dead) was published in the newspaper La Jornada on Sunday.

Paco Ignacio Taibo II and the masked professor-turned-rebel are writing alternate chapters of the tale, said to be based loosely on Marcos' real story.

The novel is set to be published across the Spanish-speaking world and Italy.

An English version of the book may follow, which has reportedly boosted La Jornada's Sunday sales by 20%.

Zapatista investigator

Mr Taibo received a hand-delivered proposal to co-author a novel with the Zapatista chief.

"I started off thinking, 'This is ridiculous'," he said, quoted by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

But then I said to myself, 'Paco, when have you ever shied away from something crazy'."

"We all know that it will not be an innocent novel."
Paco Ignacio Tabo II

Within days the first instalment was published in La Jornada. The newspaper has run previous pieces by Marcos, whose group prompted a 1994 uprising in the southern state of Chiapas to improve the lot of indigenous Indians.

Reports say Marcos is writing chapters 1, 3 and 5, which will centre on a Chiapas-based Zapatista investigator named Elias Contreras.

Mr Taibo will reportedly write chapters 2, 4 and 6, focusing on the Mexico City escapades of a detective in his previous novels.

''Our pact is based on the idea that we are going to write a novel together,'' Mr Taibo, a Zapatista sympathiser, told the Associated Press.

"We all know that it will not be an innocent novel."

Demands by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) for greater autonomy and indigenous rights have been largely peaceful since the violence of January 1994, when at least 150 people died in clashes.

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