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Rebel Sympathizers Conclude Four-Day Meeting in Jungle

April 8, 1996

LA REALIDAD, Mexico (AP) _ Chiapas rebels’ sympathizers from throughout the Americas dispersed Monday after a jungle economic forum, taking home a rebel leader’s plea to fight free-market economics wherever they find them.

Global capitalism is an ``industry of death,″ Zapatista military leader Subcomandante Marcos said at the end of the four-day meeting Sunday evening.

Dubbed the ``Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism,″ the gathering was called by Zapatista rebels in their latest bid to muster civilian support.

The mostly Indian rebels used the forum to charge that an emerging global free-market economic system concentrates wealth in the hands of a few _ while impoverishing others.

Marcos urged more than 400 participants from Mexico, the United States, Canada and other nations to fight free-trade proposals on a local level.

The rebels are harsh critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, the same day the Chiapas uprising started.

Fighting subsided after 10 days of rebellion, in which 145 people died. At the time, Marcos had called the agreement on the world’s largest free-trade zone a ``death knell″ for poor Indians.

Rebels held the forum in La Realidad, a village 84 miles southeast of San Cristobal de las Casas, where talks to end the uprising have been held.

Joanne Calkins, 56, a former teacher from Santa Cruz, Calif., said the meeting’s spirit will spread. ``It’s definitely going to have a ripple effect,″ she said.

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