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Group To Finance Marcos Book

March 12, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A private U.S. foundation promised Thursday to contribute $15,000 to publish a children’s book written by Mexican guerrilla leader Subcomandante Marcos, making up for a $7,500 grant withdrawn this week by the National Endowment for the Arts.

``We don’t like any kind of political censorship,″ said J. Patrick Lennan, head of a foundation in Santa Fe, N.M., named for his late father, a Chicago executive. ``And this smacks of political censorship.″

The NEA’s chairman, William J. Ivey, canceled the federal award for Cincos Puntos Press of El Paso, Texas, after a reporter noted the Mexican revolutionary was the book’s author.

Ivey said he acted because some of the money might have reached Marcos, who has battled the Mexican government since he led an uprising five years ago in the southern state of Chiapas.

Lennan said the foundation had helped the family publisher before in putting out a book.

He also mentioned the group’s $35,000 support a decade ago of homoerotic photos by Robert Mapplethorpe, after a Mapplethorpe show was canceled by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. The Corcoran had received some of the money for the show from the NEA.

Lennan’s foundation may buy and distribute some of the books. The publisher says its already has sent to a distributor some of the 5,000 copies printed and expect that publicity will create more orders from booksellers.

The book, ``The Story of Colors,″ is a tale about the Mayan gods still revered by many in Chiapas, an area known for its Mayan ruins.

The book was first published in Spanish by a Mexican press without any help from the U.S. federal agency. The U.S. grant would have helped print and distribute an English vesion.

The U.S. edition includes a photo inside the front flap of Marcos in his signature black ski mask, with an ammunition belt across his chest.

A spokesman at the Mexican embassy in Washington, Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, said the embassy agreed with Ivey’s decision to cancel the grant.

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