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Zapata's grandson refuses to meet with presidential candidate

By
ARTHUR ALLEN

MEXICO CITY -- The grandson of Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata refused to meet Monday with the presidential candidate of Mexico's half-century-old ruling party, saying he can 'go to the devil.'

'I just got tired of it, all the brown-nosing and bowing and scraping by my relatives,' said Emiliano Zapata, grandson of the guerrilla leader of the 1910 Mexican revolution.

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'I have a meek character and I don't like that stuff.'

He said some of his relatives had profited from their connection to Mexico's most famous revolutionary hero, but he remained a small, poor farmer.

Zapata, 38, said in an interview with the newspaper Excelsior that he decided not to travel from his village of Villa de Ayala to Cuautla, 12 miles southeast of Mexico City, where Miguel de la Madrid, candidate of the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party, scheduled a campaign stop.

'Since I was a kid, it was 'Emiliano come here, Emiliano go there, Emiliano go to this, Emiliano speak here.' But no more. I'm tired of being a stepladder for politicians,' said Zapata, who for the last 20 years has participated in numerous rallies for the party.

'I told them to go to the devil,' he said.

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The party has managed to get various movie stars and athletes - including L.A. Dodger pitching star Fernando Valenzuela -- to join de la Madrid in his campaign around the country to try to draw voters to rallies.

But Zapata, after participating in at least three presidential campaigns, decided to ignore de la Madrid's tour.

Zapata said officials had broken promises to get him a piece of farm land near his village -- the same complaint that led his fiery grandfather to head a peasant army against the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship in 1910.

In another story published Monday, the weekly newsmagazine Proceso said the ruling party is manipulating children in its presidential campaign.

The article claims the party decided to change its policy of 'trucking in' children along with others to party rallies after a child was killed in the crush of a political rally held in March in San Luis Potosi, 200 miles north of Mexico City.

But it said the party still uses children to get at their apathetic parents, with an abstention rate of 40 percent in previous elections.

De la Madrid, 47, the Harvard-educated candidate of the ruling party, is virtually assured a win in July 4 elections, despite campaigns by six other parties.

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The party has won every important election for the last 53 years, but it has come under increasing public criticism this year since it encouraged more public debate on its policies.

Mexico is confronting a 50 percent inflation rate, increasing unemployment and falling oil prices, the country's main export.

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