LAST CALL: PR's version of a Mexican standoff

A touch Lollapalooza and a touch The Thin Red Line, Sub-comandante Marcos, who's been called the 'PR specialist' of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, is taking his show on the road. The masked guerrilla fighter and 23 other Zapatista rebels will leave their Mexican jungle stronghold for the Zapatour, a 16-day caravan trail.

The purpose is to negotiate an indigenous right bill with the Mexican congress. However, along the way, the guerillas have been mobbed by groupies.

Marcos t-shirts and key chains sell briskly in handicraft markets and Marcos stand-ins hawk washing machines and, yes, PR firms in print and TV ads.

But even this PR honcho may have met his match in Mexican president Vicente Fox. TV stations are co-sponsoring his 'concert for peace' right in the middle of Marcos' tour and Zapatistas claim Fox is using the concert to steal his thunder.

So as the combatants lay down their swords and take up their press releases, PRWeek cheers both the masked man and the former Coca-Cola executive.

But do we have to go to Mexico to get a genuine Sub-comandante Marcos ashtray?

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