Unconventional Convention

With just weeks to go before the Aug. 21 presidential election, the Mexican government is in for yet another embarrassment. Subcommander Marcos, the masked guerrilla whose New Year's Eve revolt in Chiapas first knocked the government off balance, is staging what he calls a National Democratic Convention deep in the Lacandona jungle starting on Aug. 6. Many of the country's leading political and academic pundits are expected to attend, sleeping bags and all. They'll discuss the social and political reforms they want carried out when the next president takes office in December. Government officials, eager to prove they'll provide an intimidation-free election process, are expected to let the convention proceed.

Some intellectuals have been urging the media-savvy Marcos to strip off the anonymity of his ski mask to head a new leftist political party that would push for the reforms. Tensions were ratcheted up after an opposition candidate for governor in Chiapas was gravely injured by a runaway truck that crashed into his car. The candidate's wife is charging foul play.

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