At 11:11 a.m. on Dec. 21, the crowds that had flocked from around the world to southern Mexico to mark the end of the Maya calendar's creation cycle breathed a sigh of relief when the apocalypse never came. But many doomsday tourists witnessed a different sort of news event when tens of thousands of masked Zapatista rebels, all of them descendants of the ancient Maya, marched in silence through towns in Chiapas state in their most high-profile mobilization in five years. The Zapatistas and their pipe-smoking poet leader, a non-Maya Mexican known as Subcomandante Marcos, have always been skilled at generating political theater -- and the Dec. 21 Maya mania was a golden media opportunity. "Did you hear it?" a Marcos communiqué asked. "It's the sound of their world ending. It's that of ours resurging."
This Zapatista resurgence wasn't just meant to coincide with Maya scripture, however. Dec. 22 also marked the 15th anniversary of a massacre of 45 unarmed Zapatista sympathizers by a shady paramilitary group.