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Frustrated, Zapatista rebels leave Mexico City

Blaming "caveman politicians" for failing to act quickly on an Indian rights bill or to let them address Congress, the Zapatista rebels announced Monday that they will head back to their jungle strongholds this week.

The 24 rebel leaders made a dramatic two-week march through much of the country to rally support. But their military chief, Subcomandante Marcos, expressed frustration at dealings with some lawmakers.

"Faced with politicians, we will never lower our heads or accept humiliations or frauds," he said at a news conference at the National School of Anthropology and History, where the rebel leaders have been staying.

Marcos earlier vowed to stay in Mexico City until Congress approves the Indian rights bill that resulted from a 1996 agreement between the government and rebels.

But congressmen from several leading parties have said the bill needs to be modified before going to a vote, perhaps by the end of April. Many also rejected Marcos' demand that the masked insurgents be allowed to use the congressional podium to address all lawmakers.

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