Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Political Leadership in Zapatista Mexico: Marcos, Celebrity, and Charismatic Authority

Daniela di Piramo
Political Leadership in Zapatista Mexico: Marcos, Celebrity, and Charismatic Authority
ISBN: 978-1-935049-21-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-153-8
2010/271 pages/LC: 2010018975
A FirstForumPress Book
"Di Piramo has given us a fascinating literary biography of a fascinating man, embedded in crucial questions about how we should live together in society and about the limits of personal leadership, even for uniquely talented individuals. This is worth reading."—Kathleen Bruhn, Perspectives on Politics

"[An] excellent book.... [Di Piramo] helps us to better understand the context in which the Zapatista rebellion emerged, and the predicaments the movement's leader has tried to resolve."—Maarten van Delden, Bulletin of Latin American Research

"A unique exploration of the tension between the personalistic and the transformative dimensions of charismatic authority. This timely, illuminating book is indispensable to the study of the Zapatista Movement and its charismatic spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos."—Priscilla Falcón, University of Northern Colorado


Can charismatic authority be used to further progressive politics without simultaneously doing damage? Is it possible for a movement with a charismatic leader to achieve an egalitarian society? Tracing the history of Mexico's Zapatista movement and the emergence of its controversial masked spokesman, Subcommandante Marcos, Daniela di Piramo investigates the implications of these questions.

Di Piramo's important distinction between charisma as an individual attribute and charismatic authority as a form of political power is reflected throughout her study. Following Marcos's public trajectory, she focuses not only on how the leader has used his personal appeal to draw international attention to the Zapatista's plight, but also on how the constant spotlight on him has sometimes eclipsed the larger political agenda. Her work is both a significant biography and a penetrating exploration of the nature of charismatic political leadership in Latin America.


Daniela di Piramo is lecturer in politics at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.


  • Charismatic Authority in Latin America.
  • The Chiapas Story.
  • Marcos and the Zapatistas: Storming the World Stage.
  • Zapatista Politics and Other Tales.
  • "Being Marcos": The Celebrity, the Caudillo, and the Revolutionary Vanguard.
  • Revolutionizing Charismatic Authority.