Mexico's Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos started on Sunday a six-month nationwide tour to seek support for Indians and the poor before presidential elections in July.
Marcos, who led hundreds of rebels on the start of the tour, planned to visit every Mexican state to win more supporters to join an anti-capitalist front.
Thousands of supporters cheered and formed a guard of honor for the rebel leader on Sunday who departed from the village of La Garrucha on a black motorcycle with a Mexican flag tied to the back.
It was the first time in four years the rebels left their jungle strongholds in the southernmost Chiapas state since a triumphant tour to Mexico City in the name of Indian rights that made international headlines in 2001.
Marcos has said the tour will allow Zapatista leaders to reach out to leftist groups across the country, creating a national movement that will reshape Mexico.
The rebels have pledged to abandon armed struggle instead of adopting political participation. There has been little fighting since a cease-fire shortly after the Zapatistas took over towns in clashes with police and army in 1994.