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Mexico makes deal to defuse naked Zapata painting row

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Mexico City (AFP)

The verdict is in: the painting of Emiliano Zapata wearing nothing but a pink sombrero and heels can stay.

But the Mexican Revolutionary hero's descendents will be allowed to place a text beside it stating their strong objections to the work, which shows Zapata draped suggestively over a white horse with a giant erection.

Those are the terms of a deal announced Thursday to defuse what had become a burning, at times bloody debate in Mexico over a painting that depicts the mustachioed peasant leader in an effeminate, pin-up style pose his outraged family described as "gay."

Under the deal, brokered by the Mexican culture ministry, the painting by artist Fabian Chairez will also be removed from promotional materials for the exhibition, "Emiliano. Zapata After Zapata," which opened last month at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

The exhibition was meant as a tribute to Zapata, a towering figure in Mexican history, on the centenary of his death.

But an outcry erupted over the decision to include Chairez's 2014 painting, "The Revolution," and feature it in advertising for the exhibit.

Scores of outraged farmers stormed the Palace of Fine Arts on Tuesday, threatening to burn the painting and shouting homophobic slurs.

LGBT activists responded with a counter-protest, leading to clashes that left a curator with a bloody nose.

Zapata's descendants meanwhile threatened to sue the painter and the head of the Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico's premier cultural center, for "denigrating" his image.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has declared 2019 the "Year of Zapata," instructed his culture minister to intervene.

"It was agreed that 'The Revolution' will remain in the exhibition, with an informational plaque beside it stating the Zapata family's position, making clear that they disagree with this interpretation," the ministry said in a statement.

Visitors will also receive a pamphlet on Zapata's life and legacy, it said.

Both sides "expressed their support for diversity and condemned violence against members of the LGBTTI+ community and support for their rights," it added.

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