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The Acteal Massacre on December 22, 1997

PAZ CON JUSTICIA Y DIGNIDAD

ACTEAL

To understand the Acteal massacre in the context of the Chiapas and Zapatista struggle, watch the video-documentary:
THE VICTIMS OF THE WAR IN CHIAPAS




The Acteal Massacre was a massacre of 45 people attending a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic indigenous townspeople, including a number of children and pregnant women, who were members of the pacifist group Las Abejas ("The Bees"), in the small village of Acteal in the municipality of Chenalhó, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was carried out on December 22, 1997 by unknown paramilitary forces.

While the Las Abejas activists professed support for the goals of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, they renounced their violent means. Many suspect this affiliation as the reason for the attack, and government involvement or complicity. Soldiers at a nearby military outpost didn't intervene during the attack, which lasted for hours, and the following morning, soldiers were found washing the church walls to hide the blood stains.

The EZLN and many Chiapas residents accused the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of complicity, and following the change of government in 2000, survivors alleged that the investigation was being stalled, with authorities refusing to question or arrest suspects in the attacks.

Las Abejas, composed of people from 48 indigenous communities in the highlands of Chiapas, continue to work for peace and demonstrate their solidarity with other social struggles by issuing communiqués that denounce violence and, most importantly, through actions centered around fasting and prayer. In November 2006, 100 men and 100 women members of the Abejas organized a peace and justice caravan to Oaxaca, to show their support for the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan People (APPO) and denounce the repression and violence perpetrated by the state and federal governments. They also delivered at least three tons of food, water, and medicine to the APPO.

On August 27, 2007, Martín Rangel Cervantes, writing in national daily El Universal, stated that a federal judge assigned to the Acteal case sentenced, on July 22, 18 persons from the Tzotzil ethnic group for their responsibility in this massacre. Each one got 25 years in prison. Links to the Wikipedia as an aid tool were quoted in the sentence, according to the newspaper article.
As of July 2008, the Supreme Court decided to reopen the case due to the consistency of the reports made by different organisms pointing to the lack of accessibility of data of the case.



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