Acteal: 26 Years of Impunity and Struggle for Truth and Justice

Commemoration of the Acteal Massacre. Photo: Las Abejas Area of Communication

Friday, December 22, marked 26 years since the Acteal Massacre, a state crime that shocked the country for the genocidal policy implemented by the Mexican government in Chiapas.

For the occasion, the civil society organization Las Abejas de Acteal—active for 31 years in the region—together with the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, spoke out against the lack of commitment of the Mexican state to advance toward justice and punishment for the perpetrators of the crime. “Those responsible continue unpunished. This is an example of the negationist posture and a commitment to forgetting and apathy,” the organizations claimed in a communique.

After 26 years of seeking justice, Las Abejas de Acteal emphasize that they have recently received two notifications from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The case of the Acteal Massacre is nearing discussion and the publication of a Merits Report, which “is important for the recognition of this state crime as one against humanity for which the entire Mexican state is responsible,” Las Abejas stated in a communique.

The Tzotzil organization considers that, “although late, it opens a small window of advancement toward justice and reparation for the survivors, although we know that it will not be complete.”

The Indigenous Tzotziles emphasize the responsibility of government officials who were in power at that time. Specifically, they name the President of the Republic, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León; the Secretary of Government, Emilio Chuayffet; as well as the Secretary of National Defense, General Enrique Cervantes Aguirre, who was even decorated by Andrés Manuel López Obrador in October of this year.

Other officials involved are the ex-Governor of Chiapas, Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro; the State Secretary of Government, Homero Tovilla Cristiani; the State Subsecretary of Government, Uriel Jarquin, and the Municipal President of Chenalhó, Jacinto Arias, among others.

Las Abejas de Acteal emphasize that their struggle and resistance is against social amnesia, which they consider “important to reclaim justice and name those responsible for organizing and implementing the strategy of extermination toward the civil population in the context of the Zapatista insurrection, as well as pointing out the responsibility of complicit government officials.”

Commemoration of the Acteal Massacre. Photo: Las Abejas Area of Communication

In addition to calling out federal and state authorities for obstructing justice for Acteal, they also denounced what they consider to be the “resounding” failure of both the federal government led by AMLO, and the state government led by Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, in in issues related to social justice, peace, and security.

“They have encouraged community division through governmental projects, which represent the continuity of the counterinsurgency by means of manipulation and cooptation. They have opted to embrace, empower, and reward military power, and they have authorized an implicit pardon for political violence carried out in the 1990’s,” the organizations condemned.

For that, Las Abejas de Acteal consider the current situation in Chiapas to be critical.

“We are immersed in a spiral of violence that converges with and involves the historical processes of demanding justice…the crisis of violence in the border zone, which generates serious human rights violations like forced displacement, disappearances, assassinations, extorsion, torture, kidnappings, population control, and silenced communities and municipalities. All of the above in the context of an electoral process that further exacerbates the violence in the territories,” they detail in the communique.

However, the Maya Tzotziles assured that, “In spite of this dark panorama, the processes of struggle and community resistance are constantly articulating, walking the paths of peace, autonomy, territorial defense, and care for Mother Earth, our common home.”

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