Las Abejas Remember the Acteal Massacre


Neither Calderón or Sabines Want to Do Justice for the Massacre in Acteal, Las Abejas (The Bees) Point Out

** That’s the only path that will bring us peace, warns Bishop Raúl Vera during a mass

** 14 years after the 49 murders no intellectual or material author has been punished

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Acteal, Chiapas, December 22, 2011

Upon commemorating the massacre that occurred at this spot in the mountains of Chenalhó on a day like today 14 years ago, the Bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera López, maintained that: “defending justice is the only path that can bring us peace.” He remembered that in those years, while President Ernesto Zedillo extended a hand to the insurgent Zapatistas with the San Andrés dialogues, “with the other [hand] he was organizing death and destruction for the indigenous communities of Chiapas.”

At its turn, the organization Civil Society Las Abejas, to which the victims belonged, declared in its message during the concurrent civil and religious ceremony that the governments of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Juan Sabines Guerrero “have not done justice, other than to ridicule our organization and struggle.” They “do not want justice, peace, or liberty at all,” and they continue “with the policies of the previous governments, and even worse.”

Homage to jTotic

Vera López, who received a special homage from Las Abejas, that call him jTotic (in Tzotzil), exposed with clarity: “Faced with the panorama that we live in the country, of an open war by the current President, where he once again places the Mexican people as the principal victims, as here in Chiapas, justice is not important. In this supposed war against organized crime he once again uses the Army, which is violating human rights and carrying out extrajudicial executions, and their crimes remain unpunished.”

The police –he continued– “are accomplices of those who commit robberies, murders, kidnappings and forced disappearances. The criminals have allies inside the three levels of government: federal, state and municipal; otherwise they would not have the protection that keeps 98 percent of their crimes unpunished.”

The Catholic prelate of Saltillo, who was a bishop here jointly with Samuel Ruiz García at the time of the massacre, summarized that 14 years ago, “victims of the Mexican government’s low-intensity war, which had paramilitary groups, armed, paid for, and trained by the Army as its principal actors, were 49 murdered people: nine men, 16 children and adolescents, 20 women and four not yet born, still in their mother’s womb.”

Accompanied by the bishop of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi, Vera spoke this noon having on one side two large canvases, one with the printed names of all those murdered on December 22, 1997, and the other, with the crimes’ intellectual and material authors: Ernesto Zedillo, Emilio Chuayffet, Julio César Ruiz Ferro, Homero Tovilla Cristiani, Uriel Jarquín Gálvez, Jorge Enrique Hernández Aguilar, David Gómez Hernández, Antonio Pérez Hernández and Generals Enrique Cervantes and Mario Renán Castillo. “They are the principal intellectual authors of the Acteal Massacre,” Las Abejas had asserted minutes before.

According to the Dominican prelate, the preliminary investigation by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) “was prepared in such a way” that even now the intellectual authors cannot be judged, and the material ones “achieved their release from prison with the intervention of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN).” The crime remains unpunished –he said– because the PGR considered that every one of the murderers were held to account, and not as criminal associates constituting a paramilitary group.” Besides, the SCJN’s inquiry in 2010, which permitted the release of more than 40 paramilitaries from prison, “was only based on the PGR’s records,” because the survivors were not called [to testify].

“Those armed groups attacked the peoples to expel them from their lands, pull them out of their houses and burn them, steal their belongings, the product of their harvests and their scarce heads of cattle. They destroyed their dispensaries and made a gala of violence against their chapels.” “Soldiers and state police were also responsible for the looting, forced disappearances and murders by the paramilitaries.” They were established in the communities “with the excuse that there was violence in those places.”

Vera López explained that the governmental counterinsurgency strategy sought “to take the water from the fish,’” the fish being “the Zapatista insurgents, milicianos and bases, and the water the social fabric.” The paramilitary action, “driven by the Army,” sought “to impede that the communities could provide any kind of support to the insurgents, because of which they were not able to produce food nor form any kind of organization that would empower the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).”

Said strategy was proposed “to annul any organization that would strengthen the insurgents, thus they went against Las Abejas, which were neither Zapatista bases nor had a violent attitude, but were pacifists, and although living as displaced persons, were organized to vindicate rights and generate conscience faced with the injustices that are lived here since before the beginning of the armed movement.”

He thanked Las Abejas “because it continues resisting so many abuses by the state government as well as the federal, preserving the memory of this abominable crime and reviving our conscience, today, for defending justice.”

The Tzotzil organization’s board of directors, an adherent to the Other Campaign, pointed out that the commemoration “is not political theater or an act with electoral and economic interests, but for the fallen of Acteal and the victims of war by a repressor and undemocratic government.”

In reference to the civil proceeding that is continuing against former president Zedillo in a US court, Las Abejas clarified that it does indeed want him to be punished “for his responsibility in this State crime, but not that they profane the respect and the memory that the martyrs deserve, with hidden, electoral and economic interests.” At the commemoration, they gave Vera López a “baton of power for service to the people, a power not corrupt or with impunity.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, December 23, 2011

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