The Consultation, the past that is the present


Squadron 421 on stage in Spain

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The geography of Mexican horror had, at the end of the 20th century, a peak moment. Atrocity became a form of daily government. The terror established a new nomenclature. It was called Acteal and the Northern Zone of Chiapas, Aguas Blancas and El Charco, the Loxichas.

Atrocities were also baptized with names of victims, like the name of the teacher Magencio Abad Zeferino, an indigenous Nahua of the Olinalá region. Soldiers tortured him in the last days of 1996. “You will remember. We’re going to do the same thing to your son,” they told him, while they savagely beat him and gave him electric shocks. For that and other cases, the CNDH issued recommendation 100/97, about torture, disappearance, and arbitrary detentions by the Army in Guerrero (

Massacres, militarization, prison, extrajudicial executions, torture, forced sterilizations and police persecution were the constant of the last president to leave the ranks of the PRI in the last century, the prophet of neoliberal globalization: Ernesto Zedillo. Canal 6 de Julio ( and Hermann Bellinghausen ( baptized it “the invisible genocide.”

Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, among other states, were transformed into counterinsurgent hunting territory. Promoted by the State, paramilitaries flourished like mushrooms in the rainy season.

Dozens of military barracks were constructed in the most remote regions of the country. Overwhelmed, the soldiers irrupted in indigenous communities. Women became the spoils of war.

Decent people, public officials, armed forces and members of the Nacional Human Rights Commission, denied the existence of the war that didn’t have a name and that was executed through paramilitaries. Overall, they didn’t have to be held accountable to anyone for their atrocities ( They called them “civilian armed groups.” In Chiapas, they were baptized with the most diverse names: Paz y Justicia, Opddic, Chinchulines, Primera Fuerza, Máscara Roja and MIRA.

Between 1995 and 2000, Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice) in the Northern Zone of Chiapas murdered more than 100 indigenous Chols, expelled 2,000 campesinos and their families from their communities, closed 45 Catholic churches, and attacked Bishops Samuel Ruiz and Raúl Vera, stole more than 3,000 head of cattle and raped 30 women (

The high point of this offensive was the Acteal Massacre, a crime of State. On December 22 1997, paramilitaries savagely murdered 45 displaced persons belonging to the Las Abejas group, who were praying for peace in a chapel (

Outrage upon outrage, the massacres of Aguas Blancas, in June 1995, at the hands of police, and of El Charco, in June 1998, by the Army, were very painful moments for the people of Guerrero. Mourning, helplessness and anger prevailed. The mafia-like power linked to the soldiers, ministerial police and caciques showed its most bloodthirsty face. 17 campesinos were murdered in Aguas Blancas, 10 indigenous and an UNAM student in El Charco. Things didn’t stop there. The communities were harassed, and not just a few leaders of both movements were later disappeared or murdered.

Years later, now during the government of Felipe Calderón, after the disappearance and execution of the Mixtecos Raúl Lucas and Manuel Ponce, in 2009, the list of regional indigenous leaders murdered, mostly by criminal groups increased insanely, in what is a counterinsurgency of subrogation (

The entire weight of the State (Zedillo said it) fell on the Zapotecs of San Agustín Loxicha, starting at the end of August 1996. An army of occupation was turned on the entire region. One after another, illegal arrests, torture, 22 forced disappearances, clandestine executions and illegal searches took place. Soldiers and police initially arrested more than 250 people, starting with the municipal authorities, accusing them of belonging to or collaborating with the EPR. Hundreds of judicial files were fabricated against indigenous people.

Despite this carnage, the intellectuals who benefitted during the six-year term of Zedillo with juicy contracts and who enjoyed privileged treatment with the president have wanted to present him as an apostle of democracy.

No authority was tried for those crimes. At most, it cost Rubén Figueroa and Emilio Chuayfett their jobs. Impunity was the name of the game. Even worse, the past wasn’t left behind. Without self-criticism, prominent figures in the Zedillo administration, like Esteban Moctezuma (Secretary of the Interior and of Social Development) and Olga Sánchez Cordero, in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, who was appointed as a result of the presidential coup to reform the Judicial Power and appoint new ministers (, occupy prominent positions today.

Due to the horror of the Zedillo years, and for all the other horrors that have been experienced over the last half century, it’s important to participate in the August 1 Consultation [1] looking at the victims. Convert it into a mobilization in favor of a truth and justice commission that clarifies the multitude of offenses committed by the figures with power against those who struggle and resist.

[1] The August 1 national consultation is a national referendum in Mexico on whether or not past presidents can be tried for crimes committed in office after they leave office.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: