They commemorate the Acteal Massacre with a procession and 45 black crosses

The Las Abejas members walk from the Majomut to the temple constructed at the site of the massacre. Photo: Cuartoscuro.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Acteal, Chiapas

In front of “the sacred mountains as witnesses,” the survivors and heirs of the victims of the massacre that occurred here 25 years ago stated that they have always struggled “for a dignified and just life,” and their heart “is a guardian of the memory of our own history and walking as peoples.” The civil society organization Las Abejas, to which the 45 Tsotsiles who were murdered by paramilitaries belonged, also celebrated the 30th anniversary of its founding in December 1992.

The organization’s message, read by Guadalupe Vázquez, survivor as a little girl of the massacre and current symbol of the peaceful struggle and demands for justice, adds: “Our heart, like a monument, preserves the tragic event of the Acteal Massacre,” which took place “within the framework Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan’s counterinsurgency war, designed by the Ministry of National Defense and the PRI government of Ernesto Zedillo.”

Yesterday morning, having previously met at the Majomut sand mine, hundreds of indigenous people walked to Acteal carrying as many black crosses as there were victims murdered 25 years ago. They descended into the ravine that has since been declared the “sacred land of the Acteal martyrs.”

The pilgrims and their companions from the Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas and civil society were distributed on the steps and balcony of the panoramic temple, built on the tombs of the fallen and today sumptuously adorned with flowers, banners, lit candles, a high cross in the center, a modest Catholic altar and portraits of the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz García and the leader of Las Abejas, Simón Pedro Pérez, murdered a year ago by hitmen in Simojovel.

Dominican Bishop Raúl Vera, compañero of Jtatik Samuel Ruiz García in the bishopric at the time of the massacre and current bishop of Saltillo, could not miss the commemoration. For the indigenous people, the brave Bishop Vera, who has always been with them, is their jtotik. [1]

Admitting that: “it would seem that the tragedy has marked us in different ways,” the Las Abejas document states that: “the injustice and abuse of power gave us birth.” It covers the group’s milestones from their struggle for the release of their political prisoners in 1992 to the present day. The “State crime” remains unpunished: “as we have been denouncing month after month for a quarter of a century, the governments, be they PRI, PAN or Morena, instead of applying justice, have created strategies and policies of attrition (wear and tear) towards our organization. That has been their custom for burying truth and justice. The only thing that characterizes us is the tenacity and stubborn long-term memory that we have woven.”

It highlighted the attrition strategies and policies of successive governments, in particular that of Felipe Calderón. Another strategy “has been the procrastination of justice that has caused two divisions in our organization, in 2008 and 2014.”

Impunity has caused “endless conflicts in Chenalhó communities.” The municipality “has been ruled by violence” since 1997. “Impunity for the massacre has not only brought sadness and decomposition of the social and community fabric, but has caused unimaginable violence throughout Mexico. Not only can we say that the Mexican justice system is rotten, but that it is going from bad to worse. It seems that paramilitaries and organized crime have allied themselves.” Las Abejas mentioned Samir Flores Soberanes and Simón Pedro Pérez López.

In another message, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), a historical defender of Las Abejas, said: “It’s inspiring to observe how they build an island of peace and hope in everyday life, a refuge from the storm that surrounds the Los Altos (Highlands) region of Chiapas, where bullets fall like permanent drops and the social fracture widens amid the collusion and inaction of governments.”

Frayba pointed out that “the current federal government has maintained silence and denied before the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights the involvement of Mexican authorities in counterinsurgency actions during the 90s in Chiapas, and has consciously excluded this period from the study process of the Truth Commission.”

Finally, Dr. Adriana Ruiz Llanos, of the Intercultural Health Support Network in Acteal, denounced “the incompetence of the Chiapas authorities to attend to victims of violence.”

[1] jtatik means Father in Tseltal and jtotik means Father in Tsotsil.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, December 23, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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