Ten Years After the Massacre at Acteal the Commercial Media, Governments and Academia Try to Avert the Responsibility of the State
Since Thursday, with the Attendance of Human Rights Advocates, the Summit Against Impunity is Taking Place in Acteal
By Juan Trujillo L.
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
December 22, 2007
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México- This Saturday, December 22nd, is the 10th anniversary of the massacre that took place in the indigenous community of Acteal. This event left an open wound in both international and national memory; surviving victims are still demanding justice.
This date is highly symbolic for indigenous from Las Abejas organization, for the autonomous Zapatista municipality of Polhó, and also for state and federal governments who still carry the burden of the acts, omissions and impunity of their predecessors.
The Summit against Impunity has been taking place since last Thursday amidst a growing counter-insurgent ambiance on behalf of the Mexican Army and paramilitary groups around the rebel communities. The objective: to combat impunity.
The summit congregates more than 45 peace promoting organizations, activists, Human Rights advocates and witnesses. It seeks to expose testimonies and evidences of the massacre, joining the battle – which begun last November – against the biased way the media, intellectuals and government have portrayed this event. A new version of what occurred ten years ago is on the works.
This “revised” version is based on two important sources. The first is the re-reading of the book Libro Blanco de Acteal (published in 1998 by the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) and the Judicial Defense of the 86 paramilitary inmates, the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), with the expertise of the team of lawyers of the National Action Party (PAN in its Spanish initials) Senator Eric Hugo Flores (member of the Presbyterian Church), and the support of Ricardo Raphael de la Madrid, researcher for the Autonomous Technical Institute of México (ITAM in its Spanish initials) and nephew of former president Miguel de la Madrid. The second is the unpublished book Acteal, la otra injusticia, written by Alejandro Posadas from the División de Estudios Jurídicos of the CIDE. This version gathers the testimonies of five of the confessed assassins to ensure that there were only nine murderers, and that the victims were “Zapatistas” and not civilians assembled in a hermitage praying and fasting.
Several media, particularly television, have spread this version. This is the case of the State Channel 11, which last Tuesday during its prime time show Espiral organized a debate entitled Acteal: la injusticia de la justicia. Among the participants were: Journalist and Academic Héctor Aguilar Camín (who since last November has written texts about this “new version” in Nexos magazine) and CIDE researchers Ana Laura Magaloni and lawyer Javier Cruz Angulo. In this show the attendants, as if all of them had previously studied the same script, reached the consensus that the Zapatistas were armed and that only Zapatistas had been murdered.
The Center for Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC in its Spanish initials), unveiled the report about the massacre Acteal a 10 años, recordar para no olvidar, in which it states that “the Mexican State is responsible for the massacre, due to a policy that constantly attacks the civil population in order to weaken the support towards the EZLN.” This work emphasizes the testimonies from the nearly 200 survivors who testified before judicial authorities.
To sum up, according to last Tuesday’s CDHFBC report, the outcome of this massacre, orchestrated by paramilitary groups, ended with the murder of 50 human beings: 9 girls, 6 boys, 21 women, five of which were pregnant, 9 men, most of them mol (elders). This tragic event also left 50 orphaned children. Four were permanently handicapped and the massacre resulted in a large exodus of indigenous.
Out of the 45 bodies, nearly half of the bodies showed knife-inflicted wounds, 12 of the 15 women died because of these injuries, including some cases of crushed skulls. The cause of death of one of the four pregnant women was exposed bowels due to a penetrating wound.
In that same report, as Blanche Petrich also states, in last Friday’s La Jornada publication, Alberto Ruiz Pérez –survivor of the massacre- tells that “when the women were killed, a man removed their undergarments and clothing and raped them viciously (…) There also was a pregnant woman, María Gómez Ruiz de Quextic, who was already dead when someone cut open her belly with a knife, killing the baby inside of her.”
This and other statements are the ones being spoken at the Summit against Impunity which will come to an end this Saturday 22, anniversary of the massacre.
“Prevent another Acteal”: Intellectuals and Activists
During the International Colloquium Planeta Tierra: Movimientos antisistémicos in memory of Historian and Sociologist Andrés Aubry, tens of activists and academics – among them Pablo González Casanova, Sylvia Marcos, Enrique Dussel, Jorge Alonso, Carlos Rojas Aguirre, Jean Robert, John Berger, Naomi Klein y and Belgian priest Francois Houtart – denounced that 56 military camps, special force units and paramilitary groups as the Organización para la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas y Campesinos (OPDDIC) have been threatening and attacking Zapatista communities for a few months now. The intellectuals warned that “we can’t allow another Acteal to happen in Mexico. We can’t force people to fight violence with violence.”
The statement continues: “We are committed with Zapatista Communities to remain vigilant of the unfolding of these events and exhort all men and women of good heart, from México and around the world to keep match of what happens here and to speak freely their solidarity with these Indigenous men and women who have renewed the hope that another world is possible.
Ernesto Ledesma, Director of the Center for Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations (CAPISE in its Spanish initials) released this press release addressed to the Mexican and International public which reminded that “from January 10, 1994 the EZLN committed itself with the Mexican civil society to stop any war-like activity. Fourteen years after this decision, the EZLN has honored its word in spite of the haunting presence of the Mexican Federal Army – who has damaged the lives of the indigenous communities of Chiapas – in spite of the formation of paramilitary groups and in spite of Acteal’s massacre. During this time, the EZLN has put into action the concept of “ruling by obeying,” giving renewed hope with its “councils of good government,” which have improved the life of the Zapatista’s support bases and it has managed to govern effectively in a way that it’s a beacon in the battle for human emancipation.
In this context, Subcomandante Marcos pronounced his final statement of this summit, which he entitled “Feeling the red; the calendar and geography of war” (Sentir el rojo; el calendario y la geografía de la guerra, in Spanish). He explained the reason for this title saying, “like never before, our communities, our female and male companions are being attacked. It has happened before, it’s true, but it’s the first time since the dawn of January 1994 that the social, national and international response has been insignificant or non-existent. It’s the first time that these aggressions come openly from the alleged leftist governments, or are perpetrated with the blatant support of the institutionalized left.”
Finally, he commented that “those of us who have made war are able to recognize the paths through which it is preparing and approaching. The signals of war in the horizon are clear. War, as fear, has a smell. And now we are beginning to breathe its stench in our lands.”
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