On the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 45 men, women and children (plus unborn fetuses) by paramilitary groups here, it is more than just a time for remembrance.
It was evening, and the inhabitants of Acteal, a small community in the Mexican state of Chiapas, were in church for a Christmas service. Armed men arrived at nightfall, after passing undisturbed with their jeeps through several military checkpoints. They went into the church, attacking everyone in their path with machetes. Nowadays, Las Abejas, the pacifist, anti-capitalist, anti-war association that the community of Acteal was part of, is looking back at the events, as it now has to contend with even more than just the impunity of perpetrators of the massacre and of the Mexican government.
“With the approval of the internal security law, this evil government is confirming its war of extermination against indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, like it did in Acteal,” said Guadalupe Vazquez in a statement at a commemoration event Friday. She was one of the survivors of that night in 1997, when she saw her family murdered before her eyes. Now she is among the 500 delegates of the Indigenous National Congress, whose champion is María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, better known as Marichuy, the female presidential candidate.