Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, December 21, 2017

20 year anniversary of the tragedy of Acteal

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from Reforma and La Journada articles

Subject Matter: Massacre of 45 men women and children by Government agencies
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required

The poster reads, welcome to the sacred land of the Martyrs of Acteal. A site of conscience, house of memory and of hope. 20 years of impunity, 25 years of organization

Reporter: Edgar Hernandez
Today, activities began to commemorate the Acteal massage that occurred 20 years ago in the municipality of Chenalho, Chiapas, in which 45 indigenous people died. Survivors, relatives of the victims and organizations headed by "Las Abejas", to which the victims belonged, today began a day of activities that will last three days to remember the tragedy.

At noon they started with a prayer in Tsotsil, but the activities included religious ceremonies, cultural events, artistic presentations, documentaries, pilgrimages, pronouncements and a popular dance.

It is expected that Jan Jarab, Representative in Mexico of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will participate during the meetings; as well as the Bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo, Coahuila, Raul Vera.

Just last December the 10th, the pacifist organization "Las Abejas", to which the 45 victims assassinated on December 22nd, 1997 belonged, turned 25 years of its foundation.

In a communique issued on the occasion of its anniversary, they said that they arose after five of his comrades were released after being accused of murder by the then PRI municipal authorities of Chenalho.

"We realized that when organized, we could do things and achieve great things and, one of those tangible achievements was the liberation of our comrades, because they were innocent."

They regretted that in 25 years, conflicts prevail in indigenous communities, encouraged by the Government, such as the territorial dispute between the Chenalho and Chalchiuitan, which has generated the displacement of many people who are suffering from hunger and cold.

The insecurity that something very unfortunate can happen to them like the Acteal massacre, they warned. In a document of four pages, the forced disappearances, some committed by the Mexican State, were affirmed. In addition, they demonstrated against the Law of Internal Security and in support of Jesus Patricio Martinez, independent candidate for the Presidency of Mexico.

La Journada reported on the incident at the time
The Acteal Massacre, the culmination of a state policy against indigenous people ( Otis: This seems a regular occurrence in Mexico, when one takes into account the auto defensas of Michoacan).

The killing of 45 indiginous people in Acteal, Chiapas on December 22nd 1997, was the result of the official policy followed to punish and dismantle the indigenous people of San Pedro Chenalho who adopted a path of resistance and the construction of their own Government. ( Otis: as allowed in the Mexican Constitution).

Documenting the role of the state institutions in that region in the escalation of violence in Chenalho, allows us to understand the official responsibility in the massacre, perpetrated by paramilitaries, protected and armed by civilian and military authorities.

Acteal's crime was part of an undeclared war organized by the State Public Safety Council, in which federal and state agencies participated. Under a military logic there were decided programs and investments in the indigenous areas.

The Government encouraged or artificially created land, political or religious conflicts to confront the communities and thus justify military intervention.

The council, directed in the facts by the Seventh Military Region, under the command of General Mario Renan Castillo, created in September 1997 the public security committees in the communities of Chenalho, integrated with the members of the armed anti-Zapatista groups.

Protected by state police and by the army, these committees established a regime of terror, while promoting programs and distributing state and federal aid. The paramilitary experiment began in the northern zone in 1995, with Paz and Justicia, then exported to the Highlands and the jungle.

The executive secretary of the Security Council, Jorge Hernandez Aguilar, in addition to eradicating the traces of the Acteal massacre, led multiple attacks on Zapatisita peoples. He even fired from a helicopter in San Pedro Nixtalucum, in March 1997. In this way, the Government built peace in Chiapas, sowing social polarization and terror.

Use of official programs

The Government of Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro reinforced this policy to co-opt or dismantle the opposition organizations. The social programs of health, education, housing and public services were subordinated to the objective of winning the war of attrition against the Zapatista communities.

For example, the representative of the Secretariat of Attention to Indigenous Peoples (Seapi) in the Security Council was Pedro de Meza, lawyer of the paramilitary group Los Chinchulines, of the municipality of Chilon and political arm of the director os Seapi, Antonio Perez Hernandez, cacique of Chenalho.

Since May 1997, with the violence in Yaxemel and the first refugees, arms trafficking and training camps began. Between September and December, these paramilitaries launched several armed attacks against the Zapatista sympathizers, who defended themselves in Majomut and Chimix. Interestingly, the police established camps in these towns after the attacks. After the violence in Chimix, in October, where houses were burned and looted, a military party stopped the PRI's with an AK47 rifle in their hands; Captain German Parra freed them because they belonged to the PRI.

The council, military intelligence and the National Security and Research Centre presented reports, diagnoses and proposals on the different regions of the conflict zone. Coincidentally, MIRA ( Movimiento Indigena Revolucionario Antizapatista) emerged, a kind of federation of paramilitary groups that operate in several regions of the state with the consent of officials and military.

In the region of Los Altos, the Seapi was in charge of promoting counterinsurgency. Its housing construction program served to draw up lists in communities and mark homes, before paramilitary attacks.

As of November of that year, the intelligence work was intensified through the security committees, which coordinate all the support to the communities through Seapi. In that unit the paramilitary chiefs met frequently with Hernandez Guilar, Uriel Jarquin, a Colonel of Cisen and other military intelligence officers.

Other evidence of government responsibilites

The CNDH recommended sanctioning 17 state government officials for their actions in Acteal. Four of them were consigned, 11 more were disqualified, among them the governor.

In the files of the PGR the first Captain German Parra is involved in the protection of the paramilitaries. Elements from the 38 Infantry Battalion were also involved. Some of its members or former members such as Mariano Arias Perez, Pablo Hernandez Perez and Antonio Santiz Lopez were accused of training and selling weapons used in the Acteal massacre. Santiz Lopez, considered the leader of the paramilitaries, was released despite the evidence against him.

The statements of the detained state police officers confirmed that the security forces protected, armed and supported the paramilitaries, even transported the weapons used in the massacre in vehicles of the Public Security police, and participated in the robberies committed by armed civilians.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Orozco, director of Public Security, now a fugitive from justice, declared that " he was aware that a member of the Army, Captain German Parra returned to friendly Indians an AK47 and an AR15.

Army officers and state and federal authorities supported the operations of the perpetrators of the Acteal massacre. This was stated by Roberto Arcos Jiminez, an agent of the State Public Prosecutors Office who was arrested by the PGR. The official said that the members of the Mixed Operations Bases in Chenalho, in charge of the Mexican Army, protected the armed civilian groups. Arcos denounced Army officers and state officials: Captain Parra Salgado, from 38 Battalion; Eduardo Tamez, official of the PGR in Chiapas; Carlos Vidal, official of the state judicial police, and the police commander Misael Lopez, of the BOM of Pantelho.

Roberto Arcos denounced that on one occasion they surprised armed PRI members in La Esperanza, but that Captain Parra gave the order to free them. " I told Captain Parra that we had to consign those people; he responded in a threatening tone that he did not report anything, that they knew how that problem was going to be solved; to be quiet, or else I would get "heated" or I would disappear."

According to the PGR investigations, at least three officers of the Mexican Army offered protection and possible training to the perpetrators of the massacre. All were transferred to the military region of Veracruz and the Military Justice Office froze the investigation.

Victims of the Acteal Massacre
The incarcerated police officers and Arcos Jimenez claimed to have received instructions to protect the armed groups of Jorge Gamboa Solis, Jose Luis Rodriguez Orozco, heads of the Public Security police, and Jorge Hernandez Aguilar.

These elements are just part of the evidence that leads to the conclusion that the Acteal massacre is a state crime. A thorough investigation is needed to do justice and judge the role of the federal and state governments.


  1. Thank you Otis for reminding us.
    We can never let our guard down.
    I feel so much for the brave journalists among us who are not anonymous and repressed peoples everywhere.

  2. Please elaborate what this has to do with the Drug War of 2017 ?

    1. If you think we only report on drug smuggling activity, you are either very new to this site or incredibly naive

    2. That is correct. Yes we are dedicated to reporting on Mexico's organised crime activities, and that represents 90-95 percent of all posts. However, some stories are just too important to pass on. I give Otis huge kudos for posting this story.

      The story is seldom shared. I have worked with five carocoles of the zapatistas for 7 years. I can tell you the government AND CARTEL stealing of land, farms, distrjuction of homes, schools and attacks on the southern mexico indigenous peoples continue today in full force despite the accord. You just don't hear about it.

      But of course you are a responsible, caring person who wants to learn, right? You aren't one whose motto is "If it doesn't bleed, I don't want to read", are you?
      I didn't think so

    3. Once again, a report of mixed up, who's who, of the real battle that occurred in Acteal. Instead of a straight forward account of who whipped who's ass's. We get this mumbo jumbo of crossfire, wounded, from both sides with NO clear winner. Just more Mexican media of mixed up chaos.

  3. Acteal no se olvida y mucho menos se perdona!! Viva el Ejercito Zapatista por pa
    Liberacion Nacional!! Estos si son hombres de verdad defendiendo al que no tiene voz no como los mafiosos que se la
    Pasan chingando al
    Pueblo cobrando piso hasta a vendedores ambulantes!! Escoria humana!!
    - Guanatos

  4. This was great i didn't know about this thanks .corruption in government since then why am i not surprised.

    1. 10:28 I suggest a list of MUST READ MATERIALS, because it is complicated, just getting through one report making sure it is correct as possible, imagine going through thousands of reports.


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;