(en) Zapatista massacre

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 17:30:50 -0700

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--------- Begin forwarded message ---------- From: "Hugh Callaway" <cab2@hotmail.com> To: anarchy-ireland@unamerican.com Cc: anarchoprop@cat.org.au Subject: [aprop] Zapatista massacre Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 14:54:06 PST Message-ID: <19971223225409.22963.qmail@hotmail.com>

An AP article on the Zapatista massacre.

12/23/97- Updated 03:00 PM ET

Report: 42 die in Mexico massacre

ACTEAL, Mexico - Scores of gunmen walked into this village as people prayed in church and opened fire with AK-47s, pursuing those who got away down a mountainside, witnesses said Tuesday. At least42 people died. The attack Monday was the bloodiest in Chiapas state since 135 people died in the Zapatista uprising in January 1994. It occurred in an area in which pro-government and pro-rebel groups have been fighting for power for months. Witnesses said they knew some of the attackers and they recognized them as members of local factions of the ruling institutional revlutionary Party from surrounding villages. Juan Vazquez Luna, a 15-year-old supporter of the rebels in Acteal, said he was praying in the clapboard church Monday when he heard the first shots. He said he went outside to find about 70 men firing AK-47s. Along with many of the other 900 people in this highlands village, he fled down a steep mountainside toward the river, where shallow caves offered some protection. But the gunmen followed, and most of the victims were killed along the banks of the river, Juan said. He said his mother, father and four sisters were killed. Three other siblings were wounded. Mauricio Rosas, director of the Red Cross office in San Cristobal, told the Mexico City radio station Formato 21 that the 42 victims included 21 women, six men, 14 children and an infant. He said the bodies - which were taken Tuesday to San Cristobal, 12 miles to the south - showed signs of being shot and hacked to death with machetes. A state police commander in Acteal, who refused to give his name, said he counted 45 bodies on Monday. Witnesses also said there was an attack in the nearby village of Quextic. The victims were members of the peasant group Las Abejas, which sympathizes with the Zapatista rebels. In 1995, the rebels set up their own government for Chenalho county based in the nearby town of Polho. It is in competition with the officially recognized local government, run by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI. The party's national president, Mariano Palacios Alcocer, rushed to distance his party from the attack, which some have blamed on a group known as Peace and Justice that is affiliated with the PRI. "The PRI rejects violence in all its forms," Palacios Alcocer said. A spokeswoman for the Chiapas state government said she had no information about the attack. The state attorney general sent two people to investigate but also could not confirm the attack. Clashes between supporters of the local government and the Institutional Revolutionary Party have raged for seven months, killing 30 Tzotzil Indian peasants and leaving nearly 7,000 homeless. "It's an incomprehensible situation in which we have not been able to stop the violence," Roman Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz told XEWM radio in San Cristobal. At least 300 people have died in similar clashes in Chiapas state since

the 1994 uprising - by some estimates, 600. Tens of thousands of state police and federal troops have been unable to calm tensions. In some cases, human rights workers have accused police of siding with the ruling party-affiliated peasants who have attacked rebel suporters. Peace talks between the rebels and the federal government broke down more than a year ago, with the rebels accusing the government of stalling on the implementation of a partial accord signed in February 1996. Human rights and Roman Catholic church organizations have called for the renewal of peace talks as a way of stemming the violence.

By The Associated Press

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