(en) Mayor charged in Mexican massacre

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Mon, 29 Dec 1997 08:25:49 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 10:06:56 -0800 (PST) From: MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG> To: "anon.list-members":; Subject: Mayor charged in Mexican massacre


Subject: Mayor charged in Mexican massacre

Agence France Presse - Sun, 28 Dec 1997

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico, Dec 28 (AFP) - A small town mayor with Mexico's ruling party was formally charged Saturday in connection with last week's massacre of 45 villagers in Chiapas, where tensions remained high.

Jacinto Arias Cruz, the mayor of the rugged hill town of Chenalho, appeared before a federal judge here and was charged with providing arms to those who carried out the murders of 45 people December 22.

Arias Cruz is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which has ruled Mexico since 1929.

Assistant attorney general Jose Luis Ramos told reporters here that witnesses pointed to Arias Cruz as the instigator of the massacre in the nearby village of Acteal, saying that in addition to providing arms he supplied the killers with vehicles, including one owned by the mayor's office.

Ramos also said Arias Cruz lied in an effort to cover up the crime, telling authorities that he did not learn of the massacre until the day after it happened. But officials discovered notes in his home with details of the killings.

Twenty-three others appeared before the judge Saturday, bringing to 40 the number of those charged in connection with the killings. Sources said the charges include murder and unlawful transport of firearms.

The weapons used included .22- and .45-caliber firearms, the attorney general's office said.

A total of 140 warrants have been issued against suspects in the bloodshed in Chiapas, a poor state in southern Mexico where the central government's control is shaky against guerrilla activities by the leftist Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

EZLN rebel leader Subcommandante Marcos said earlier Saturday that the masterminds of the massacre came from "very high" up in the PRI-controlled Mexican government. Local church and human rights groups have attributed the killings to those aligned with the PRI.

"According to evidence that has been found one can deduce that the Acteal crime was prepared ahead of time ... with the direction of state government officials and the complicity of several ministries of the federal government," Marcos said in a statement.

Marcos' army first appeared in Chiapas in January 1994, finding support among the indigenous Maya population.

The government said its investigation was only in its initial phase and that it was continuing to seek those who plotted the massacre.

The murdered Maya numbered 21 women, 14 children, nine men and one infant.

Mexican Attorney General Jorge Madrazo described the clashes as stemming from "inter-community and even intra-family conflicts in a context of constant disputes over political and economic power."

"Unfortunately, these are not isolated events," he said in a statement, adding that some of the disputes dated to the 1930s.

There are also ideological disputes between local PRI leaders, who are sometimes only tenuously linked to Mexico City, and Maya sympathetic to the EZLN.

Authorities also said that the number of injured survivors of the killing rose to 31 as six wounded people were found wandering the mountains.

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