Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas spoke at a public event dedicated to remembering the victims of the Acteal massacre . During the event, Encinas offered an official apology to the families of the 45 indigenous people killed by armed civilians in the Acteal community, located in Chenalhó , Chiapas .

Authorities and the victims’ families attended the event. Now, 22 years after the massacre, the federal government is taking responsibility for the tragic event, where children, women, and men died. Ernesto Zedillo, PRI, was Mexico’s president at the time of the massacre.

Besides the public apology, Alejandro Encinas explained the current administration will compensate at least 30 people wounded during the attack, as well as the families of those who died.

López Obrador’s government announced it had reached an agreement with the victims’ families months ago. The agreement includes 20 measures to compensate the Acteal victims.

National Human Rights Commission director Rosario Piedra, UN representative Jesús Peña, and Chiapas official Ismael Brito were also in attendance.


The Acteal massacre

According to Amnesty International, Mexican authorities dragged their feet in the investigation and allowed tension to rise in the region. The situation culminated in the massacre of 45 unarmed indigenous peasants in Acteal, Chiapas.

For decades, the international human rights organization insisted that "to help prevent further killings, it is vital that those responsible for the massacre, including all state officials implicated in the incident, be promptly brought to justice.”

A document issued by Amnesty International indicates “compelling evidence on the Acteal massacre on 22 December 1997 shows that the authorities facilitated the arming of paramilitaries who carried out the killings and failed to intervene as the savage attack continued for hours.”

It adds that “not bringing to justice all state officials implicated in the Acteal killings would be unacceptable. It would merely replicate the inaction of the authorities in bringing to justice those high-level officials identified by the Supreme Court as being implicated in the massacre of 17 peasants in Aguas Blancas, Guerrero State, in June 1995.”


Before Acteal

Before the Acteal massacre, reported indicated an “alarming increase in activities by paramilitary groups targeting peasants and both Mexican and foreign human rights monitors.”

Several incidents registered in 1997 suggest the armed groups operated in collaboration with Mexican authorities.

Moreover, one year after Acteal, five peasants were murdered by members of paramilitary groups in Chiapas. In an incident directly involving the military , three indigenous peasants were wounded by soldiers while protesting the arrest of members of their community in Chenalhó, near the site of the Acteal massacre.

Decades ago, Amnesty International denounced that “the authorities’ response to the Acteal massacre has been largely aimed not at those responsible for the killings , but at international human rights observers. Dozens of foreign nationals on human rights missions have been expelled with no opportunity to have their cases judicially reviewed prior to their deportation. Also, the draconian new visa regulations brought in last May have hampered their work.”


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