Chiapas: accused mastermind in Acteal massacre dies

Antonio Vázquez Secum, named by Mexico’s Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) as the author of the December 1997 Acteal massacre, died Nov. 17 at his home in the village of Quextic, Chiapas. Secum, who was over 70 years old, was freed from Cerro Hueco prison last year when he contracted pneumonia. The PGR’s “white book” on the affair said he led a group of eight men from Miguel Utrilla Los Chorros hamlet in the attack on nearby Acteal (both in ChenahlĂł municipality) in retaliation for the slaying of his son, AgustĂ­n Vázquez. He was among the first arrested for the massacre early in 1998. (La Jornada, Nov. 20)

According to the investigation findings posted on the website of the Mexican Presidency, AgustĂ­n Vázquez was killed in an ambush by masked men on Dec. 17, 1997, and the powerful “cacique” families of ChenalhĂł identified the perpetrators as residents of Acteal. (“Chiapas: Cobertura Especial,”

The Chiapas state government has opened a new investigation into the Dec. 22, 1997 slaying of 45 unarmed Toztzil Maya peasants—including children and pregnant women—at Acteal. The announcement said the investigation will be “objective, scientific and, above all, without prejudice.” Las Abejas, the Maya Catholic pacifist group targeted in the massacre, has long been demanding a new investigation. (La Jornada, Nov. 23)

Las Abejas continue to protest the militarization of the Chiapas Highlands. Massacre survivor Roberto PĂ©rez recently said that the permanent military presence has led to a growing incidence of prostitution among the Maya women of the zone. (CMDPH, Nov. 20)

Las Abejas has announced that they will be hosting a “National Encuentro Against Impunity” at Acteal on the anniversary of the massacre this year. (Zapateando, Dec. 1)

See our last posts on Mexico, and on Chiapas and Acteal.