The Special Investigator (Fiscalía Especial) for the Acteal massacre in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas has announced the discovery in a cave of two AK-47 rifles which are believed to be those used in the Dec. 22, 1997 slaying of 45 Tzotzil Maya peasants. The rifles were found May 22 by police near the community of Los Chorros, Chenalhó municipality, where the attack was said to have been planned. The cave was searched based on information provided by one of the men serving time for the massacre at El Amate prison. His name was not revealed, but authorities said he would be transfered to another prison in Cintalapa for his protection.
The Fiscalía Especial, led by Mariano López Pérez, was created by Gov. Juan Sabines Guerrero at the beginning of the year. The peasant organization that had been targeted in the massacre, Las Abejas, also asserted that the weapons had been sealed in the cave after they were used to slay 21 women-–four of them pregnant–15 children and nine men at the hamlet of Acteal.
“This demonstrates the veracity of our accusations and declarations, that there are arms hidden in the communities of Chenalhó with the presence of paramilitaries,” Las Abejas said in a statement after the discovery. The statement also said that the “intellectual authors” of the attack remained at large, and called for charges to be brought against ex-president Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León; his ex-secretary of Gobernación, Emilio Chuayfett; and the ex-governor of Chiapas, Julio César Ruiz Ferro. (Expreso Chiapas, June 24)
In another communique June 22, Las Abejas protested the growing presence of army troops in the Highlands of Chiapas. Noting the recent charges of atrocities by federal troops in Michoacan, the statement charged that “the soldiers are taking control of public space, intimidating the population and committing abuses.” (La Reforma, June 23)