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Latino Daily News

Thursday September 22, 2011

Former Mexican President Zedillo Being Sued for Role in 1997 Massacre

Former Mexican President Zedillo Being Sued for Role in 1997 Massacre

Photo: Former Mexican President Zedillo Being Sued for Role in '97 Massacre

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In 1997, 45 Tzotzil Indians in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico. Now, relatives of the victims are suing Mexico’s former President Ernesto Zedillo for allegedly facilitating and failing to intervene in the killings then trying to cover them up.

A Miami law firm filed suit against Zedillo, now a faculty member at Yale University, in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, claiming that before and after the 1997 massacre, Zedillo and Mexico’s former attorney general, Jorge Madrazo Cuellar, worked to cover up their roles in the event by way of a secret government plan.

The plan, known as El Plan de Campaña Chiapas 94, called for the arming of civilian forces, police and the military to combat the rebellion.

And though Zedillo publically decried the deaths, he is accused of complicity in the killings, in part because his administration chose to violently crackdown on the rebellion and dismissed chances for talks.

In 1997, Zedillo issued a statement saying, “Those who participated in the planning and execution of this crime must receive the full rigor of the law, regardless of their social, political or religious condition, since nothing can justify the atrocity which they have committed.”

On December 22, 1997, in the town of Acteal, Chiapas, men carrying assault rifles killed 45 unarmed people, including 15 children, inside a church, because they were members of the rebellion known as “Las Abejas” or “The Bees,” a grassroots Roman Catholic group. The group supported Indian-rights that were being defended by the Zapatista National Liberation Army.