chapter  4
36 Pages

The Juxtaposed Meanings of Acteal

Gustavo Hirales Moran, a journalist and government representative in the 1996 San Andres dialogue with the EZLN, best represents the interpretation of Acteal as a communitarian (read tribal) and religious conflict. Supporting Mexican official interpretations, Hirales believes the massacre originated strictly at the local level. The causes of the massacre are found in the divided and conflicting indigenous communities of Chenalho and in the cultural, polit­ ical and religious aspects that fermented their violent identities. Hirales char­ acterizes the social reality of Chenalho as a political, cultural and religious syn­ cretism that has generated a tribal war, similar to African and East European contexts (Hirales Moran 1998, 14). His thesis is supported by several local experiences of expulsions and displacement prior to the massacre. In his words:

Hirales Morans presentation of the facts of Acteal reflects numerous official documents of the Attorney Generals Office (PGR) published under the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon. Among them, the Libro Blanco Sobre Acteal (White Book on Acteal) constitutes one of the most detailed reports on facts and people connected to the massacre (PGR 1998). Based on the assumption that the Acteal massacre was the effect of increased tensions between opposing communities and parties in Chenalho, they blamed the EZLN, particularly the Polho autonomous base (Hirales Moran 1998, 135). In this interpretation, the existence of paramilitary groups is denied and purpose­ ly designated instead as “violent armed indigenous communities” (ibid, 35). Obviously no government agencies are blamed for the massacre and no state of national planning or compliancy is considered (Correa 1998 c f .). Rather, the

Acteal massacre is explained as a violent local and communitarian reaction to the rebellious enthusiasms fermented by the Zapatista autonomous communi­ ty in Polho and the CDHFBC.