Raúl Vera: Ayotzinapa / Acteal, “a message from the state to intimidate the insurgents”
The massacring of social strugglers is “a habit” in Mexico: Raúl Vera
Mexico. “I don’t believe it is organized crime; it’s something else. This is a message to social strugglers; we have already seen it in many places,” accuses Bishop Raúl Vera  –who has carried out his pastoral work in sites of conflict in Mexico, from Coahuila to Chiapas, passing through Guerrero. The massacre of normalistas  at the hands of Iguala’s police, on September 26, has a background in other repressions “and the excessive use of force,” he indicates.
Vera compares the attacks on students –that as of today have resulted in six people executed, 43 disappeared and 25 injured, two of them gravely- with the governmental repression in San Salvador Atenco in 2006. “We’re dealing with State terrorism tactics,” he sums up.
Another day of protests took place in 10 Mexican states on Saturday, October 18, demanding the presentation with life of the 43 students detained and disappeared 3 weeks ago. Marchers in Acapulco (above) also demanded the exit of Governor Angel Aguirre Rivero. Photo by Victor Camacho, La Jornada.
Acteal and Iguala: cruelty
The Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, finds as a coinciding point between the massacre of Acteal, Chiapas, in 1997, and the extrajudicial execution and forced disappearance of students, the cruelty with which it is enacted. In Chiapas, the behaviour towards the murdered Tzotziles–“who had chosen to be pacifists, almost all women and children,” he clarifies – was “Kaibilesque.”  The priest insists that it was a message from the State to intimidate the insurgents.
Another similarity between the massacres, which provoked international condemnation of the Mexican government, is in the impunity which surrounds them. In Acteal, although the paramilitaries were captured, they are now free. And in Iguala, the kidnapping in June 2013 of eight activists and the murder of three of them, belonging to Popular Unity, also remains unpunished. According to a survivor, the one directly responsible for the execution was the mayor, José Luis Abarca, now a fugitive. The widow of one of the murdered leaders, Sofía Mendoza, continues to be threatened by the criminals, the Dominican points out.
In Acteal, Raúl Vera insists, there are testimonies that the state police and the Army concealed and covered up the actions of the paramilitaries. “We see this kind of thing in Iguala,” he compares. The Bishop, as part of the organization called Decade against Impunity Network, participated in two human rights observation caravans to Guerrero, one for the Iguala case.
Vera elaborates on the assassination of Arturo Hernández Cardona, leader of Popular Unity, which “disturbed” Abarca because Cardona organized a “strong” demonstration to demand the implementation of government aid. He points out that Cardona was captured, together with the other seven militants, and taken to empty land on the outskirts of Iguala, where the mayor threatened him and killed him, accompanied “by the criminals,” he relates. The survivor gave their statement in March of this year, “and no one has moved a single finger.”
“In these disappearances, another type of body now participates,” the Bishop explains. And he insists that the criminals are the “arms” of the mayor. He classifies as “absurd” the versions that indicate that the normalistas could have disturbed, in any way, the criminals: “That is trying to legitimize what happened.”
“We no longer know where the cartels end and the organized crime begins within the political structure and the apparatus of justice. We are already fed up with this frightening collusion,” he laments.
 Raúl Vera is the Catholic Bishop of Coahuila, a state in Mexico. He is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre in Chiapas.
 Normalistas are students who attend rural teaching colleges, which principally train campesino and indigenous young people to be teachers in their own communities.
 A Kaibil is a member of one of the army’s death squads in Guatemala during its long civil war. The Kaibiles used unusually brutal tactics to terrorize the population.