Mexico: CPTers Vigil for Peace in Acteal
For immediate release
Nov. 23, 1999
CPTers Vigil for Peace in Acteal
Chiapas, Mexico -- On Sunday, November 21, the same day that thousands
gathered outside the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia, to call for the closing
of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, 120 members of the pacifist
indigenous group Los Abejas (the Bees) and six members of Christian
Peacemaker Teams prayed for peace and demilitarization in Chiapas.
Scriptures focused on the theme of light, and worshippers lit individual
candles, prayed, and sang at each of three sites during the 3 1/2 hour
vigil. The group first hiked up a steep hill to a set of four Mayan crosses
above the Acteal refugee camp where the Abejas, many of whom have been
displaced by paramilitary violence over the past two years, and the CPTers
are currently based. Words from the Gospel of John proclaimed that Christ is
the Light of the World and the Light will not be overtaken by the darkness.
The second site was a single cross by the river that divides the section of
the Acteal community where the Abejas live from the part where the homes of
supporters of the government PRI party are. Psalm 27echoed a prayer for
protection and the confidence that "God is our light and our salvation."
The final station of the prayer procession was the small chapel where the
December, 1997, massacre of 45 Abeja women, children, and men started. The
words of Acts 9, which recounts the conversion of Paul, reminded listeners
of the hope of conversion, even for those whose hearts are most hardened.
During the service at the first site, CPTer Anne Herman, who spent 6
months in prison for her role in a demonstration against the SOA two years
ago, explained that friends of hers would be carrying crosses commemorating
victims of the Acteal massacre in the Ft. Benning witness that day.
Graduates of the SOA have been linked to some of the worst human rights
atrocities in Latin America in recent decades.
Current members of the Mexico CPT team are: Claire Evans (Chicago, IL),
Mark Frey (Newton, KS), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Cliff Kindy (North
Manchester, IN), Sara Reschly (Mount Pleasant, IA), and Lynn Stoltzfus