The identity of the Maya Vinic cooperative in the Chiapas highlands was forged in a context of brutal violence. When I first visited Maya Vinic, the group’s advisor told me: “Maya Vinic cannot be understood outside the context of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the Zapatista uprising and the Acteal massacre.”
Less than a week after I visited the site of the Santiago massacre in Guatemala, I found myself in the bed of a pickup truck, rolling out of San Cristobal through some stunning Chiapas landscapes toward the highland town of Chenhaló. We slowed at the entrance to Polhó under the watchful gaze of the Zapatista sentries in their iconic balaclavas, and admired the mural of the Zapatista Guadalupe on the side of the tiny chapel there. We pulled to a stop in the coffee-growing community of Acteal and reflected in reverent silence on the murder of 45 people there just days before Christmas in 1997.