On Dec. 22, followers of the indigenous pacifist group Las Abejas (the Bees) held a ceremony at the hamlet of Acteal, in the highlands of Mexico's southern Chiapas state, to remember the massacre there in 1997, and demand justice in the case. The group accused then-president Ernesto Zedillo and his Government secretary Emilio Chuayffet—today Secretary of Education—of being responsible for the attack, in which 45 unarmed Abejas were killed by a paramilitary group. The Abejas gathered at the "Pillar of Infamy," a monument erected at the massacre site, joined by supporters and those displaced by the violence of the 1990s from throughout the Chiapas Highlands.
The US State Department issued a finding Sept. 7 that former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, now teaching at Yale University in Connecticut, should be immune from a civil lawsuit brought against him in the US in connection with the 1997 massacre at Acteal hamlet in Mexico's conflicted southern state of Chiapas. "The complaint is predicated on former President Zedillo's actions as president, not private conduct," said Harold Hongju Koh, a State Department legal adviser and a professor at Yale Law School, also citing the complaint's "generalized allegations." The US Justice Department submitted the letter to federal District Court in Hartford, where a judge is to make the final determination. "We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the Department of State to grant immunity to the ex-president, which will prevent us from proceeding with the case against him," attorneys Roger Kobert and Marc Plugiese of the firm Rafferty, Kobert, Tenneholtz & Hess told Notmex news agency.