The 45 villagers, including many women and children, were murdered in 1997. They were thought to support the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), an anti-capitalist group fighting for autonomy for Mexico’s indigenous population. The EZLN is based in the Chiapas region.
The Acteal massacre has never been fully explained, but it is said to have involved a local dispute over land and that the Mexican government played no role in it. Some commentators dispute this, pointing out that government soldiers were in the area but did not intervene when the villagers came under attack.