Mexico mourns its dead

International outrage is growing over the massacre of 45 Mayan Indians in Mexico's troubled southern Chiapas province. Yet the state governor shows no sign of resigning.

Survivors of this week's violence in the community of Acteal buried those killed when paramilitary gunmen stormed through a makeshift camp in a blaze of automatic gunfire.

Bill Clinton, the United States President, expressed his outrage. "He condemned the attack as a violation of the most basic human values, and, on behalf of the American people, extends condolences to the families of the victims," Mike McCurry, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. France called on Mexico to investigate the paramilitary groups believed to be behind the massacre.

But Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, state governor of Chiapas, told reporters that he was not prepared to resign over the tragedy. "The task now is not to lay blame, now is the time to apply the law," he said in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital.

The Mexican press has been baying for the governor's head. A Roman Catholic priest, Gonzalo Ituarte, had twice called Mr Ruiz's office with warnings of the carnage. Mr Ruiz said that his office had alerted police in the municipality of Chenalho after the first call and received assurances that nothing was amiss. The slaughter went on for five hours. Meanwhile, the shattered families of Acteal, in Chenalho, returned through the mountains to the scene of the killings, carrying white chrysanthemums and candles for a Christmas Eve Mass said over the victims' coffins by Bishop Samuel Ruiz in Spanish and by local leaders in the Tzotzil Indian language. "May those who did this find peace with their souls and with God, and may they rid themselves not only of their murderous weapons but also their attitude of hatred," the Bishop said.

Women keened over tiny blood-soaked coffins while state prosecutor's officials set up typewriters under a canopy of banana leaves to register the names of the dead.

"In a halfway civilised country, these things can't happen - or at least not without very serious consequences," the Rev Oscar Salinas said after assisting at the grave-side Mass. "But [in the past] the Mexican government has been very insensitive. ... I'm not optimistic things will change."

President Ernesto Zedillo has ordered an exhaustive hunt for the killers. On Thursday, the Federal Prosecutor, Pedro Madrazo, flew to Tuxtla Gutierrez to announce that 41 people were being detained for questioning. Four of the women killed were pregnant, he said, and almost all the victims had been shot in the back as they fled.

Monday's events were further clouded by survivors' testimony that the perpetrators were members of Mr Zedillo's own long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), but carried AK-47 rifles normally supplied only by the army. Some reports said the families sympathised with the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army), led by Subcommandante Marcos, who staged a New Year's Day uprising against the government in 1994.

- Agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map