After Massacre, Chiapas Villagers Return Home

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Residents are slowly starting to return to Acteal, the small Chiapas village where 45 Tzotzil Indians were massacred last week by supporters of Mexico's ruling party. Even as the survivors of the massacre struggle to rebuild their lives, TIME Latin America Bureau Chief Tim Padgett says "the tragedy in that remote little corner of Mexico may result in profound changes throughout the country."

The 1994 Zapatista uprising in the impoverished southern state set the stage for the recent democratization of Mexico, says Padgett. "We're going to see unprecedented pressure for the resignation of senior state government officials, who are accused of allowing the massacre to have happened by failing to respond to the warning signs that had been coming for months."

Padgett believes that democratization, which has seen the ruling party lose its majority in the legislature, has created a power vacuum which is being exploited by criminals and petty officials in a rising tide of violence. "Public insecurity is at an all-time high. The massacre may serve to make Mexicans realize they have to do something to stop the 'Columbianization' of their country."