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Mexico: Witnesses at Risk (5/98)

It’s hot already, as the early morning sun beats down on the crooked tin roof of the new church in Acteal. Just behind the makeshift bench where I’m sitting in the open air is a mass grave. It holds the bodies of 45 victims of a massacre that claimed the lives of mostly women and children here last December.

On either side of me are two young women, survivors of that massacre who lost most of their families. In front sits Maria Santiz Lopez, a leader of the Abeja, a religious group committed to nonviolence. Maria is talking about her traditional dress, and her fears that when it’s worn out, there won’t be another to take its place – that she’ll lose her identity in hand-me-down, non-traditional dresses from well-wishers who don’t understand what her clothes mean to her. read more