Lupita

Lupita is a short documentary profiling the work of indigenous rights activist and Acteal massacre survivor, Guadalupe Vazquez Luna, known as Lupita.

In 1997, just before Christmas, a community of peaceful, unarmed, indigenous activists in the village of Acteal, were at prayer in church, when government-supported right-wing paramilitary soldiers burst in and opened fire. 45 people were brutally massacred, including 3 pregnant women. Lupita, only a child at the time, saw her mother shot first, then was told to run by her father before he also died. She lost almost a dozen family members, including both her parents. Her life’s mission has been to get justice for the dead.

Lupita’s fearlessness is a thing to behold as she leads a protest march to a nearby military post. The official national military initially denied all involvement, despite the fact that they stayed in their outpost in the hills above the village and didn’t intervene to stop the massacre, which lasted hours, as the paramilitary soldiers in the church below dispatched wounded survivors, and stabbed the pregnant bellies of dying women. Lupita’s march comes right to the gates of the military post and demands that they take responsibility and admit their involvement. The soldiers’ response is pitiful, as they mumble that they personally weren’t there at the time, and it wasn’t them who pulled the trigger in the church that day. But Lupita drives at them – but you are camped on our land, as part of the same army there to enforce the power of the same people with the same interests. Where is your conscience? She tells them that if they continue to take the money and shrug, to remain blind to the bloody establishment they are a part of, they will continue to be slaves, and raise their children to be slaves. She says all this to them while they stand there with automatic rifles, and she stands there with nothing but braids and a shawl.

For decades the struggle continues, with Lupita having to balance her fight for justice with living her life, growing up, becoming a mother, and continuing her way of life in Acteal. She passes down to the next generation the values her parents taught her, the solidarity she shares in the legacy of the Zapatista movement, and the hunger for justice for their slain kin. All the while, this young woman in a tiny village tries to take down the former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, and numerous ex-government ministers.

Because of the efforts of Lupita and people like her, in 2020, 23 years after the massacre, the Mexican government admitted its involvement, and jailed over a dozen people for their crimes. The strength of this woman, to move such a mountain, to fight year after year for decades, is inspiring, and moving, and hopeful.