In December 1997, in the tiny village of Acteal, Chiapas, Mexico, 45 unarmed people, mostly women and children, were massacred in a church. The paramilitary group Mascara Roja, or Red Mask, took responsibility, claiming the villagers were supporters of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, led by the mysterious Subcomandante Marcos.
Some years later, Ted Somerville, a lawyer from Vancouver on hiatus in Mexico, meets Bailey, a mysterious American woman who had been working in Acteal at the time of the massacre and managed to escape. Bailey has returned to Mexico with one purpose in mind: to seek revenge against Colonel Hernandez, the man responsible for the brutal attack. As Ted's feelings for Bailey deepen and he attempts to help her heal from the unspeakable crimes committed against her, the two become dangerously entangled in the violence of the opposing factions.
Coincidentally, the release of Return of the Jaguar comes just before the 2018 Mexican election where, for the first time, a Zapatista candidate—an indigenous woman—is running for office.