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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:25 AM

Remembering Guatemala

By Frida Berrigan

Source: Waging Nonviolence

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The country was full of wandering spirits. At that time, Guatemala was just beginning to emerge from more than three decades of armed conflict. Human rights organizations estimated that 200,000 people had been killed and another 50,000 disappeared. These were conservative figures. The vast majority of the killings were carried out by the military and paramilitary groups — which enjoyed political, economic and military support and training from the United States. The war had ended and the United Nations had begun a peace and reintegration process, bringing combatants from both sides back into civil society.

I was there as part of a delegation visiting the sites of military and paramilitary massacres. The mass graves that scarred the country were being exhumed, survivor testimonies were being recorded and funerals were being held. I was working with the Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA), and we had raised money to fund exhumations and the construction of monuments bearing the names of those killed in massacres.

It was a tough trip. We listened to story after story after story. We wept endlessly. We were reminded again and again of the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic, military and political support doled out by Washington over the decades to repressive oligarchs in Guatemala City. We heard about human rights violations and crimes carried out by Guatemalan soldiers trained at the U.S. School of the Americas. We visited modest monuments inscribed with the names of men, women and children slaughtered by government-backed death squads. Some of these concrete and rebar structures had to be rebuilt again and again. As soon as they were erected, soldiers came with dynamite or bulldozers or sledgehammers and knocked them down. Despite enjoying almost complete impunity, the military was threatened and destabilized by these simple truth tellers. We saw one monument that was as big as a tank, built up with stones and concrete, fortified with rebar dug deep into the hillside, surrounded by rutted trenches. The villages boasted that the military had not been able to get rid of it yet.

The Guatemalan Catholic Church was supporting a massive truth and reconciliation process, interviewing survivors and telling the harrowing stories of violence experienced mostly by indigenous and poor people during the war. The interviews were conducted in more than two dozen languages and testimony collected from thousands of people. They were planning to produce a detailed and unimpeachable report that would “name names” so that crimes could be prosecuted at some point when political will and courage asserted themselves. Two days after that report — Guatemala: Nunca Más — was released in 1998, Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, the man who spearheaded the effort, was beaten to death.


http://www.zcommunications.org/remembering-guatemala-by-frida-berrigan

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:18 PM

1. Had no idea the army has kept going back to destroy mass grave markers

where they have committed their unholy massacres. Pure evil. We have supported this army with US tax dollars, and training at the SOA, etc., etc., etc.

Too evil to allow the people to mourn, and remember those who were tortured, terrorized, and murdered, the lives stolen from families and neighbors, from the lives they were given for a higher purpose.

Hope the killers haven't had a good night's sleep since they decided it's fine to become demons against the human race, to spread death and suffering.

Amazing, and not in a good way.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:25 PM

2. I learn something new about all of this every day, and very little of it's

good. Before reading here, I had no idea just how brutally and horrifically the people of LA had been treated - in so many places, and for so long. I hope those creatures and everyone who trained and funded them all rot in hell.

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Response to polly7 (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 01:48 AM

4. Most of us had no idea. Our disgraceful media is to blame for that, working for the

criminals who support torture and dictators, our history in LA is tragic and criminal and it's reprehensible that people like Henry Kissenger will never pay for his part in it. It speaks volumes that we treat criminals like him with so much respect, while smearing people like Chavez. Thankfully the rest of the world is not fooled.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 01:32 AM

3. Oh my God!

"Two days after that report — Guatemala: Nunca Más — was released in 1998, Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, the man who spearheaded the effort, was beaten to death." (from the OP)

I did not know this. In 1998! I am speechless!



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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 01:50 AM

5. I did not know that either. So much was kept hidden from us. And if it was not for the internet

we still would not know. We do not have a news media, we have a propaganda machine. That should be the first issue that this new Liberal movement takes on, a truly free press so our own criminals can no longer operate in secret to support some of the world's worst dictators, as we are still doing.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 02:25 AM

6. These right-wing deviants committed so many atrocities

they all blur together, sometimes.



Bishop Gerardi's image


As his murder is something too personal to post, here's his Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Jos%C3%A9_Gerardi_Conedera

~~~~~
Here's an article on the release of his murderer last July:

Guatemala frees ex-colonel who killed campaigning bishop

Byron Disrael Lima Estrada was in jail for killing of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi, who wrote report on civil war crimes by army

Associated Press in Guatemala City
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 14 July 2012 01.34 EDT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/14/guatemala-frees-colonel-murder-bishop

(This happens the year they "elect" the "Iron Hand" former death squad officer who has been accused of horrendous human rights abuses himself. Quite the coincidence.)

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