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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:20 AM

City of the Disappeared – three decades of searching for Guatemala's missing

City of the Disappeared – three decades of searching for Guatemala's missing
19 November 2012

Twelve stone pillars flank one end of Guatemala City's central plaza, framing the entrance to the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral.

They stand as a solemn memorial to hundreds of those who died or disappeared during Guatemala's civil war – a 36-year armed conflict that claimed some 200,000 civilian lives before the government and guerrilla forces signed a peace accord in 1996.

While most victims of the conflict were Indigenous Peoples and the rural poor, repression and fear also stalked the streets of Guatemala’s cities. The names etched in gilded letters on the pillars outside the Cathedral include hundreds of people from Guatemala City who were put to death or taken and never heard from again.

In the early 1980s in particular, the army and police force in the capital killed or kidnapped scores of people in the guise of putting down a leftist insurgency – most of their targets were outspoken student leaders, trade unionists and human rights activists.


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