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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-26-10 05:16 PM
Original message
Guatemala digs up graves in search for disappeared
Source: Associated Press

Feb 26, 4:54 PM EST
Guatemala digs up graves in search for disappeared

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Guatemalan authorities have begun digging up mass graves at a cemetery where hundreds of people who disappeared during the Central American country's civil war are believed buried.

An official from the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation says 889 people could be buried at the Verbena Cemetery. Jose Suasnavar says investigators hope DNA testing will identify them.

Some 240,000 people, mostly Mayan Indians, vanished or died during Guatemala's 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Some of the victims were buried in the Verbena Cemetery's mass graves when no relative came forward to claim their bodies.

Suasnavar says the exhumations and testing could take up to a year. He spoke Friday after the exhumations began.

Read more:

May 26, 1999
Reagan & Guatemalas Death Files

By Robert Parry

Ronald Reagan's election in November 1980 set off celebrations in the well-to-do communities of Central America.

After four years of Jimmy Carter's human rights nagging, the region's anticommunist hard-liners were thrilled that they had someone in the White House who understood their problems.

The oligarchs and the generals had good reason for the optimism. For years, Reagan had been a staunch defender of right-wing regimes that engaged in bloody counterinsurgency campaigns against leftist enemies.

In the late 1970s, when Carter's human rights coordinator, Pat Derian, criticized the Argentine military for its "dirty war" -- tens of thousands of "disappearances," tortures and murders -- then-political commentator Reagan joshed that she should "walk a mile in the moccasins of the Argentine generals before criticizing them.

Despite his aw shucks style, Reagan found virtually every anticommunist action justified, no matter how brutal. From his eight years in the White House, there is no historical indication that he was troubled by the bloodbath and even genocide that occurred in Central America during his presidency, while he was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the implicated forces.

The death toll was staggering -- an estimated 70,000 or more political killings in El Salvador, possibly 20,000 slain from the contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political "disappearances" in Honduras and some 100,000 people eliminated during a resurgence of political violence in Guatemala.

The one consistent element in these slaughters was the overarching Cold War rationalization, emanating in large part from Ronald Reagan's White House.



Reagan administration's links to Guatemala's terrorist government
By Allan Nairn, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer 1989


Guatemala and the Carter Administration
To the Lucas regime and the businessmen who support it, President Carter's human rights policy was an anathema. Lucas called Carter "Jimmy Castro." Feeling increasingly isolated and betrayed by Carter State Department policy in Guatemala, officials there chose to ignore Washington's urging that human rights violations be corrected.

Businessman Roberto Alejos complained: "Most of the elements in the State Department are probably pro-communist-they're using human rights as an argument to promote the socialization of these areas. We've gotten to the point now where we fear the State Department more than we fear communist infiltration. Either Mr. Carter is a totally incapable president or he is definitely a pro-communist element."

Milton Molina is a wealthy plantation owner who is reputed within Guatemala to have funded and ordered death squad attacks on dozens of peasants and workers. When asked about the squads in a transcribed interview, Molina replied, "Well, we have to do something, don't you think so?" Molina says he and his friends back Reagan "one hundred percent."

The death squads' defenders base their faith in Reagan on direct conversations with him and his top military and foreign policy advisors. According to a Reagan fundraiser, Reagan told ambassador-to-be Carrette, "Hang in 'til we get there. We'll get in and then we'll give you help. Don't give up. Stay there and fight. I'll help you as soon as I get in."

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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-26-10 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. Those are a lot of people to have vanished.
There is a really excellent documentary about the guerillas of Guatemala, who were actually the peasants fighting for their rights, with Rigoberta Menchu. I can't remember the name of it.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-26-10 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I found a Torrent download for that movie a moment ago: When The Mountains Tremble
When The Mountains Tremble - The Story of Rigoberta Menchu

Reviews at the site:
This amazing documentary tells the tale of a war that was barely reported in the media, yet affected a shockingly large amount of people. The film centers around Rigoberta Menchu, an Indian woman who took on the might of the Guatemalan military. As they decimated a helpless Mayan population, they didn't bank on the strength and will power of the inspiring Menchu, but fortunately documentary filmmakers Pamela Yates and Newton Thomas Siegel were present to capture her tale. The film won several independent film awards.

"The 20th Anniversary Special Edition of When the Mountains Tremble remains as startling and sad as it was when first released. Though promoted as "the astonishing story" of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Quiche Indian Rigoberta Mench, the documentary is actually more the story of the Guatemalan people at large, specifically the struggles of the poor and peaceful Indian population that came to be labeled "subversives" by a draconian government. The explanation of the role the Reagan administration played in providing money, arms and training to the corrupt Guatemalan government has relevance to countless other American interventions in foreign affairs. The filmmakers reveal both the complexities and the tragedies of the Guatemalan situation; scenes of Indians digging through massive garbage dumps for useful scraps are juxtaposed with those of government-sponsored beauty pageants in which Indians are proudly paraded in native costumes. Footage of breast-feeding Indians making camp in the jungle to avoid being found (and killed) is equally as compelling as the images from protests and brutalities that occurred in the cities."--Brangien Davis
Thanks for the alert on this documentary.

It's available at Amazon, I just discovered.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-26-10 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I borrowed the DVD from my library last fall.
It's an amazing film.

I'm not really connected to Central America or Hispanic culture, but I was still very moved by the people in this documentary, and I would recommend it to anyone.
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yava Donating Member (384 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 04:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Reagan-supported genocide
At least 500,000 disappeared during his 8 years in the various Latin American countries.
Shame on Reagan and others will come as the Latins pull out the corps, put generals and militia on trial and add these facts to their history school books. Shame on Reagan and his supporters for closing their eyes on this genocide
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-26-10 11:24 PM
Response to Original message
4. K&R --
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