The Acts of the Democracies

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1998

Guatemala

The National Widows Coalition in Guatemala releases a report based on 3,700 interviews in 12 provinces. The report identifies 1,093 cases of extrajudicial executions, 511 disappearances, 21 civilian deaths during battles, 139 cases of torture and 110 deaths due to the flight into the mountains to escape military attacks. According to the report, 75% of all the violations registered were attributed to state forces, just over 1% to anti-government guerrillas.

The Historical Clarification Commission, headed by Christian Tomuschat (a German lawyer and human rights expert) made the following observations:

"The Guatemalan army was involved in most of the atrocities committed, and was blamed for 93% of all massacres, tortures, disappearances, and killings during the civil war. It carried out 626 massacres during a scorched-earth counter-insurgency campaign in the early 1980's. The USA CIA sponsored human rights violations and USA government policy until the mid 1980's helped perpetuate the conflict."

Tomuschat accused the CIA of "directly and indirectly" sponsoring "illegal state operations" during the armed conflict.

The total number of dead and disappeared is far higher than previously thought, more than 200,000 people, mostly Mayan peasants, with large numbers of children and women. Special brutality was directed against women, especially Mayan, "who were tortured, raped and murdered."

Guerrillas of the Guatemala National Revolutionary Unit were blamed for committing 32 massacres, or 3% of all abuses.

He concluded that "Until the mid 1980s, the [USA] government and USA private companies exercised pressure to maintain the country's archaic and unjust socioeconomic structure."

The USA ambassador to Guatemala, Donald J. Planty, criticised the Commission's findings for implicating the USA. The USA president, Bill Clinton, admits that USA support of repressive forces in Guatemala "was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake"; no apology or compensation was forthcoming however.

© 2020, KryssTal


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