Monday, May 24, 2010

Guatemala / Dos Erres Massacre

Guatemala: Massacre Investigation Breakthrough
By David T. Rowlands
Green Left Weekly, May 23, 2010
Photo: Image of Guatemala's most brutal president, Efrain Rios Montt, with words from a poem by Chilean Pablo Neruda: 'For the one who gave the order of agony, I ask for punishment' (
"Recently declassified documents from US archives have shed further light on the extent of US complicity in Guatemalan human rights crimes, one of Latin America's most brutal examples of population control. The hard-working farmers of Dos Erres, in Peten department, had never asked for much -- just a few acres of recently-cleared land from which to scratch a meagre living in a country racked by violence. When armed guerrillas cut across their land six months prior to December 7, 1982, community leaders had done everything possible to placate the national army, even inviting the soldiers in for inspections. They had nothing to hide, they said. But a psychopathic military killing machine had already condemned them to death on the grounds that they were the soil in which the seed of resistance grows.
Acting on orders issued by the US-backed regional command, a death squad of army Kaibiles (counterinsurgency rangers) entered the peaceful hamlet early that morning, smashing in doors, killing livestock, starting fires and rounding up groups of men, women and children. Hours of rape and torture ensued, followed by execution in small groups. After being shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer, the victims were hurled into a village well or left in nearby fields. By nightfall, more than 250 were dead -- almost the entire population. There were two child survivors -- one who escaped and one, Ramiro Cristales, who was spared by his parents' murderer only to be subsequently raised as a domestic slave (reputedly an army custom). Cristales, now aged in his 30s, has recently come forward at considerable risk to his own life as an eyewitness to the horror at Dos Erres. His testimony to the Guatemalan truth commission has been corroborated by previously classified material obtained by the National Security Archive's Guatemala Documentation Project under the US Freedom of Information Act. [...]"

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