PBI-Guatemala accompanies Conavigua at commemoration of Indigenous Maya victims of the internal armed conflict

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On February 24, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“PBI accompanies in the framework of the Day of the Dignification of the Victims of the IAC [internal armed conflict] commemorated every February 25 by the delivery of the Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) in the year 1999, Conavigua Guatemala invited to a forum and presentation of a documentary.

The forum was dedicated to the CEH Guatemala Memory of Silence Report, presented 25 years ago, which collects testimonies about more than 7,500 cases of human rights violations during the conflict. The commission was created by one of the Peace Agreements with the purposes of “clarifying human rights violations and acts of violence that have caused suffering to the Guatemalan people”; investigate the causes of the conflict and make recommendations “for peace and national accord in Guatemala”. One of the commissioners, Otilia Lux de Cotí, shared a summary and key moments of the report’s preparation and insisted on using her recommendations “to build a democratic and inclusive Guatemala.”

Following the Collective Divergence and the Community of Mayan Studies Ixb’alamkyej Junajpu Wunaq (CEMIJW) presented a documentary that was dedicated to a discussion between Mayan scholars Aura Cumes, Edgar Esquit and Kaypa’ Tz’iken on Maya Memory and Resistance 500 years from the invasion.

The event closed with a music concert from the Tujaal Rock group.”


CONAVIGUA is a women’s organization that fights for the individual and collective rights of Mayan women and indigenous peoples.

Ottawa-based InterPares further explains: “Since 1988, CONAVIGUA (Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala, National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala) has been working with local groups of widows to obtain justice and reparations for their family members killed or disappeared during the armed conflict. Present in seven departments of Guatemala, CONAVIGUA has been actively promoting the implementation of the peace accords in Guatemala by denouncing militarization and by promoting gender equality and human rights. In response to the evolution of their member’s reality, CONAVIGUA is increasingly working around the defense of indigenous land against transnational development projects.”

Historical background

The International Center for Transitional Justice provides this overview:

“From 1960–1996, the nation of Guatemala was ravaged by a bloody civil war. The primary parties to the conflict were the authoritarian government and the rebel, leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit (URNG), led by the ethnic minority Mayan indigenous people and Ladino peasants.

The worst violence occurred in the 1980s under the governments of General Romeo Lucas Garcia from 1978–1982, General Efraín Ríos Montt from 1982–1983, and General Mejía Victores from 1983–1986. This period of intensive counter-insurgency saw massacres and “scorched-earth” tactics executed throughout the nation.

On June 23, 1994, the Guatemalan government and the URNG signed an agreement to create the Commission to Clarify Past Human Rights Violations and Acts of Violence that Caused the Guatemalan Population to Suffer.

Guatemala’s Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) was established during the peace process as a conduit for truth seeking and reconciliation across the nation. Like most truth commissions, the CEH began with the signing of a peace agreement and from there embarked on an obstacle-ridden path to the truth.

On February 25, 1999, after two six-month extensions, the CEH released its final report.”

The CEH report

The United Nations-backed Commission for Historical Clarification determined that the Guatemalan military was responsible for 93 per cent of the atrocities – including forced disappearances, massacres and torture – and that 83 per cent of the victims were Indigenous Maya peoples.

The Commission concluded that acts of genocide occurred during the war.

The internal armed conflict killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced more than one million people between 1960 and 1996.

45,000 people are still unaccounted, including 5,000 children.

Israel’s role in the genocide

NACLA has highlighted: “Israeli press reported that 300 Israeli advisors helped execute the [March 1982 military coup that brought General Efraín Ríos Montt to power]… Through the height of la violencia (“the violence”) or desencarnacíon (“loss of flesh, loss of being”), between the late 1970s to early 1980s, Israel assisted every facet of attack on the Guatemalan people. Largely taking over for the United States on the ground in Guatemala (with Washington retaining its role as paymaster, while also maintaining a crucial presence in the country), Israel had become the successive governments’ main provider of counterinsurgency training, light and heavy arsenals of weaponry, aircraft, state-of-the-art intelligence technology and infrastructure, and other vital assistance.”

Rosa De Ferrari has also noted in the University of Pittsburgh publication Panoramas: “Five years before Rios Montt’s coup, in 1977, the U.S. cut off military aid to Guatemala based on human rights violations committed by the military. In a move that many saw as becoming a proxy for the U.S., Israel began arm sales to the Guatemalan government. By the 1980s Israel had become the largest supplier of weapons, military training, and surveillance technology to Guatemala.”

PBI-Guatemala has also posted this poster of a “march for dignity” happening today.

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