2007-10. Plan de Sanchez: Never again such Savagery
October 30th, 2007
October 30, 2007
Issue: Post-War / Reparations / Impunity
“In a final effort to separate the guerrillas from their base communities of support, considered to include around 260 thousand civilians, the Army unleashed against these populations massive and indiscriminate massacres in addition to burning homes, destroying crops, killing domestic animals, and stealing personal belongings. Survivors were then chased into the wilderness, besieged, terrorized, and starved. Through such tactics, survivors were forced to surrender and concentrate in ‘special camps’. This practice of massacres, persecutions, burning, looting, and besieging has been determined the scorched earth policy.” (1)
“On July 18, 1982, in the Plan de Sanchez Hamlet, Municipality of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, members of the Army massacred 268 people, after raping a number of women and torturing others. Many of the survivors were harassed and managed to stay alive in the wilderness. Soldiers and paramilitary groups burned their homes and crops.” (2)
The 36 years of armed conflict in Guatemala left a toll of 200,000 victims, 45,000 detained-disappeared, and according to the Recuperation of Historic Memory report (REMHI), 422 massacres were carried out. Most of the victims were indigenous Mayans. (3)
On April 29, 2004, the IAHRC ruled against the State of Guatemala. However, “towards the end of April 2004, once the IAHRC declared its sentence, a number of threats and attacks were carried out against the witnesses of the massacres as well as the Center for Legal Action in Human Rights (CALDH), which provides their legal assessment.” (5)
“And yet, the survivors, with the strength and presence of their named and remembered loved ones, are alive and fighting for truth and justice. In a global order governed as much by greed and abuse of power as by anything else, the people of Plan de Sanchez are the truth-tellers, the real justice and equality seekers.” (6)
Juan Manuel Jeronimo, massacre survivor and legal witness, declares: “You cannot heal what has happened by saying ‘We are sorry’. We have unhealable (sic) wounds. Who tried to eradicate our community, and why? Is it because we are Indians? And the guilty ones, the ones who ordered these massacres, where are they living now? Are they not living as millionaires, able to go to sleep every night in their homes with their families, lying in the arms of their loved ones? And us?”
A survivor declares: “What we want is penal justice against those responsible for the massacre.” In Guatemala, however, impunity continues to rule. (9)
Versión en español aquí.
1 Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG). Guatemala: Nunca Más. Informe Proyecto Interdiocesano de Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (REMHI). Tomo II: Los Mecanismos del Horror. 1998. P. 2.
2 Guatemala, Memoria del Silencio. Informe de la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH). Tomo XII, Anexo III, P. 97.
3 ODHAG. Op. Cit. P. 47.
4 Informe de Observación de la Coordinación del Acompañamiento Internacional en Guatemala (CAIG). May 2006. P. 3.
6 Russell, Grahame. “Here We Are. We Are Alive”. December 14, 2005. (http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/143/33/).
7 Rosenberg, Mica. “Guatemala Massacre Survivors Paid after 24 years”. Rights Action Newsletter, March 2006. P. 7
8 CAIG. Op. Cit. P. 5.
9 CAIG. Op. Cit. P. 6.