The Guatemalan Military Project: A Violence Called Democracy

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Guatemalans have also sought long-promoted legislation requiring a systematic search for the disappeared, Bill , but it has not yet been passed by the Congress. The process has become mired in bureaucratic difficulties and has excluded large numbers of women survivors.

Guatemalan Civil War - Wikipedia

Historically, there has been almost total impunity for crimes committed during the armed conflict. Nevertheless, in recent years a number of emblematic cases have moved forward. The Role of Women in Transitional Justice.

In Guatemala, as in many countries, women have played an integral role in transitional justice processes, both in their communities as well as on a national level. In, , GHRC helped coordinate a series of three workshops that brought women together from across Guatemala who had been involved, in different ways, in these processes.

Human Rights Quarterly

The workshops focused on the real-life experiences of the participants and explored the topic of justice in the most profound sense of the word. During the first workshop some of the women spoke specifically about the transition from staying silent to speaking up about their search for justice. The three workshops also created opportunities in both Guatemala and Colombia for women to share their experiences with transitional justice processes and how they are organizing to create change at the local level.

View photos from the last workshop, carried out in February , here. He was kidnapped, held in secret torture chambers, and then assassinated by the military.

Guatemalan Civil War

Judge Flores received the case file on April 23, and convoked a hearing on April 26 in which she explained the case file would be returned to Judge Barrios. The case files were returned to Judge Barrios on Monday, April 29, and the trial resumed on April However, the order that she accept the evidence implied the invalidity of the annulment, which is likely to be its outcome. Now, influential members of the civilian face of the political establishment have joined in the attack, describing victims of the genocide and human rights defenders as a danger to the nation and a threat to peace, and implicitly threatening them with a violent response.

Some of those who passed as promoters of democracy and peace have removed their masks. While recognizing that the State has not complied with many elements of the peace accords, it goes on to maintain that the army has complied with its commitments to the accords, separating the army from the State, yet goes on to assert:. The accusation of genocide against officials of the Guatemalan Army constitutes an accusation not just against those officials or against the Army, but against the state of Guatemala in its entirety, which implies serious danger to our country, including a worsening of social polarization and reversing the peace which has thus far been achieved.

An important leader defending community land rights against mining and dam concessions, Pedro had been missing since April 7. After 10 days of searching, they found his tortured and disfigured body.

Communities from this region also took action to present charges of genocide against Rios Montt. The commencement of the genocide trial coincided with the murder of Xinca leader Exaltacion Ramirez, who was killed after he attended a consultation against mining in Xinca communities. The number of killings like these have been mounting over the past year, and it is likely that most of these crimes are related to mines, biofuel plantations, and hydroelectric dams, as well as mega development projects in which former military and influential political figures hold significant interests.

On April 10, the Commander of U. Human rights defenders argue that a ruling of genocide will not provoke a return to political violence by the government, because the authorities already are complicit in political violence against the civilian population. Over the past two decades, there has been growing scrutiny of the clandestine networks within the military, the networks that have ensured military control of the government.

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Though there have been shifting alliances within and between political parties, business leaders, military factions, and organized crime networks, these dramas have all played out within the framework of the Theory of National Stability. Over a period of a decade, she succeeded in getting more than 50 Guatemalan officers, from generals at the Ministry of Defense to sergeants out in the field, not only to agree to interviews that directly addressed these issues but to speak with uncustomary candor about their actions, their beliefs and their relations with forces ranging from civilian Guatemalan politicians to the American military and intelligence establishment.

The central figure in Schirmer's treatment of what she rightly calls "the most powerful, least researched and least understood institution in Guatemala" is Gen.


Hector Gramajo Morales, whom she interviewed 14 times during a five year period. As Minister of Defense between and and Deputy Chief of Staff and self-proclaimed "granddaddy" of Guatemalan intelligence before that, Gramajo played a leading role in first supervising the formal transition to civilian rule and then fending off a coterie of high-ranking officers who were unwilling to cede even the appearance of power in order to retain its essence.

Loquacious but canny, Gramajo argues that in Guatemala, von Clausewitz's famous dictum works in reverse: "politics must be the continuation of war.

Guatemala Human Rights Commission

Or as Gramajo himself puts it, "my insurance is that my jefe knew everything. If there is something has been omitted or committed, it's not my responsibility, then, it's his. Schirmer also introduces us to such important yet little-known figures as Col. Manuel de Jesus Giron Tanchez, private secretary to the country's last two military heads of state.

A lawyer by training, Giron Tanchez worked behind the scenes as a "legal architect" to draft the statutes that embedded the military's supremacy in the current Guatemalan Constitution, thereby limiting the power of the four civilian presidents who have governed the country since , including the current head of state, Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen. I have covered Guatemala on and off since , but until reading Schirmer's chapter on "A Military View of Law and Security" had not properly appreciated the importance the Guatemalan military attached to putting a legal gloss on its depredations and creating a system in which "emphasis is on the law as sanction rather than a system of rules.