Friday, 16 May 2008

Central America News

Two news stories which illustrate the persistence of the past in present-day Central America:

In Guatemala, a generalized state of fear remains despite democratization, with a sky-high murder rate and widespread belief in the involvement of state agencies.
“It is more or less the same.” She matter-of-factly added, “Nothing has changed. They wanted to exterminate us then; they want to exterminate us now.”


“These aren’t just gangs,” he whispered to me in the lobby of the stuffy, crowded government building. “This is strategic. This is social cleansing. It is the authorities.”
The Silent Violence of Peace in Guatemala (NACLA)

In El Salvador, exhumations continue to reveal mass graves of desaparecidos, victims of the country's civil war.
"They captured them and tortured them. They chopped them into pieces with an axe. A soldier told me that, and asked me not to say anything. That’s how I heard it happened," 70-year-old María Emma del Carmen Salmerón tells IPS.

For 27 years she has waited for the moment when she could recover the remains of her son José Noé. "I’m tired of waiting," she says.


Elí Hernández, an activist with the Madeleine Lagadec Human Rights Centre, says he has taken part in four exhumations so far this year, in different parts of the country.

Discovering the truth about what happened and the whereabouts of the remains of the desaparecidos is not an easy task because judicial authorities continue to look askance at the efforts made by the victims’ families to find out the fate of their loved ones, he says. [...] Clarifying past human rights abuses is difficult "because these things still touch, in one way or another, a power that is still latent," Hernández comments to IPS.
El Salvador: Exhuming Memory (IPS)

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