Friday, 4 December 2009

Guatemala: Documents on Military Killings

In an information breakthrough, military documents obtained by Washington's National Security Archive as part of legal proceedings in Spain reveal details of human rights abuses in Guatemala in the 1980s.
There are almost 200 pages of platoon reports, and they each repeat a similar story: A military patrol enters a Mayan village in the Guatemalan region of El Quiché in the summer of 1982. The soldiers arrest anybody who does not flee in time and “eliminate” anybody who tries to escape. Then they burn the houses, destroy the crops and kill the livestock.
The story is, indeed, familiar. Indigenous people are automatically assumed of collusion with the guerrillas and simply wiped out by the armed forces of their own nation. This particular report focuses on 'Operation Sofia' in the summer of 1982 and, as Kate Doyle of the NSA points out, military intelligence from this period is rare and, thus, highly significant.
“The point man indicated an individual who on seeing the patrol tried to flee, but he was eliminated,” one report states. “He was carrying only supplies (juice, rice and salt).”
Court Papers Detail Killings by Guatemala's Military (NY Times)

The full 359-page document is available for download here:
Operation Sofia: Documenting Genocide in Guatemala (National Security Archive)

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