Former paramilitary fighters released the mayor of this small town late Tuesday, a day after they took him hostage to demand payment for fighting alongside the army in the country’s 36-year civil war. The ex-paramilitaries seized city hall and Mayor Juan Coche on Monday to demand that they be paid for serving during brutal anti-insurgency campaigns against largely Maya guerrillas. The U.N. Mission to Guatemala estimates that as many as 630,000 paramilitaries helped the government fight the guerrillas during the war, which killed 200,000 Guatemalans. Only 250,000 people are listed in government files as having worked with the army. President Alfonso Portillo had agreed to pay the former civilian fighters $660 each in three installments. Former paramilitary fighters in this town 80 mile southwest of Guatemala City say they were not included on the list. Full Story
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