RealNews

Pain of Past Resurfaces in Guatemala

Jose Lorenzo Nicho can still picture the soldiers tying 14 men to fence posts at dawn. Before they drew their rifles and executed them, they tortured the suspected guerrillas all night. Nicho, 56, said he remembers hearing their screams, including the cries of his two brothers that echoed around this mountaintop village and still haunt survivors 21 years later. That massacre, on Oct. 14, 1982, was one of hundreds committed during this country’s 36-year civil war, in which more than 200,000 people were killed by military or paramilitary forces. The majority of the victims were poor Mayan Indians killed in the government’s often indiscriminate “scorched earth” anti-insurgency campaign in rural communities like this one. Efrain Rios Montt, the former army general who was dictator for 16 months in 1982-83 at the height of the violence, is now running for president, reopening national wounds seven years after U.N.-brokered peace accords ended the war. Full Story

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