Guatemalan Femicide: The Legacy of Repression and Injustice

Guatemalan anti-mining activist Telma Yolanda Oqueli Veliz (Photo: James Rodríguez,

by Cyril Mychalejko

This article appeared at Toward Freedom.

One generally overlooked feature of the Guatemalan government and military’s 36-year (1960-96) genocidal counterinsurgency campaign against the country’s Mayan population is the strategy of targeting women with violence.

Rape, mutilation, sexual slavery, forced abortion, and sterilizations were just some of the sadistic tools used in a systematic practice of state-sponsored terror to crush the surviving population into submission through fear and shame via the suffering of their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

In 1999, UN-backed truth commission, the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH), declared that during the war, “the rape of women, during torture or before being murdered, was a common practice aimed at destroying one of the most intimate and vulnerable aspects of the individual’s dignity…[and] they were killed, tortured and raped, sometimes because of their ideals and political or social participation…”

Glen Kuecker, professor of Latin American History at DePauw University, said that the gender specific violence was and continues to be part of the government’s counterinsurgency program aimed to destroy the fundamental social fabric of Mayan communities.
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