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…”
Guatemala, El Salvador, and the United States all stake different positions concerning the Latin American massacres.
by John Washington
On this past 14th of January an ex-general of the Guatemalan Army, Otto Pérez Molina, took office as the right-wing, self-proclaimed strong-arm (mano dura) President of Guatemala, promising to get tough on organized crime and drug-trafficking. The new President’s message, however, comes with baggage: Guatemalan Army’s recent and sordid history. The 36-year Civil War in the country, in which the Army committed systematic and ethnically-targeted massacres and razing, ended only fifteen years ago, in 1996. But the distaste in some for the new President comes not only from implication by association, that is, that he was simply part of an organization responsible for atrocities. Pérez himself has been openly and repeatedly accused of direct involvement in tortures and massacres. It has also been repeatedly claimed that Pérez Molina was on the CIA payroll and, according to the website, SOA Watch, that he was a graduate of the infamous School of Americas. Though Pérez claims to support “a military deactivation” in the country, how can Guatemalan citizens, especially those who suffered 36-plus years of abuse at the hands of the military, trust an ex-general who also proclaims to be willing to “use all the necessary military force” to ensure internal security? The message that Pérez sends is contradictory and, despite his dubious proclamation of “military deactivation,” undeniably militant, threatening to Calderón (President of Mexico whose drug-war crackdown has driven the country to the precipice of what some are calling a failed state) an already torn social fabric.