Guatemala Celebrates End of Civil War

Article excerpt

The Flame of Peace in Guatemala City's main square flickered out briefly early Monday, within hours of its lighting to mark the treaty-signing ceremony that ended Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war.

But workers connected it to a gas main, and it burned brightly later Monday. Schools and government offices across the country closed to celebrate the peace.

"The peace signing is a good step," said Danilo Gonzalez, a house painter in Guatemala City, who added that he had many doubts. "I hope it lasts and the guerrillas abide by their commitment." Guatemala's first challenge after the treaty-signing between rebel and government leaders is to disband an estimated 3,000 leftist rebels still hiding in the countryside. The government's 43,500-man army also must be cut by a third. Thousands of refugees still must be resettled, economic and agrarian reforms implemented and billions of dollars in international aid and investment attracted. Sunday's signing also triggered previous agreements to protect human rights, to establish a truth commission to investigate war crimes, to recognize Indian rights and to reform election laws. …