Mayan Pride Lives as Patrols Harass, Displace, Destroy

By Wirpsa, Leslie | National Catholic Reporter, April 7, 1995 | Go to article overview

Mayan Pride Lives as Patrols Harass, Displace, Destroy


Wirpsa, Leslie, National Catholic Reporter


CHICHICASTENANGO, Guatemala -- The cranky Blue Bird school bus was stuffed far beyond its "maximum pupil capacity 65" limit as it edged through rounded highland mountains toward the Mayan market city of Chichicastenango.

An elderly Mayan woman, wearing a heavy woven huipil blouse with embroidered lines and characters that identified her village of origin, sat quietly under a black-lettered sign, an anachronism from the time when this vehicle wound through U.S. city streets with youngsters aboard, before it was sold to Guatemala. "Your children's safety is our business" the sign announced cheerfully -- not in Spanish, not in K'iche', but in English.

As the bus approached the Los Encuentros military checkpoint, the woman's thoughtful gaze became a bolt of fear. Her forehead tightened, inching back the thick black braid that rested, like a sculpture, along her spine.

"They are going to search them," she murmured, as soldiers ordered the men to descend from the school bus, identity documents in hand. There was an absence of chatter as camouflage-clad troops checked I.D. cards and slid their hands forcefully over the men's torsos and the inseams of their pants, one by one, looking, so it seemed, for weapons. People had good reason to fear them: More than 38,000 Guatemalans have been "disappeared" by the army since the CIA helped orchestrate a military coup in the country in 1954; at least 100,000 civilians have died as a result of repression and political violence; and in what has been referred to as genocide, at least 400 entire Mayan villages -- and almost all of the people in them -- were eliminated under the army's scorched-earth counterinsurgency campaigns.

In 1994, forced disappearances continued in Guatemala at a rate of nearly one every three days. Extrajudicial executions totaled 138 -- an "alarming rate," in the words of a February 1995 U.S. State Department report, and a marked increase from 1993.

Understandably, the passengers on that Blue Bird bus released sighs of relief when the soldiers, most of them young Mayans themselves, gestured toward the door, allowing everyone to reboard.

Despite daily news headlines heralding a languishing peace process between URNG -- Guatemala National Revolutionary Unity -- guerrillas and the government and stories announcing the arrival of U.N. teams to monitor human rights abuses, terror prevails in the Guatemalan countryside, especially at Los Encuentros.

Impunity the norm

It was not far from that military outpost that publisher and presidential candidate Jorge Carpio, brother to President Ramiro de Leon Carpio, was murdered in July 1993, along with three companions. A public announcement from the Guatemala City archbishop's human rights office that evidence exists that implicates military-organized civil patrols in the slayings failed to force the government to apprehend the ski-masked men who committed the crime or those who ordered them to do it.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch/Americas, in its June 1994 report, "Human Rights in Guatemala During President Leon de Carpio's First Year," stated that the Guatemalan army, which has repeatedly bungled the investigation of Carpio's killing, "may be trying to hide its own links to the crime."

Political observers ask: With that level of impunity shrouding the murder of such a high-profile figure, what kind of justice or protection can poor Mayan Indians expect?

Hardly any, said Luis Mario Martinez, a representative from the Archbishop of Guatemala (City's) Human Rights Office, an award-winning justice organization.

"Those who commit violations realize they are not held responsible for crimes. There is no political will from the government to end impunity. Officials make speeches, but there are no arrests," Martinez said.

Fr. Axel Mencos is the vicar general of the Santa Cruz del Quiche diocese, a region bloodied by the counterinsurgency and political violence that began after the 1954 CIA-led coup that ousted President Jacobo Arbenz and brought a military junta to power. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Mayan Pride Lives as Patrols Harass, Displace, Destroy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.