UPDATE JUNE 2008: After many years of trials, delays, and obstruction five civil patrollers (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil) have been found guilty in the Rio Negro massacres by a Guatemalan court. Jesus Tecu Osorio, a survivor of the massacre, and the producer of this video with WITNESS was the first to testify in the trial. Rio Negro was but one of the massacres which characterized the height of the genocidal campaign against the indigenous Maya during the 36-year Guatemalan civil war. While the verdicts and sentences are a welcome outcome after so many years, it’s important to recognize that none of the intellectual authors of the genocide, or their international enablers, have yet to be brought to justice, nor have victims and survivors seen reparation.
A RIGHT TO JUSTICE, shot by Guatemalan human rights advocate, Jesus Tecú Osorio, expands on the earlier Rights Alert "A Massacre Remembered". Following the struggle of the indigenous Maya Achi people of Guatemala to have the truth of the genocide there in the early 1980's revealed, it includes footage of the recent trial of a few of the perpetrators. Detailing recent efforts to document the atrocities, and to secure justice through the prosecution of the masterminds of the massacres, it also includes sequences illustrating the impunity with which some perpetrators still act. [RT 9:30]
On March 13, 1982, 177 women and children from the village of Río Negro, Rabinal were tortured, raped, and massacred by the Guatemalan army and army-led civil patrol groups. The terror suffered by the Mayan inhabitants of this village was not isolated. Río Negro was one of the 440 villages that were razed and destroyed during the Guatemalan government's counter-insurgency campaign. Jesus Tecú Osorio, the WITNESS partner who shot the footage in A Right to Justice, survived and witnessed, along with 17 other children, the massacre of his family and fellow villagers when he was 11 years old. All of the 18 children who survived were enslaved as servants in the houses of the patrolmen that had murdered their families and friends.
Jesus Tecú's story is one of unimaginable pain and injustice, as is the story of the countless victims and survivors that lost a relative from amongst the 5,000 Mayans in the Rabinal area alone who were massacred in the 1981-1982 campaign of terror. The governments of Rios Montt and Lucas García supervised and directed the army's genocidal campaigns. The Guatemalan army not only perpetrated the massacres, it also forced civil patrolmen to enlist and slaughter their fellow villagers. Yet Rios Montt, Lucas García, and all other high-ranking officials that participated in the campaign have enjoyed total impunity and still hold high government posts.
The village of Río Negro, and the area of Rabinal in general, was specifically targeted in the military's counterinsurgency campaign because it was located in the future Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam basin and the inhabitants of Río Negro refused to leave their ancestral lands. The World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) were responsible for the supervision of the compensation and resettlement programs which were never complied with; instead, the WB and the IADB continually financed a project that was not only costing hundreds of millions of dollars, but thousands of lives, directly and indirectly.
RT: 9:30 min.
Copyright Date: 2001