Frontline World

GUATEMALA: Toward Justice, December 2004
a FRONTLINE/World Fellows project

Chapter 1:  A Mass for the Murdered
Inside a church; People holding up banners; Two women in the church

Chapter 1:  A Mass for the Murdered
Chapter 2:  To the Promised Land
Chapter 3:  War Finds Paradise
Chapter 4:  Rough Justice
Chapter 5:  Resurrecting Memories of War
Chapter 6:  An Apology for One
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Watch Video - GoI'd arranged to meet Beatriz Manz in front of Guatemala's national cathedral. We'd met once before at the University of California in Berkeley where she teaches Latin American Studies. Manz recently published a book called Paradise in Ashes, which chronicles the history of Santa María Tzejá, a small village that endured extraordinary hardships during Guatemala's civil war. It was a largely secret war, during which the U.S.-backed military pursed a "scorched earth" campaign to root out rebel insurgents in areas populated predominantly by Mayan Indians. Now, eight years after peace accords ended the 36-year conflict, Manz was going back. I wanted to film her return and see how the village is faring.

We would fly north to Santa María Tzejá tomorrow. But today, there was to be a special commemorative mass for her fellow anthropologist and human rights activist, Myrna Mack. Mack was stabbed to death in the streets of Guatemala City on September 11, 1990 after condemning the government for uprooting rural Mayan populations in counterinsurgency operations. Mack had been a close friend and colleague of Manz. Through the persistence of her sister, Helen Mack Chang, Myrna Mack became a symbol for the estimated 45,000 disappeared, tortured and murdered victims of Guatemala's bloody civil war.

I arrived at the cathedral shortly after sunrise. Banners and leaflets festooned the cathedral gates as busloads of Mayan men and women in brightly colored huipiles arrived from the provinces.

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