The first major step toward peace came in 1994, when the Guatemalan government and the guerrillas agreed to re-settle populations uprooted by the war. After more than a decade in exile, hundreds of thousands of refugees returned from Mexico and elsewhere to their homes in Guatemala. But the homecoming was also traumatic because it brought together families and neighbors who had been on opposite sides of the war.
The challenge of reuniting communities would prove the true test of peace. Would people divided by war be able to overcome the past? Could they re-establish the trust they once had in each other?
One afternoon in Santa María Tzejá, the co-op's loudspeaker
announced a village meeting the next morning at 5:30. Two nights
before, a band of cattle thieves had entered the village and
were chased off empty-handed into the mountains. But they'd
left behind their trucks. I arrived bleary-eyed at the early
morning meeting to find a circle of men, including the Reyes
brothers, discussing community protection and the problem of
what to do with the abandoned trucks.