Frontline World

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

Chapter 5: Resurrecting Memories of War
Canil Guitarristas; Spirits and falling flowers; Manuela crying

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 - Go The people of Santa María Tzejá are seeking justice for what happened during the war. In 2001, families of victims of the 1982 massacre -- including Edwin Canil's family -- brought charges of genocide against army generals at Playa Grande. It was a daring, precedent-setting move, but not without its consequences. Ten days after formal charges were brought forward, the village's cooperative building was burned to the ground. That day also happened to be the anniversary of the refugees' return from Mexico.

I wondered if Beatriz Manz's book, Paradise in Ashes, with all its painful testimonies and observations about the war, wouldn't be more divisive than healing for the people of Santa María Tzejá, who are struggling to get on with their lives. Manz said she'd asked a man in the village what he thought about that. After reading the book in English, he summed up his response, she said, with one word: "Parejo," which means "equal" or "fair." Another person returning from Saturday mass likened it to "the Bible" of Santa María Tzejá.

But Manz isn't the only foreigner helping to recover the historical memory of this community. An American Randall Shea has been working to rebuild the community since reunification in 1994 and helped stage this play for local children.

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