Frontline World


Guatemala: Toward Justice, December 2004



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Klaas Epp - Wichita, Kansas
Thank you for this story. It needs to get out. Furthermore, what needs to be proclaimed and condemned with great energy is the support the Reagan administration played in promoting Rios Montt as well as the influential leaders of the "Moral Majority" and other American so-called Christians (especially, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggert, and Luis Palau); some to this day claim Montt was set up by a covert communist plot in his government (after all an "evangelical" Christian would not order genocide). A good read on this, Is Latin America Turning Protestant? The Politics of Evangelical Growth, by David Stoll (University of California Press).

Andrea Leger - Cocagne, New Brunswick
On July 25th 1981, my brother Raoul Leger, a Canadian lay missionary, was assassinated by the Guatemalan Army. The courageous Mayans that participated in your documentary, Guatemala: Toward Justice, reminded me of how important it is that we, the survivors, become their voices for justice to be found.

How truly sad that greed can surpass the value of a human life....

Avexnim Cojti - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
I thank you for putting together this documentary on the history of the oppression of Santa Maria Tzeja. The international community needs to be aware that the conflict in Guatemala is not over by signing an agreement. Justice is not truth to Maya people. Rather, the continuation of injustices such as expropriation of land and resources, racism, and violence, are the norm.

Oscar Berger offered an apology for the murder of Myrna Mack. But would he or any other president apologize to thousands of Maya individually? Most likely not. Would the government compensate for lost land, lost opportunity, to orphans and widows? Most likely not. I imagine they will offer a general apology and expect peace, then praise themselves for being the most democratic government in power. They think the people who died were villagers, without education, without resources and therefore, not considered first class citizens, as was the case with Myrna Mack.

Lastly, I support Rigoberta Menchu in her efforts to put Rios Montt and other military and ex-military in jail. It has been a long journey and lawyers and other academics that have supported justice have been killed or at least threatened.

In response to the question: How can a nation recover from decades of civil war? Would a truth and reconciliation commission work in Guatemala?

Luis Maldonado - New Mexico
I do think reconciliation is possible, and feel it's already underway. However, President Oscar Berger is not the human rights justice leader you make him out to be in these videos. Far from it. These apologies are but ceremonial steps toward a process -- as the man states in the chapter Rough Justice -- for which the current justice system is inadequate to handle. Guatemala's courts are terribly corrupt.

Perhaps, a truth and reconciliation panel is what's needed.

Thank you for providing this window into our not-so-distant neighbor to the South.