Una larga historia de Escuadrones de la Muerte en Guatemala

No hace mucho tiempo en Guatemala se vivía con temor a salir a la calle y nunca regresar. Las desapariciones eran realizadas con las venia del Gobierno para eliminar a sus opositores y regresar a esas épocas es algo que debemos impedir. La primera acción a hacer para no cometer los mismos errores del pasado es recordar.

El ejército guatemalteco mantuvo registros detallados de las operaciones de su escuadrón de la muerte (ver links más adelante), según ha sido documentado por grupos de derechos humanos e informes de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia de Estados Unidos. Entre los registros que ahora tenemos, revelan el destino que dio el ejército a decenas de ciudadanos guatemaltecos que fueron “desaparecidos” por las fuerzas de seguridad a mediados de los años ochenta. En las bibliotecas digitales tenemos ya los reportes de fotografías y cientos de víctimas y referencias codificadas de la manera en que fueron realizadas sus ejecuciones sumarias. La fuente central de la información llega a nosotros de un documento de 54 páginas que fue sacado de contrabando de los archivos de inteligencia del ejército guatemalteco y entregado a los defensores de los derechos humanos en los años 90s, solo dos días antes de que una comisión de la verdad patrocinada por la ONU publicara su informe sobre la sangrienta Guerra Civil de 36 años del país.

El libro de registro cubre la actividad de los escuadrones de la muerte de las unidades de inteligencia guatemaltecas durante un período de 18 meses entre agosto de 1983 y marzo de 1985. Un extracto de dos páginas aparece en la edición de junio de 1999 de Harper’s Magazine. Según explicaban en una nota de prensa de la época y en el mismo artículo explicaban que,

“Este escalofriante documento es el equivalente del escuadrón de la muerte de un informe anual de productividad, una cuenta del interior de los archivos secretos de la máquina de matar de Guatemala”, dijo Kate Doyle, analista de la política de Estados Unidos en América Latina y directora del Proyecto de Guatemala en Seguridad Nacional.  “Es absolutamente único: un raro atisbo de asesinato político organizado desde la perspectiva de los perpetradores que lo cometieron”.

A lo largo de la guerra, el ejército guatemalteco utilizó el secuestro, la tortura y el asesinato en su campaña de contrainsurgencia contra la izquierda guatemalteca. Para cuando el gobierno y las guerrillas firmaron el Acuerdo de Paz en 1996, unas 200,000 personas habían muerto y más de 40,000 “desaparecidos” que probablemente fueron asesinados y lanzados a fosas o incinerados; de este número de muertos y desaparecidos, al menos un 93% estuvo en manos de las fuerzas de seguridad guatemaltecas tanto oficiales como extraoficiales, según explica el libro publicado por el difunto Monseñor Gerardi “Guatemala: Memoria del silencio”, del Informe de la Comisión de Esclarecimiento Histórico.

Exhumación en San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala

Luego de la publicación de estos informes se solicitó en los años 90s que el gobierno de Guatemala investigase los delitos detallados en el documento, e identificara y enjuiciara a los responsables. También pidieron al entonces Presidente Álvaro Arzú que tomara medidas inmediatas para proteger los archivos de los servicios militares y de inteligencia para evitar la destrucción de otras pruebas críticas que pudiesen existir sobre los delitos contra los derechos humanos. Ambas acciones nunca fueron realizadas y muchos desaparecidos en los años 80s siguen sin Justicia.

Hoy, los guatemaltecos estamos enfrentando acusaciones de un escuadrón de la muerte organizado desde el gobierno 20 años después de los escuadrones del ejército durante el conflicto armado. Los contextos son distintos pero los resultados son los mismos: violación de los derechos humanos de los guatemaltecos por personas con el apoyo del Gobierno de turno. 

No debemos subestimar la frustración en Latinoamérica con la creciente Corrupción y no debemos subestimar la tolerancia actual a las soluciones tiránicas de gobiernos de “mano  dura” que prometen soluciones enérgicas para problemas intratables. Aprendamos de los errores de nuestra historia que estas acciones solamente sirven para destruir nuestro tejido social y violar los derechos humanos de todos nosotros.

Los gobiernos autoritarios nos han ofrecido intercambiar nuestras libertades individuales y el Estado de Derecho por una mayor seguridad personal y social. La verdad es que esto ha sido un gran engaño y nos han dañado por generaciones. Cuando un gobierno declara que es aceptable matar a sus ciudadanos sin el debido proceso o, en realidad, cualquier proceso, la indignación debió y debería de ser inmediata y clara; sin embargo, en Guatemala por muchas ocasiones nos hemos quedado mudos. La historia de Guatemala ha estado plagada por la violencia política y con el tiempo se ha transformado en violencia de clase. A pesar de la mayoría de los gobiernos formalmente democráticos, el “legado del autoritarismo” persiste y la presencia de “actores armados” prevalece como resultado de una larga historia de violencia. La violencia experimentada en nuestro país ha provocado una erosión del capital social y nos ha sumido en desconfianza social, falta de unidad y miedo. Aún estamos a tiempo de cambiar de rumbo.

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February 26: The day the Communist Manifesto was published

These are some of the most used words in The Communist Manifesto
“WordCloud” of some of the most used terms in The Communist Manifesto

26 February, 1848: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, a political theory that has become one of the modern world’s most influential documents and a source of inspiration for most of our political leaders.

The Communist Manifesto changed the face of the twentieth century beyond recognition, inspiring millions to revolution became an ideological source for millions of deaths (at least 94 million people according to Werth et al. Margolin‘s The Black Book of Communism).  This book has become the basis of political systems that dominate countless lives and continues to ignite violent debate about class and mixed systems of economic and political government today.

If you have never read this book (as most of its advocates have surely not done so) I encourage you to read it and study it attentively.

communist manifesto karl marx book cover

In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating between proletariat and bourgeoisie, and ever renewing itself as a supplementary part of bourgeois society. The individual members of this class, however, are being constantly hurled down into the proletariat by the action of competition, and, as modern industry develops, they even see the moment approaching when they will completely disappear as an independent section of modern society, to be replaced …” Manifesto

Table of Online Contents for the Communist Manifesto:

Preamble
I:   Bourgeois and Proletarians
II: Proletarians and Communists
III: Socialist and Communist Literature
IV: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

Other Free Versions for Download: AudioWordepubprcPDF, Kindle.

The Economic Impact of a War Between Japan & China

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“The United States believes that the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic will contribute to the welfare of the American people, to the stability of Asia where the United States has major security and economic interest, and to the peace of the entire world.”

President Jimmy Carter
The American Presidency Project. December 15, 1978

 

Unfortunately, this is not a conspiracy theory.  2013 is a decisive year to deter the escalation of a war between Japan & the People’s Republic of China.  Who can stop it? According to this impressive video, the United States of America has a decisive role to play in this global arena.

A major conflict between the region’s two largest economies would not only impose a harsh dilemma on U.S. diplomats, but also have a significant impact on the entire global economy. It is in every nation’s best interest that the Chinese and Japanese settle their territorial dispute peacefully.

The team at One Minute MBA explains that

“The conflict between China and Japan has put the United States in a precarious position: if a full-scale war were to erupt, the U.S. would be forced to choose between a long-time ally (Japan) and its largest economic lender (China). Last year, China’s holdings in U.S. securities reached $1.73 trillion and goods exported from the U.S. to China exceeded $100 billion. The two countries also share strong economic ties due to the large number of American companies that outsource jobs to China.

However, the U.S. government may be legally obligated to defend Japan. In November, the U.S. Senate added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that officially recognizes Japan’s claims to the disputed islands; the U.S. and Japan are also committed to a mutual defense treaty that requires either country to step in and defend the other when international disputes occur. Not honoring this treaty could very easily tarnish America’s diplomatic image.

The countries of the Asia-Pacific region are collectively responsible for 55 percent of the global GDP and 44 percent of the world’s trade. A major conflict between the region’s two largest economies would not only impose a harsh dilemma on U.S. diplomats, but also have a significant impact on the entire global economy. It is in every nation’s best interest that the Chinese and Japanese settle their territorial dispute peacefully.”

To read the entire video transcript please visit this link.

February 20 1524. The Commemoration of the death and defeat of a Mayan Prince in a Critical Juncture of Globalization

Title: The Clash.<br /><br />By: Alfredo Gálvez Suárez.<br /><br />A depiction of the battle of 1524 in which the Spanish conquistadores defeated the Army leaded by Tecum Umam.
Title: The Clash.
By: Alfredo Gálvez Suárez.
A depiction of the battle of 1524 in which the Spanish conquistadores defeated the Army leaded by Tecum Umam.

The term Globalization refers to what many different historians considered a process of interrelation (or unification) of the world. It was a process of cultural, political and economic relations that for the first time in history united all mankind.  One of these critical events of unification and clash of cultural and political relations took place in  February 20 1524.  This day is commemorated by Guatemalans to remember the leaders and events of the “The battle of Llanos del Pinal  ((The Society of Geography and History of Guatemala documented that this battle actually took place on February 12 1524) which took place in the vicinity of the K’iche’ Mayan city of  Xelajú (located in today’s mountainous area of Guatemala in Central America).

tecun-uman

In this battle, the K’iche’ Rajpop Achij Tecum Umam (Guatemala’s National Hero and K’iche’ Mayan Captain of the army) commanded an army of 72,000 warriors (as narrated by the Chronicler Francisco de Fuentes y Guzmán) that fought against the invading hordes of the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his indigenous allies from the territories that are today the South of Mexico. While the invaders defeated the K’iche’ army, the chroniclers of this battle remembered Tecum Umam as the glorious warrior and miraculous hero that started to be referred in the narrations with epic roles and anthropomorphic abilities.

After this battle that “tainted all the neighbouring rivers red of blood” the Spanish conquistadores continued their invasion in the following month of the city of Q’umarkaj (also known as Utatlán). This secured for them the hegemony over the other less powerful cities of IximcheMixco Viejo, and Zaculeu that were located in the Southernmost part of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The aftermath of this battle concluded six years later with the Quauhquechollan alliance of the conquistador Jorge de Alvarado (brother of Pedro de Alvarado) and their Nahuatl allies from the city of Quauhquechollan that gave the Spanish and absolute control of large part of Mesoamerica.

By the beginning of the Spanish conquest the territory of Mesoamerica the Mayan Civilisation was already extinguished and dozens of different indigenous tribes leaded by  caciques, warriors and priests controlled weaker and less advanced forced-labor societies.  This enabled the conquest of the territories to be fast and easy.

Just a decade later, by the 1540s, the new elite that ruled this forced-labor societies had already established itself with a mixed Spanish-Indigenous head in control and started the process of acculturation, integration, evangelisation, assimilation and reeducation of a society that went from a tribalist type of life into a mercantilist economy ruled from a metropolitan and global Empire with its head 5,400 miles away in the city of Madrid.

Since 1524, Mesoamerica joined the global community of trade, commerce, acculturation and universalisation of traditions and costumes.  This is an important junction that should be remembered by all of us.

Today January 27 is International Holocaust Memorial Day

Let us never forget,

“Selektion” on the Judenrampe, Auschwitz, May/June 1944. To be sent to the right meant slave labor; to the left, the gas chamber. This image shows the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, many of them from the Berehov ghetto. The photographer was Ernst Hofmann or Bernhard Walter of the SS. Image by Yad Vashem.

Holocaust Memorial Day Documentary

Tribute to holocaust victims – We shall never forget!

Two historical references for a discussion on the right to keep and bear arms

Battle  of Courcelette
Battle of Courcelette
Like the observer in the tree in the right foreground, painter Louis Weirter witnessed this Somme battle as a soldier. His painting depicts the chaos and complexity of fighting on the Western Front, and the use of combined arms tactics. The capture of the ruined town of Courcelette, France on 15 September 1916 was a significant Canadian victory. It was also the first time tanks (left foreground) were used in battle.
Painted by Louis Alexander Weirter
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art

One of the most controversial discussions in the last few weeks has been the one around guns, its regulation and controls, its production, on the rights to use guns, on private gun ownership and the arguments of those in favor/against the Right to keep and bear arms in the United States of America.  The right to keep and bear arms in that country has a historical significance rooted in a long standing common law, prior even to the existence of their Constitution.  In England, a similar legal wording can be found in the Bill of Rights 1689 which states “Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defense”.

The historical significance of this argument is long standing and varies from country to country (specially those with a common law system).  The principle behind this topic is the relation of the private ownership (historically contextualized of course) of the “means of force” versus the monopoly of the use of force by government.  Today I have two recommendations on this topic for those of you looking for essays and books to read:

tilly-diagram

The monopoly of the use of force is claimed to be the reason behind why some kings in Europe succeed in wining wars and enriching their countries; and also the reason why others were subjugated and conquered (see the work of War Making and State Making as Organized Crime by Charles Tilly for a complete picture on this topic (online pdf) a Chapter from Bringing the State Back In (1985), edited by Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol).  But also, in a longer historical perspective it has been the monopoly of the use of force by specific authorities which for other authors built/destroyed entire civilizations (see the work of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History (2002) by Philip Bobbitt).

Have a happy reading!