On January 24, five former Civil Defense Patrollers on trial for sexual violence and crimes against humanity against 36 Maya Achi women were found guilty. Gabriel Cuxum Alvarado, Bernardo Ruiz Aquino, Benvenuto Ruiz Aquino, Damián Cuxum Alvarado, Francisco Cuxum Alvarado will face 30 years in prison for crimes against humanity in the form of sexual violence. Judge Yassmin Barrios, who delivered the ruling, stated, “We, the judges, find the conditions to which the women were subjected to be totally degrading.”
Over the course of the trial, the prosecution proved that the state employed a systematic strategy of sexual violence against Achi women from 1982 through 1985 as part of a counter-insurgency campaign during the internal armed conflict. In addition to expert witnesses, the brave survivors gave their testimonies of the horrific violence they endured at the hands of the military and the former civil patrollers.
GHRC applauds this historic ruling and stands in solidarity with the survivors, their Rabinal legal team, and the support organizations, who have worked tirelessly on the long road to justice. In the face of discrimination, racism, threats, and intimidation, these women and their legal team fought tirelessly to bring their truth to light.
This sentence is a fundamental victory, not only for these 36 brave women, but for all survivors of state violence. Justice is the only way to ensure that these heinous crimes are never repeated.
We congratulate the Maya Achi women for having triumphed over the widespread impunity in Guatemala. Their courage is a light for all.
Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
January 25, 2022