Survivors of the thirty-six-year internal armed conflict have asked the Guatemalan government to comply with the peace accords signed in 1996 and approve a budget for reparations. Presenting a report evaluating the impact of the accords, survivors of the armed conflict requested “profound reforms” to combat poverty, racism, and discrimination.
The conflict claimed 250,000 victims, including those dead and disappeared, and left more than a million people internally displaced. The survivors asked Congress to create the National Commission on Forced Disappeareances aimed at searching for the victims, as well as to approve a budget of 50 million quetzals for reparations.
“We believe in peace and that the authorities must have the political will to solve the structural problems that led to the war,” Miguel Quiej, who represents survivors, told EFE.
Quiej was one of the paricipants in the presentation to the three branches of government of the report on the impact of the accords. The peace accords were signed by the government and the guerrilla forces twenty years ago.
Here are those of us who suffered bombings and machine gun strafings and the contempt of the state, to demand that the commitments acquired in the peace accords be taken up again and fulfilled.”
In the opinion of Feliciana Macaria, another representative of the survivors, the government “has not shown sufficient will to comply with the commitments and protect the rights of the victims.” The report, titled “The Impact of the Peace Accords on the Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict 1996-2016,” was presented on the Patio of Peace.
The analysis states that the government has not complied with guaranteeing the victims’ rights to truth, justice, and just reparations, nor has it searched for the more than 45,000 disappeared, among them 1,000 children.
“It is lamentable that the government continues not to recognize the veracity of the Historical Clarification Commission’s report, which determined that acts of genocide were committed against the indigenous peoples, indiscriminately killing children, women, and campesinos,” the report states. In the report, the three organizations representing victims find that on balance, compliance with the peace accords has been “negative.” The groups add that refusing to look for the disappeared and put into practice and exhumation and burial policy “only serves to protect those responsible for the violations and prolongs the anguish of the families.” Indigenous peoples and women have confronted numerous obstacles to justice and many communities do not even have Public Ministry and Judiciary offices, the report explains.
The groups emphasize that the recognize the valiant work of the prosecutors and judges who have issued nineteen sentences against those responsible for serious violations committed during the conflict, but add that these are “small efforts in light of the magnitude of the violations.”
The survivors also assert that they have not received reparations. In thirteen years, only 16,000 applications have been processed and the support received has been only a small economic compensation.
“The victims and survivors continue living in conditions of extreme poverty and marginalization” because the government has not implemented policies to reduce inequality,” they point out. They note that all the governments following the signing of the accords have relegated the peace agenda to the back burner and have prioritized their political plans.
The groups ask the executive branch to strengthen the capacities of the police and to limit the army’s work to guarding the borders, as well as to implement policies to eliminate racism and discrimination.
They urge the judicial branch to investigate, prosecute, and punish the intellectual and material authors of the grave human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.