Guatemala at War

A much awaited excursion was made with my teacher to the famously renown Mennonite Bakery. Spectacular!! I finally found a place to buy ‘Pan Integral’ (whole wheat bread and buns – a pure luxury and novelty here), soy milk (although a powder and sweetened) and american cheese. Most food that we take for granted as accessible in North America isn’t common (and impossible to find at times) here – like brown rice (asking people, especially in Spanish, gets me the oddest looks!

This afternoon we had a conference on the Armed Conflict in Guatemala which was the longest conflict in Latin America’s history. The war lasted a total of 36 years and was initiated in 1960 but had a long history prior to this time of violence and political turmoil & corruption. A rough estimate total of deaths throughout the span of the war was 200,000 known victims (+85,000 disappearances) of which 93.5% were government killings (including the army, civil patrols, police and death squads) and the remainder were that of guerrillas and unknown assailants. What started as a non-racial war by the government soon deeply entrenched the indigenous people of Guatemala and under the army rule, no one was safe … Priests, students, opposition politicians, academics, union leaders, agrarian reformers and even peasants became victims of the political violence carried out by the military-backed ‘death squads’, if they were deemed subversive to the state. On December 29, 1996 the Peace Accord ended the conflict but even today ‘a climate of fear persists and those that dare to challenge the elite, hidden powers and criminal gangs face intimidation and violence’.

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