June 14th is the first anniversary of when Rabinal kicked out ex-president José Efraín Rios Montt as he campaigned for a new presidency.
The village was in the midst of a ceremonial inhumation of 70 victims who had been massacred during the war, and his presence was an insult. Now it will forever be known as the Day of Dignity.
One year ago this day, the community had rioted and thrown stones at the former president, hitting him in the head and forcing him to be evacuated by helicopter out of Rabinal. People appeared with coffins in memory of their massacred loved ones. Ríos Montt had been president during much of the civil war during which hundreds of thousands of victims had been massacred and/or disappeared. Yet there has never been a formal charge against him. He is now Secretary General of his party (FRG or Guatemalan Republican Front).
The celebration began in the displaced community of Pacux, where currently an exhumation is taking place at a clandestine grave. To date, they have recovered 52 bodies in a well that is estimated to go as far down as 30m, if not more. They have been digging for over a month and have found corpses of mainly men, all in atrocious positions with fractured or burned bones, wires or ropes around their necks, hands tied together, anything horrific one can imagine.
The lead forensic archaeologist has said that this is the most amount of people they have found in one well in all of Guatemala. And they have never found blood on corpses this far down. These are victims from different sets of massacres that occurred during the internal conflict of the country. The bodies must now be sent to forensic laboratories in Guate (capital) for further analysis.
The community gathered here and paid respect to their loved ones with rituals and incantations, with incense and flowers. We were all given flowers, beautifully colored ones. And we marched. We all marched together with large banners towards Rabinal, with music at the front and support from all sides. And we cried out verses that were given to us as inspiration.
The national media had come to cover this event, and we appeared on national news two days later. It was amazing to participate in such an event. There was also a formal turning over of the famous hat that Ríos Montt had worn that day and lost in all the commotion. Now it is safely housed in the Rabinal museum, in memory of this grand day.
Día de la Dignidad (Day of Dignity)
1. Hoy resonaron las voces, de los jamás escuchados (Today resound the voices of those never heard)
2. 14 de junio, día de la dignidad Rabinalense (June 14th, day of dignity of Rabinal)
3. Si a la paz con justicia social (Yes to peace with social justice)
4. Verdad, justicia y resarcimiento (Truth, justice and restitution)
5. No a la impunidad, si a la justicia y la paz (No to impunity, yes to justice and peace)
6. Si al resarcimiento, a las víctimas (Yes to restitution, to the victims)
Posted By Carmen Morcos (Guatemala)
Posted Jun 14th, 2004