The Rio Negro Massacres in Guatemala (2000)
In the spring of 2000, Peter Lippman from The Advocacy Project visited the province of Alta Verapaz in Guatemala to profile the work of community advocates who had lost relatives in a series of brutal massacres in 1982 and 1983. The massacres were triggered by a decision of the Guatemalan government to build a major hydroelectric dam across the Rio Negro River, thus flooding a large area and effectively uprooting five local indigenous communities. Villagers from one of the five villages, also known as Rio Negro, refused to leave and were attacked by right-wing militia allied to the Guatemalan military. After being forcibly relocated, the massacre survivors formed the Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence in the Verapaces, Maya Achi (ADIVIMA) to campaign for justice and reparations. AP was asked to profile their campaign by Rights Action, which supports community activists in Guatemala. Peter’s dispatches were published as a series of On the Record, reproduced below.