San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Indigenous Guatemalan War Victims Demand Compensation from Government

GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of Maya Indians protested Monday in the capital to demand that the government pay the indemnities it established for victims of the 1960-96 civil war and their relatives.

The roughly 5,000 participants – as estimated by protest organizers – took advantage of the presence in Guatemala of officials of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which began its sessions here on Monday, to stage their protest.

Security forces did not allow the protestors to pass by the presidential residence, where commission officials met privately with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger. Carrying posters and photographs of their relatives who were “disappeared” or murdered during the war, the protesters shouted slogans against the government for paying compensation to the army-linked militia members of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols, and not them.

“What I’m asking for is for them to compensate me because they killed my father,” said protester Idalia Muñoz. Orlando Blanco, leader of the Social Organizations Coordinator, said the group is demanding that the government pay indemnities to the 8,000 victims who have already testified before the National Compensation Program, or PNR.

He said that the authorized indemnity amounts to about $3,157 for each person who was killed or disappeared. Blanco said that not a penny of the $39.47 million allotted to the PNR for distribution in 2006 has been disbursed yet.

The Historical Clarification Commission says that at least 200,000 deaths and disappearances resulted from Guatemala’s internal conflict.


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