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Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA - page 7 / 8

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trafficking and organized crime. The rights groups, which also included the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC), added that at least twenty- six human rights defenders have been threatened or at- tacked, presumably by or at the instigation of the clan- destine groups, so far this year after a reported 122 at- tacks in 2004.

The record of US complicity with a succession of military governments is relatively complete due to the release of thousands of secret documents obtained by the independent National SecurityArchive (NSA), which helped Guatemala’s UN-backed Historical Clarification Commission conduct a major study in the late 1990s. The Guatemalan commission, set up under the 1996 U.N.- mediated peace accord, found the country’s military guilty of “acts of genocide” against the Indian population during the thirty-six-year civil war and of 93 percent of the esti- mated 200,000 killings which took place. It also found that Washington, particularly through its spy agencies, “lent direct and indirect support to some illegal state opera- tions.”

During the 1980s, overt US military aid totaled about $30 million. But the killing of anAmerican inn- keeper in 1990 and the subsequent cover-up forced the U.S. Government to cut off that aid, though millions more kept flowing secretly from the CIAto Guatemala’s mili- tary commanders until 1995. Since the mid-1990s, the US has provided a relative pittance, with only $350,000 approved for tightly controlled purposes, such as main- taining U.S.-Guatemala contacts in 2005. The Bush ad- ministration is proposing to ramp that up to $900,000 in 2006, in addition to the lifting of sanctions. The money is intended for a number of uses, including assisting in train- ing and the modernization of Guatemala’s armed forces.

Rumsfeld’s visit was a specific concern of GHRC and NISGUA in a meeting with the US Department of State (DOS) on March 24. Guatemala Desk Officer Courtney Turner and DOS Director of CentralAmerican Affairs, David Lindwall, were present. Other items dis- cussed included the US International Military Education and Training (IMET), the violence at the CAFTA pro- tests, the military’s role at Nueva Linda and Los Encuentros, a commission to investigate clandestine groups, the UN High Commissioners Of ice in Guatemala, and ultimately, US leverage points with Guatemala. The DOS representatives failed to answer why military aid was being resumed if military and police are connected to or- ganized crime. Lindwall expressed concern about the vio- lence at Nueva Linda and commented that the military should have no role in civilian affairs. He also said that human rights in Guatemala are a main concern of the DOS but that the situation has not gotten worse.

Morgue at Full Capacity 3/24/05 - The morgue of the Judicial Organism in zone 3 of Guatemala City is at full capacity due to the large num- ber of violent deaths. As of March 24, the morgue re- ceives an average of fifteen to eighteen cadavers a day. Eighty percent of the deaths were caused by firearms and the other deaths were caused by knives and other ob- jects. In this year alone, the morgue received 461 vic- tims of violence.

The number of bodies is so great that there is a scarcity of freezer space to that store cadavers, and there is a lack of doctors to perform autopsies. Some of the families of the victims are forced to wait to bring the bod- ies into the morgue because of the severe lack of resources there.

Defense Minister CarlosAldana announced that his department would use the U.S. military aid to repair helicopters and airplanes and purchase supplies including night-vision goggles, radios, and gas masks. However, Aldana mentioned different proposed uses for the money a few days later. According toAldana, the military should play an increased role in citizen security since recent re- ductions in the size of the police force. He suggested increasing the size of the military to 20,000 or 30,000 in order to combat youth gang violence and terrorism, among other problems. Aldana stated, “[Rumsfeld’s visit] was an initial verification of what we’re doing and where we’re headed…it gave accolades to the military forces.”

EMP Archives sent to US 3/31/05 - On March 31, 500 compact discs filled with iles from the now-dismantled Presidential High Command (EMP) were sent to the National SecurityArchive (NSA), a non-governmental US organization, for filing and index- ing. NSA will create a database that may help locate some of the detained and disappeared of the armed con- flict. The EMP, which was dismantled at the end of 2003, was notorious for violently repressive social activism. The NSA hopes to finish analyzing and organizing the infor- mation by the end of 2005.

Vol 17 No 7

UPDATE - page 7

April 1, 2005

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