Dear Rochester Committee on Latin America,
I’m excited to share that we’ve released the latest edition of our publication El Quetzal! You can read it online here. We will be sending out paper copies soon, so let us know if you’d like a free subscription. Here’s preview of what you will find in this month’s issue:
“In Guatemala’s Ixil triangle, during the early morning hours, the smoke from countless cooking fires rises to meet the misty fog that rolls down from the mountains. The result is a swirling whiteness that swallows everything… all color, all shapes, all detail.
For over thirty years that mist has concealed a heartbreaking history of violence, suffering and loss. From March 1982 until August 1983, a military dictator named José Efrain Ríos Montt ruled Guatemala. In an effort to defeat a guerilla movement in the countryside, he unleashed a brutal counterinsurgency campaign. With the intent of cutting the guerillas off from any source of social support, he implemented a “scorched earth” policy, targeting the Mayan indigenous population. The result was bloodshed and suffering on an unimaginable scale: massacres, assassinations, torture, rape, burning of homes and crops, and the complete eradication of villages.”  Read more here.
“While the world watches the genocide trial in Guatemala, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders today are suffering persecution very similar to that perpetrated in the 1980s.
During the internal armed conflict, those who spoke out to defend their rights were systematically assassinated by the State. This violence was part of a government strategy that sought to maintain an economic system that benefited a small minority of elite families, leaving the indigenous majority in conditions of poverty. The State tried to justify its tactics by labeling these citizens as “internal enemies” who threatened Guatemala’s stability.
This violence and repression continues today. Activists who reject the govern-ment’s economic policies, and demand that their vision of development be respected, are again facing accusations of being internal enemies or terrorists. Some are victims of threats, assassination attempts, and extrajudicial executions, while others have been jailed under false criminal charges, becoming the nation’s first generation of political prisoners. ”  Read more here.
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