perpetrated by members of right-wing death squads and by the government security forces themselves. Reports by such human rights organizations as the Americas Watch Committee and the British Parliamentary Human Rights Commission cite numerous examples of such evidence gathered in the course of their investigations. In some cases, the abductors are actually known. In others, they carry sophisticated weaponry possessed only by the military or wear boots or other equipment issued to soldiers. On occasion, the abductors identify themselves. In one remarkable case, a union worker was abducted and taken to a secluded house, where he was hung by his feet and tortured for two days before he was able to escape. He later testified that his abductors had identified themselves as Kaibiles, or members of an elite Guatemalan military corps. There were a number of other persons being tortured in the house at the same time. To date, the killings and kidnappings continue at an alarming and usually under-reported rate. The university staff and student body, religious leaders, union and cooperative workers, and the Indians of the altiplano are the most frequent victims. As a result of the repression, most of the voices of dissent and criticism in Guatemala have been silenced. Unlike El Salvador, there are no internal human rights organizations. The Guatemala Human Rights Commission operates out of Mexico City. Nor does the International Red Cross operate within Guatemala. \(There is a Guatemathe Mutual Support Group stand virtu ally alone in their efforts to obtain the release of their loved ones. In stark contrast, the heavily armed military forces strode through the streets of the capital on Army Day, June 30, their faces streaked with soot and with fierce dogs accompanying one attachment, Disturbed by the government’s faint reply to their many efforts, the group placed a notice in the local newspapers on June 30, 1985, requesting that a more complete response be made by the government within fifteen days. After receiving no government reply, the members of the group began meeting on Friday afternoons in front of a church, then walking around the corner to the Palacio Nacional, where they stand for an hour. On at least one occasion, they held a large sign bearing the names of hundreds of disappeared persons. Despite the danger this vigil poses to the lives of the group’s members, they want it known that their loved ones will not be forgotten. , Their feelings are perhaps best reflected in the words of a small newspaper notice published by Nineth Montenegro de Garcia, one of the surviving leaders of the group. Nineth, a small, intense woman of remarkable strength, lost her husband Fernando Garcia over a year ago. She was also a close friend of the murdered Rosario Godoy de Cuevas. Her words, to her missing husband, as published, are: “Fernando my love, today it has been one year and five months since your abduction and I have struggled without rest to rescue you from the hands of the killers who are holding you. I know that the suffering you have endured has been great and inhuman. More than once I have thought that there was nothing more that I could do to save you. But when I am tired I come home to take refuge in our little girl Alejandrita, look into her eyes and see you. I see the same turn to her hair as you have. Then I hold her close and understand her sad look. She wants the home that was snatched away from us all. And so, .. . I come to the conclusion that I have a moral debt to both her and to you. I will fight, yes, I will fight with everything I have left until the moment when I can say ‘My child, we have a home again. Here is your father.’ “I make myself strong by looking at your picture, your clothes, and even by seeing the profound pain reflected in the looks of the other members of the Grupo de Apoyo. It is necessary that the hope, and our stolen happiness, be reborn in our hearts. “In these moments we are a family filled with pain, a suffering so great that I sometimes feel that my chest will burst. So listen well my love. I will never abandon you. The day will come that we both desire so much. I promise you. “I have many letters to you and I hope that some day we can read them together, and remember that last night, when, between laughs, jokes, and happiness we greeted life and blessed it for having put us together. Yes, my love, our feelings run so deep that nothing can take that from us. With hopes for a better future for us both. Your Wife, Nineth Montenegro de Garcia.” BOOKS AND THE CULTURE “Ajoblanco’s last reflections” is a fragment of a long novel by Guatemalan novelist Arturo Arias entitled JAGUAR EN Arias is a novelist and essayist living in exile in Mexico whose works have won “Ajoblanco’s Last Reflections” was translated by Tani Adams, who lives in Austin. Casa de las Americas awards. He is best known in this country as co-author of the screenplay for the film El Norte. The novel excerpted here is a history in the form of parody of Guatemala from its Spanish conquest in 1524 to the present. The four main characters are Ajoblanco and his first cousin, Amabilis, both Sephardic Jews, Trotaprisiones, a Moorish woman with whom Ajoblanco has fallen in love, and their gypsy companion Cide H. Montrosat. This “gang of four,” as they are dubbed by Inquisitorial authorities, has been forced to leave Spain in the 16th century by the Inquisition and has turned to the New World for refuge. But, alas, the Spanish standard-bearers preceding them arrived at paradise and started decimating their Indian benefactors. As a result, the gang of four joins the ranks of the Indians in their liberation struggle against Castilian oppression. They will spend their next 450 years fighting the Castilian and Yankee expansionism and discovering a great deal about themselves, the meaning of the struggle for liberation, and the peculiar twists of the history of their adopted country. At some point in their middle age, all three men will write either a diary or a memoir while, in the capital city of Ajoblanco’s Last Reflections By Arturo Arias 16 OCTOBER 25, 1985
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