Monday, May 10, 2010

Some justice ,finally, for Indigenous victims of Guatemalan genocide

Yesterday the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Justice Department announced that they had arrested Gilberto Jordán, a former member of an elite army unit known as kaibiles, for lying on his immigration forms about his participation in a 1982 massacre. Two more former officials had also settled in the U.S. and are being sought. A fourth man, Santos Lopez Alonzo, pled guilty to illegally entering the country; he was fined $10 and is due to be deported.
The massacre, in a remote northern village known as the Dos Erres, was part of a campaign by the army against perceived opposition to military rule. While most of the victims of the military campaigns were Mayan, Dos Erres was a mixed settlement of recent immigrants to the zone. They had left insufficient land plots in the highlands to move to a settlement on the agricultural frontier, but in December 1982 they were targeted as potential guerrilla sympathizers. The army surrounded the town, rounded up the townspeople and divided them into groups of men and women. As Gilberto Jordán admitted to the authorities, he started the killing by throwing a baby down the town well, still alive. Next the women were raped, killed and thrown down the well, followed by the men. In all, there were 251 villagers killed. more details here

Jordán had been living in the U.S. since 1999, and had become a naturalized citizen without mentioning his participation in the massacre in his application. The other two suspects are Jorge Vinicio Sosa-Orantes of Riverside, California, and Pedro Pimentel-Rios of Santa Ana, California. Sosa-Orantes was a lieutenant at the time. In the U.S. he worked as a martial arts instructor. Pimentel-Rios, accused by witnesses of raping young girls before killing them, moved to the U.S. after a career that included a stint at the U.S. School of the Americas. More on the defendants can be found here.


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