This chapter makes five arguments regarding the need to confront genocide and other crimes against humanity in Guatemala: first, genocide was perpetrated by the state of Guatemala during the internal armed conflict; second, the state has failed to comply with its commitments according to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, by failing to further investigate acts of genocide or bring to justice those people responsible; third, the judicial system has also failed in Guatemala with regard to human rights violations and crimes against humanity; fourth, the international community has not been able or willing to confront impunity for crimes against humanity in Guatemala; and five, the only way of bringing justice to Guatemala regarding the crime of genocide is through the establishment of a special international tribunal. Several historians claim that Latin American indigenous peoples, among them the Maya descendants in Guatemala, suffered genocide at the hands of Portuguese and Spanish conquistadores. An analysis of measures taken by criollos against indigenous peoples during Guatemala’s reform of 1871 could also lead to the conclusion that genocide and ethnocide took place with the introduction of capitalism and the forced displacement of rural indigenous communities. Both periods are open to debate and discussion. What is not open to discussion, however, is the genocide that was perpetrated by the state and its military and security forces against indigenous peoples in the 1980s, as a tool of counterinsurgency and a consequence of the National Security Doctrine and Cold War ideology, strategies and tactics. The report presented by the UN-supported Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH, Historical Clarification Commission),2 Guatemala: Memory of Silence, in 1999 clearly demonstrated that genocide was perpetrated in Guatemala in a certain period and in specific localities. It declared very clearly the accountability of the state and its military and security forces in those acts of genocide. However, today, 12 years after the signature of the Firm and Lasting Peace Accord and nine years after the public presentation of the CEH report, nothing has been done in Guatemala to further investigate or prosecute genocide, the most heinous crime against humanity. The chapter analyzes events in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s, demonstrating that, in fact, genocide went beyond the limited areas described by the
CEH and the period of time in question. The entire strategy applied by the armed forces from 1978 on was, indeed, genocidal, not only against indigenous peoples but also against ideological enemies. My argument is that repression against “the internal enemy” was also a type of genocide. This chapter also demonstrates that this crime cannot be judged in Guatemala, due to its weak and corrupt justice system, nor by the International Criminal Court, because the events took place before its creation. Therefore, the right approach for achieving justice is the creation of an ad hoc international tribunal. Guatemala has uncovered, so far, some important truths about the dark period of genocide, but it is still far from legal justice, compensation, and reparation.