You must forgive me once more a small change in narration style. The events of the day I am writing about demand a more direct approach. As I sit here, the sun on my back, little birds chirping outside my house I am shocked to find myself morbid. This is not due to where I am now however, it has everything to do with the events of which I intend to write.
A story like this is best told from the beginning.
In 1974 the killing began. Whole villages slaughtered and piled into their well, which the military filled in on top of them. Women forced to watch their children die, infants bashed against trees and thrown in to the well first, their bones crushed to dust under the weight of the rest of their village. This continued until 1993.
In the city there were more kidnappings than killings, people were being taken from their homes, from the streets and haven’t been seen or heard from since. People began to congregate outside of hospitals and morgues searching desperately for their loved ones. After a time they banded together, knowing that unified they stood a better chance of finding answers.
This is how FAMDEGUA began.
Once translated FAMDEGUA stands for Family of Disappeared and Detained in Guatemala. Their mission; to find all 45,000 people who are still missing and put to trial those responsible.
When it became clear the police had little interest in helping find the missing people, FAMDEGUA went to churches and embassies, trying to get someone to listen to them. Finally a representative of amnesty international caught wind of their story. With the help of the French ambassador they were able to spread the word to the international community of the injustice taking place with in Guatemala.
Since then four soldiers and one general have been convicted of their crimes and are now spending 30 years in jail for each person they killed. 6,030 years each.
In 1993 the first exhumations of mass graves began, funded by FAMDEGUA. We visited one such sight.
As you walk through the door, the smell is unmistakable. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled it before, if I have I cannot remember, however I know instantly what it was, the smell of rotting human flesh. In front of me, there are three person sized canvas bag lying on the floor. I try not to imagine what is inside. Beyond the bags, a huge gaping hole in the ground, the source of the smell.
I keep my eyes on the young man speaking to us, trying to look nowhere but him, afraid of what I might find should my eyes stray.
To my displeasure, I can not help but see the tables piles with human bones, the mountain of trash bags containing pieces of 200,000 people.
I can not handle this. My tears streaming from my face I turn from the sight, walk back to the van, sit down, and cry.
My whole body shaking with sobs, my mind with a question; how can human beings allow this to happen?
Do you know?