Numerous cases of genocide have occurred throughout the history of the world that has brought devastation and destruction to countless communities homes and families Often times genocide was carried out by the government against a minority in the nation Genocide was officially declared an international crime in 1948 In the Central American country of Guatemala the government targeted the Mayan Indians indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica The Guatemalan genocide is one in which a native people who once prospered in their homeland became an impoverished and oppressed minority because of the hate and ignorance harbored by the spanish explorers that conquered the land Guatemala is a relatively small country in Central America just below Mexico This region was once the center of the ancient Mayan civilization As the age of exploration brought the Spanish conquest of Central America the native peoples were forced into a new economic system that relied heavily on slave labor a role filled by the Mayans Although Guatemala gained independence in 1821 it continued to be ruled by a series of military dictators aligned with the landed oligarchy CJA This made it easy for them to take advantage of the people and remain an influence on the nation s political economic and social matters The Mayans would be oppressed for so long it would become normal and the atmosphere for genocide would grow Political chaos and civil war in the 1960 s and 70 s only contributed to this atmosphere It became easier for extremist parties to gain influence and power in Guatemala Two main sides developed the right wing military dictatorship and the aggressive guerilla movement which launched a full scale civil war against the government CJA
The two struggled to gain the support of the Mayan population on the issue The guerillas were essentially the Mayans only chance to achieve change Their support made them an enemy to the state in the eyes of the government They claimed the Mayans were working in a communist group against the government and used this as an excuse to lead a campaign of violence throughout the nation An atmosphere for genocide was fueled by these events which led to the systematic attempt at the destruction of the indigenous Mayan people The Guatemalan genocide was the result of the escalation of the internal conflict within the nation The government used extreme tactics to silence the Mayans such as the scorched earth policy Launched in April 1982 the policy caused over 600 villages to suffer the bombardment of violence from the government Men for forced to join the military force while others were raped and murdered The army destroyed as many resources as possible like water supplies food and their homes Sacred locations and cultural relics were violated An estimated 200 000 people total were killed or forcibly disappeared under the scorched earth policy and between 500 000 and 1 5 million Mayan civilians fled to other regions within the country or became refugees abroad CJA Other tactics employed by the army were even more gruesome Victims of all ages often had their limbs amputated or were impaled and left to die slowly Others were doused in petrol and set alight or disemboweled while still alive Yet others were shot repeatedly or tortured and shut up alone to die in pain
The wombs of pregnant women were cut open Women were routinely raped while being tortured Guatemala 1982 Villagers were brutally killed while others were forced to watch and sometimes even take part Violence in Guatemala peaked between 1978 and 1986 and subsided in 1996 after the signing of a peace accord Although a new form of government was set up in 1986 the army held onto its power and continued the oppression of the Mayan population Efforts at peace started out very weak and didn t get very far but eventually peace was maintained The immediate result of the Guatemalan genocide was the destruction of the Mayan Indian culture and spirit After so many years of oppression the people could barely do anything to resist People like Catholic priests and nuns trying to help the Mayans would typically be targeted as well Once the genocide was recognized universally the United Nations issued a report stating that governmental policy of genocide was carried out against the Mayan Indians Genocide In Guatemala A peace agreement was introduced and included the establishment of The Historical Clarification Commission investigation of the war crimes committed The organization gathered about 9 000 witness statements throughout the nation and began pressing charges on those directly responsible In 1998 three members of a mobile death squad called a civil patrol were found tried and convicted for their part in the genocide More recently in 2009 a military commissioner Felipe Cusanero was sentenced to 150 years in prison for forcing the disappearance of 6 members of the Choatulum indigenous community Later in 2011 four soldiers received a 30 year sentence per murder and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity They each received a total of 6 060 years for the destruction of a village in Northern Guatemala
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