|Interview with H.I.J.O.S.|
¡Presente! talked with Cecilia Gonzales of H.I.J.O.S. during the Americas Social Forum in Guatemala City about their activism, the re-militarization and the School of the Americas.
What is HIJOS? What is your work for justice in Guatemala?
The National Security Archives produced a list of 180 or more names of people that were disappeared [during the civil war]; nothing was known of them. Among those people are the mothers and fathers of HIJOS members.
An organization called FAMDEGUA (Relatives of those disappeared in Guatemala) supported us when we first formed the collective in 1999. We came out publicly for the first time on June 30, 1999. This date is the anniversary of the [founding of the] military and there is always a parade. According to the peace accords, military parades are not permitted, but they have continued. That year, we jumped into the parade. It was very tough.
HIJOS’ three principles are memory, truth, justice.
Memory means that we construct our own histories. Our parents and siblings have been portrayed as victims, but it is important to also place emphasis on their contributions to the struggle and their resistance. We are reconstructing our own history. We want to recognize the struggle that took place and often-denied element of armed struggle in our official histories.
Truth means to know what happened, who our parents and relatives were. These have been processes in HIJOS that have taken place for 10 years. To remember them not as they are in the exhumation pictures – but full of life, as happy people, fighting people.
What is the biggest challenge that HIJOS is facing at the moment?
It is the re-militarization of the army in the current government. On an international level it is said that Guatemala has a leftist, democratic government, but it is not this way. The military continues to dispossess people of what belongs to them. We have to denounce this; it is not a government in favor of human rights. Three times this year they have declared a curfew. There is Ramiro Choque, who is the first political prisoner of this government, who worked in Livingston in the Caribbean communities.
What are the greatest triumphs of HIJOS in Guatemala?
A symbolic triumph is our four-year struggle to stop the military parade that takes place every year. We began to organize strong mobilizations every June 30. The first year we began by demonstrating at the military base; the second year they paraded in a public park and we infiltrated and protested it. Last year we stopped the military parade. And this is how it took place. It was announced that there was going to be a military parade. We managed to create a huge debate with our campaign, and for more than a month many wrote newspaper articles in favor and against it. We created a dialogue over this issue. This year, the military did not come out.
The goverment announced that the parade would not take place but not because of pressure from the movement. To provide you with some background information, this date [June 30] comes from 1871, the date of the victory of the Liberal Revolution. It is celebrated as when the military was born as an instrument of the wealthy and powerful.
What impact does the SOA/WHINSEC and the U.S. military training in Guatemala today?
I don’t have exact figures, but the impact that the school has had inside the Guatemalan population has been to impose the US model of security. They continue to impose their agenda. Before they would call us communists, now they call us terrorists. They continue to impose their ways; there is repression and it continues to cost lives. A controversial topic is the death of youth and women. It seems at times that these deaths can be linked to the military for the signs of torture and the way the bodies appear.
Who are the people most affected by military violence or of the state of Guatemala today?
The most vulnerable sectors are the indigenous and peasant communities. There are military posts outside of their communities and on the outskirts of the city neighborhoods.
What role does impunity in Guatemala and the work of HIJOS play today?
There are laws that continue to affect groups. Rios Montt [the former Guatemalan general who received his training at the School of the Americas before he became military dictator], accused of one of the major genocides, not only runs free but he is a Congressman, and on top of it, he is the President of the Human Rights Commission in Congress! This clearly shows that impunity continues.
we have to see where it comes from, the fight against millitarism and imperialism. We have to unite the people of the United States and the people of Latin America.
Interview with H.I.J.O.S
written by Enoch Yisrael, May 04, 2009
HIJOS E HIJAS DE LA MEMORIA CHILE
written by Hijos e Hijas de la Memoria Chile, May 11, 2009
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The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.
Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.
As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.
The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!
Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more.
Download this issue of Presente here.
Interview with Father Fausto Mila in Honduras
SOA Watch participated in the International Human Rights Encuentro in Honduras in February 2012. Laura Jung spoke with Father Fausto Milla, a religious leader in the Honduran movement who has been persecuted by the State of Honduras.
By Pablo Ruiz, Equipo Latinoamericano of SOA Watch
SOAW Chile achieved an important victory; to declassify the names of over 760 Chilean soldiers who took courses at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC during the past decade.
For more info about ¡Presente!, go to About US.
Now is the moment to build barriers, to build walls and to fight against intolerance, against racism, sexism and globalisation, to fight vigorously against that. And to re-unite people.
- Augusto Boal
A challenging new documentary has quickly become one of the
widest-reaching films to encapsulate the history of the SOA Watch
An in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002.