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?

Our complete name is Hijas y Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio (English: Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Forgetting and Silence)

In 1996, the peace accords were signed. At that time, many young people had left the country or had been born into exile.

Photo by James Rodríguez
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.

ImageWhat 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.

SOA Grad Rios Montt

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.

What are the roles of the popular movements for social justice that are based in the United States, like SOA Watch? What role do they play in the fight for justice and against impunity in Guatemala?

In our struggle we have to see the context that affects us,

H.I.J.O.S. Mural in Guatemala City
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.


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Interview with H.I.J.O.S
written by Enoch Yisrael, May 04, 2009
Blessings to the Guatemalan brothers and sisters of H.I.J.O.S. this is a brother from up here in this wicked Babylon empire who is of Garifuna indigenous and Grenadian heritage here to let you know that the brother is full support of the that half of the greater cause and that the brother is the second cousin of the Great Pan African Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of the New Jewel Movement of the little sister island of Grenada who has web page that is entitled to which is a prelude to a upcoming grassroots leftist revolutionary progressive organization to be formed in the south side of this Western Hemisphere along with adjoining branches in the Asian,European,Nubian continents as well as the sister Pacific islands very soon so the brother would like to further support for you brothers and sisters with a branch there in the Republic of Guatemala. Backwards never forwards ever!
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written by Hijos e Hijas de la Memoria Chile, May 11, 2009
Un gran saludo y rogamos contactarno para compartir experiencias y propósitos.

Adriana Goñi Godoy
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