Articles by: Ivan Briscoe
Eight years of heroic efforts to punish the ringleaders of Latin America’s worst mass slaughter of the 20th century appeared to come to an anti-climactic end in the last days of 2007. Exonerated by Guatemala’s highest court, two sickly men detained on charges relating to genocide of the country’s Mayan people were discharged from their private military hospital just in time for Christmas.
Alleged links to three high-profile assassinations, experience in a scorched earth counterinsurgency operation and rumoured ties with a cocaine-driven criminal underworld would not appear to constitute the ideal qualifications for a presidential candidate. Retired Army General Otto Pérez Molina, however, appears to have surmounted these obstacles, and it would seem safe to say that history is failing to haunt his fellow Guatemalans.
Even in safe and serene Denmark, Luiz Urquiza could not shake off the trauma inflicted by his ex-colleagues. His new line of work, taxi driving, caused the daily aggravation of his most painful wound, sustained when his tormentors fired several bullets into his left leg. Danish doctors and psychologists did what they could, but recovery was never more than partial. For two years in the 1970s, Urquiza had been jailed, mocked, beaten, suffocated and, on one occasion, taken before a fake firing squad—all because he dared study at a university before entering the Argentine police force, and was, therefore, considered “subversive.”