Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada write, in El Faro, on the recent verdicts in the Achí Women Case and what justice means for the surviving victims – perhaps justice but not closure.
The piece describes disturbing examples of gendered violence as a weapon of war, and its generational consequences.
Pedrina López de Paz takes the witness stand and begins to tell the court about the most calamitous night of her life. It was Aug. 20, 1982, during the height of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. Efraín Ríos Montt, convicted of genocide in 2013, was the de facto president.
Pedrina lived with her parents and four younger siblings in the village of Pacotzij in Rabinal, a municipality in the department of Baja Verapaz. About 80 percent of the population of Rabinal identifies as Maya Achi.
Two neighbors, brothers Benvenuto and Bernardo Ruiz Aquino, arrived at the house. Pedrina, who was 12 years old at the time, remembers that her mother offered them some food, then after a short while they left. Hours later, the Ruiz Aquino brothers returned. They were wearing military uniforms and their faces were covered in paint, but Pedrina recognized them. There were soldiers too.
They entered the house yelling. They beat her father and dragged him out of the house. They accused him of being a guerrilla and demanded that he hand over information. They did the same to her mother, after throwing her year-old infant to the ground. They dragged her parents away toward the mountains. Pedrina never saw them again.
You can read the full article here, Imperfect Justice Is Still Justice for Wartime Rape Survivors in Guatemala.