Amid Impunity Concerns, Guatemalan Courts Advance with War Crimes Cases

Jeff Abbott has written a piece for The Progressive, reflecting on the progress of the Diario Militar (“Death Squad Dossier”) case and its progress through the Guatemalan courts, and which is to reach a conclusion very soon.


Mayarí de León was seventeen years old when her father, [Luis de Lión], was abducted, tortured, killed, and disappeared by the Guatemalan armed forces on May 15, 1984. 

De Lión was a renowned Indigneous Mayan Kaqchikel author and poet. His posthumously published book, El tiempo principia en Xibalbá, is considered to be one of the country’s most important works of literature.

“The forced disappearance [of a loved one] never ends,” de León tells The Progressive. “The pain never goes away because of the uncertainty of what happened to your family member.”

De Lión is one of the 45,000 people disappeared by the Guatemalan military and paramilitary forces between 1960 and 1996, during the country’s thirty-six-year internal armed conflict. 

“The military has remained silent,” de León says. “They limit the knowledge of where the bodies of our disappeared are.”

It wasn’t until a secret internal military log known as the “Death Squad Dossier” was uncovered in 1999 that de León knew what had happened to her father. The dossier showed a systematic campaign of disappearances of 183 people during the dictatorship of General Óscar Humberto Mejía Víctores (1983-1986), and included photos of the victims and descriptions of their political activities. It was the first official written record of a campaign of kidnappings and execution found in modern Central America.

Luis de Lión was listed as victim number 135. He was executed on June 5, 1984.

Justice is on the horizon for the first time since the disappearance of de Lión and the other 182 victims; Guatemalan courts are currently trying eleven former police officers and military members for the forced disappearances, torture, and murder of those listed in the document. 


You can read the full article, including links and photos, here, Amid Impunity Concerns, Guatemalan Courts Advance with War Crimes Cases.

The article is part of ‘The Other Americans’, a series the writer does for The Progressive, on the theme of human migration in North and Central America. You can read his columns here, The Other Americans.



Categories: Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Legal, Military, Racism, Resource Extraction, Violence

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