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Human Rights

Exhumation Accompaniment

Legal Cases

ADIVIMA was founded in 1994, as an association of victims of the internal armed conflict in Guatemala. The work of the association is directed specifically to the search for solutions to the legal, social, economic, and educational problems that confront the survivors of the armed conflict. To be able to achieve these objectives, ADIVIMA has designed an organizational structure that has allowed us to create three main commissions of work:

  • Commission for Human Rights

  • Commission for Socioeconomic Development

  • Commission for Community Formation, Organization, and Participation

Commission for Human Rights

1. Legal accompaniment in the cases of grave human rights violations that occurred during the internal armed conflict.

During the past 13 years ADIVIMA has accompanied and supported survivors in many different human rights legal cases that the victims of the internal conflict have brought against the government. These include the cases of the numerous massacres and acts of genocide that occurred in the Maya Achí communities due to the active participation and action of the Guatemalan National Army and Civil Defense Patrol (PAC) squads as a part of the strategies of the governments of Lucas García, Benedicto Lucas y Efraín Ríos Montt.

Each of the cases must meet certain criteria, as a part of a national legal strategy that has been implemented to determine which cases the legal system will take. These include an exhumation that has been properly managed and executed under the care of forensic anthropologists and eye witness testimonies from survivors who can both testify to what happened and identify those directly responsible for the crimes. Then, the next step is to infer to their intellectual authors.

The legal and penal processes of the cases in which ADIVIMA has accompanied have lasted more than thirteen years with some positive results, although there are many difficulties that exist that do not allow the goals and objectives of these cases to be completely met. Some of these difficulties include the use of resources by the Institute of Public Penal Defense to prolong trials and outlast the lesser resources of ADIVIMA, as well as the delay of the release of legal resolutions by the Constitutional Court, which can take up to two years.

In the case of the massacre that occurred in community of Río Negro on March 13, 1982, which killed 107 children and 70 women, the work of ADIVIMA has sent to prison 9 PAC members responsible for the massacres, three of which were sentences to 50 years in prison. In 2006, during a public forum, an order was issued to capture three more PAC members responsible for the massacres. Although the motion was presented before the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights, the state has shown little will to capture or punish the three PAC patrol men. The case against the military detachment responsible in this situation is another circumstance that qualifies under this paradigm. They have also been denounced by ADIVIMA before the Public Minister for their crimes against humanity.

Another case in which ADIVIMA accompanied was the case in Pachalum, Baja Verapaz that was presented before the M.P. on December 13, 2005 in order to denounce the crimes of assassination, attempted extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity that occurred there. They are trying to achieve justice for the acts were executed by the military and the PAC civil patrol units of Pachalum, Baja Verapaz during 1982 against the civil society. As of today there is an order to capture 5 of the perpetrators, two of which are currently under arrest and in prison awaiting trial, the other three of which are currently fugitives of the law.

There continue to exist demands from the families of the victims to bring to justice the perpetrators in the many other cases of massacres in Baja Verapaz and Alta Verapaz. The case against Coronel José Antonio Solares Gonzáles, in regards to the Río Negro massacres, was brought to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights over three years ago, but the government still has failed to execute the order for his capture and trial. As of today, ADIVIMA´s own legal office is still responsible for each of these cases.

2. Social and Legal Accompaniment in the Exhumation of Clandestine Graves

Undertaking exhumations is a lengthy and complex process that can last anywhere from several months to several years. ADIVIMA works to facilitate and coordinate this process so as to make it as simple as possible for the families of the victims. This process involves identifying sites of clandestine graves, gathering testimony from eyewitness survivors, planning traditional Mayan ceremonies before the exhumations, coordinating the efforts of the FAFG to exhume the graves, creating a petition from information from the forensic anthropologists, presenting the cases before the Public Ministry, and coordinating proper funerals and burial ceremonies with families of the victims. This long process is important in the documentation of the events that occurred during the internal conflict as well as to attempt to bring a sense of peace to the families of the victims.

The work of ADIVIMA and other organizations that participate in the exhumation process is currently funded by the UN and other international and bi-lateral donors, through the National Program of Repatriations. Funding for these projects will run out after August 2007 and ADIVIMA, in association with many other organizations, has petitioned for funding to continue. We will not know until around August of 2007 whether or not funding for ADIVIMA to work in this crucial area will continue.

The lessons learned through the internal conflict have made ADIVIMA demand access to human rights through the work of our own organization of survivors in the more than 250 investigations and denunciations of clandestine cemeteries in Baja Verapaz and more than 25 in Alta Verapaz. ADIVIMA has provided legal accompaniment in 59 of the exhumations executed in Baja Verapaz and 6 in Alta Verapaz. In 2006 alone, ADIVIMA provided accompaniment and support in more than 14 exhumations of clandestine graves.

3. The Right to Repatriation and Vindication for the Indigenous Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam

For years, we at ADIVIMA have been fighting for reparations for the damages caused by the creation of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam on the Rio Negro River. On September 7, 2004 ADIVIMA began to accompany and legally advise the affected communities with strategies for negotiation and organization to lobby for the creation of a high commission that would be able to: a) determine the damages caused by the expropriation of land and the displacement of people due to the Chixoy Dam, as well as what repatriations need to be made to the victims, b) establish a timeline and specific mechanisms to undertake these repatriations, c) identify a financial source and support for the allocation of the resources necessary from the National General Budget of Guatemala. On September 18, 2006, an agreement was reached for the installation of the commission, and was signed into law by the Vice President of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein Barillas. As of today, ADIVIMA is undertaking negotiations with the government concerning the case of the Chixoy Dam repatriations. The facilitation and mediation of this process falls under the responsibility of the Organization of American States (OAS), the observation of the World Bank (WB), the Interamerican Development Bank, the Guatemalan Procurator of Human Rights, and the United Nations Office of the High Commission on Human Rights.

In the case to resolve the petitions of the 28 indigenous communities, nine community leaders that have been important at the negotiation table with the government were legally prosecuted with criminal charges in 2004. Experts believe that these charges were politically motivated in order to scare them away from the proceedings. The charges occurred after a peaceful protest, at the site of the dam, for the creation of a commission to begin the process of repatriations to the victims. The charges included illegal threats, illegal detainments, attacks against the security of a public utility, and activities against the security of the state. Among those arrested were three ADIVIMA employees including Juan de Dios García,, Carlos Chen Osorio, and Félix Alonso Raymundo. The legal department of ADIVIMA has accompanied in these cases since 2004, in the defense of the leaders, and due to their efforts the charges have recently been dropped.
Commission for Socioeconomic Development

Rotating Micro Credit Project

ADIVIMA has implemented a program of small rotating micro credit opportunities for the victims of the internal conflict that currently live in extreme poverty. These small loans allow the families to improve their economic status through investments in their livelihoods and to provide new ways to generate income.

Commission for Community Formation, Organization, and Participation

1. Project for Citizen Participation

Rabinal was one of the municipalities most affected during the internal armed conflict that occurred during the 1980s, which destroyed the personal integrity of many and greatly affected the social fabric of the area. Due to this, many people in Rabinal are afraid to involve themselves in participatory activities, which has debilitated the civil society and the development of the municipality.
The majority of the inhabitants of the municipality of Rabinal are young and this means that the municipal government and NGOs of the area must promote and strengthen spaces of active participation and equality to establish new paradigms for the vision of the youth, in order to promote social development for the future of the general population. Due to the cultural aspect of machismo, discrimination against women is notorious, especially in local and community organizations as seen in the members of the second level of the COCODES, or community governmental structures, and the Municipal Corporation. For these reasons it is necessary to elaborate on a strategic plan of municipal investment to create a space of sensitivity through a massive campaign to incorporate those usually excluded, but who desire to become community leaders with the help of ADIVIMA.

Also, in the past four years ADIVIMA has worked on a Minimal Municipal Agenda for Rabinal in regards to the care and development of women and youth who have been victims of the internal conflict. As of now, ADIVIMA is currently keeping its commitment to evaluate the successes and failures of the past agenda for 2003-2007, and create a new agenda for 2008-2012.

2. Program to Provide Equipment to Schools

This program operates in the rural communities, affected by the Chixoy Dam Project and the internal armed conflict, that do not receive resources from the government to help provide assets and equipment for educating their youth.
3. Program to Provide Scholarships to Young Girls

ADIVIMA´s scholarship program is currently in development and will be directed towards families with little resources to send their children to school. Due to the machismo in Guatemala, ADIVIMA believes that girls are regularly excluded from obtaining an education, especially in these rural areas. This opportunity for girls will provide them with an education and the ability to return to their communities to promote social, economic, and educational development in some of the most depressed regions surrounding Rabinal.

Association For the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence in the Verapaces, Maya Achí