December 17, 2019
Guatemalan sexual violence war crimes trial comes to a Boston court
As the U.S. and Canadian governments, businesses and investors maintain full relations with a corrupt, exploitative and repressive regime in power in Guatemala today – responsible for the violence and destitution that force tens of thousands of people to flee into exile every year -, an extraordinary war crimes trial advances in the corrupted Guatemalan legal system, with a particular hearing on December 20, 2019, at 2pm, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston MA.
On December 20, former civil defense patroller Francisco Cuxum will be sentenced in Boston Federal Court on immigration related charges. When his sentence is completed, he will be deported to Guatemala where he will face charges for his role in U.S.-backed sexual violence war crimes against Maya Achi women in the Rabinal region of Guatemala during the 1970s and 80s.
Chixoy dam massacres and sexual violence
Some of the sexual violence war crimes in this region were committed in the context of the illegal and extremely violent “Chixoy hydro-electric dam” investment project of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Generals Lucas Garcia and Efrain Rios Montt.
Suspect in Maya Achi Sexual Violence Case Makes Key Admission in US Court
October 4, 2019 by Jo-Marie Burt & Paulo Estrada
In June, International Justice (IJ) Monitor reported that a Guatemalan man wanted in relation to the mass sexual assault of Maya Achí women in the 1980s, Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, also known as Francisco Cuxun-Alvarado, was detained on April 30 in Waltham, Massachusetts. On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts issued a press release stating that Cuxum Alvarado pleaded guilty to one count of illegal reentry into the United States.
Cuxum Alvarado faces up to two years in prison, and a sentencing hearing has been scheduled for December. After serving his sentence, Cuxum Alvarado will be removed to Guatemala, where he is accused of crime against humanity in the Maya Achí sexual violence case. In addition, Cuxum Alvarado was named as a suspect in the March 13, 1982 massacre of women and children at Cerro Pacoxom.
A New Chapter for the Maya Achi Case?
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, Cuxum Alvarado admitted to law enforcement to being a member of the Rabinal civil defense patrol. His admission and subsequent conviction potentially open a new chapter in the Maya Achí sexual violence case.
In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged Cuxum Alvarado, along with nine other individuals, with crimes against humanity for their role in mass sexual assault of Maya Achí women in and around Rabinal. According to the Attorney General’s Office, all the men were members of military-controlled militias called the civil defense patrols (PACs).
In the early 1980s, the Guatemalan army carried out a series of attacks against the indigenous Maya Achí people of Rio Negro, in and around the municipality of Rabinal, in the department of Baja Verapaz. During these massacres, the Guatemalan army, assisted by the PACs, forcibly removed the Maya Achí from Rio Negro. In this context, more than 400 Maya Achí people were killed and hundreds more were displaced. In addition to the murders, there were mass sexual assaults carried out against Achí-Mayan women.
The Trail to the Intellectual Authors
While no senior military officials have been charged in the Maya Achí sexual assault case, the evidence presented by the prosecution points to the criminal responsibility of senior military officials based in Military Zone 21 (MZ21) in Cobán, Alta Verapaz.
Jo-Marie Burt is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies at George Mason University, and Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Paulo Estrada is a human rights activist, archaeology student at San Carlos University, and civil party in the Military Diary case.
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