A little over a week ago, outrage erupted in Guatemala after military shot and killed eight indigenous protesters who marched against government policies that affected daily life (including education and access to electricity). This week, after conducting a swift but intense investigation, Guatemala has already arrested eight privates and one colonel for their roles in the murders. I’m not willing to say this one incident means the Guatemalan army’s history of human rights violations and murder of indigenous peoples with impunity is at an end – one case alone cannot prove that. Likewise, this one case does not mean human rights abuses (and the government’s ties to them) are a thing of the past – indeed, current President (and former officer) Otto Pérez has been investigated for such crimes in the past. Still, the swiftness, thoroughness, and quick action on the murders is remarkable given the history of anti-indigenous violence in Guatemala, and hopefully it marks the beginning of a new trend that respects human rights and ends impunity for crimes against indigenous peoples and others.
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