Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wants There to be Justice

Guatemalan human rights activist, Jesús Tecú, received the Roger N. Baldwin Medal this week in New York, in recognition of his humanitarian work.
(Originally posted in Spanish in Prensa Libre: 22/5/2010, translation by Jackie McVicar)

The path towards humanitarian activism began with the loss of his parents and brother, who were assassinated by the military in the massacre of Rio Negro in March 1982, during the internal armed conflict.

How does this award help you in your work?

It strengthens the struggle for human rights and will inject energy amid the society we live in and some threats that I have received; it gives us courage to keep fighting.

Has your work for human rights been difficult since you started?

We support several cases, like that of Rio Negro, and cases like this is where the threats come from.

How are these cases going?

I’m a witness in the Rio Negro case. We have achieved the sentencing of several ex-civil defense patrollers and the warrant for Colonel Antonio Solares is pending. The authorities know where he is, but they don’t want to capture him.

What is your role in these cases?

I’m joint plaintiff in the open case in the Spanish National Court, which is investigating several military in the country for crimes committed during the armed conflict.

How do the threats against you make you feel about the Guatemalan justice system?

We can’t abandon the system we have. Our mission is to strengthen the law and we have done it for several years. We do not seek revenge, nor speak ill of our country.

We want there to be an investigation into the causes through the rule of law, but we know that currently, in a hundred cases in the Public Prosecutor’s office, only three are investigated.

Do you believe that the structures that led to the massacre of Rio Negro, where your family died, still have power in Guatemala?

Yes, because recently what has happened is that they have changed place; they haven’t been deactivated, and many times, they use delinquency to commit crimes and when they are discovered, they are the same ones who run them.

What has been achieved to date in this case?

In Chixoy, there has been a dialogue for the past six years without results and we don’t know when there will be justice.

What is the principle outcome you see from this situation of impunity?

Our grandparents our dying of sadness and of diseases provoked by the armed conflict and no one is concerned for them. I imagine they are waiting for all the victims to die, to avoid compensating the cost of the war.