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Thursday, September 11, 2003 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Sept. 9-13, 1971: New York State Troopers Kill 39 Men in...
2003-09-11

Sept. 11, 1990: U.S.-Backed Military Death Squad Murders Guatemalan Anthropologist Myrna Mack

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Mack was stalked and assassinated in retaliation for her pioneering field work which had begun to expose and document the destruction of rural indigenous communities in Guatemala. [Includes transcript]

On September 11, 1990, renowned Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack was assassinated in Guatemala City. She had been stalked for two weeks prior to her death by a U.S.-backed military death squad.

Myrna had been targeted in retaliation for her pioneering field work which had begun to expose and document the destruction of rural indigenous communities in Guatemala.

Guatemala’s U.S backed state forces and allied paramilitary groups were responsible for tens of thousands of rights violations, including attacks against indigenous populations.

For over twelve years, Myrna’s sister, Helen Mack, has fought tirelessly to bring to justice all persons involved in the murder, including high ranking officials in the Guatemalan armed forces.

In 1991, Helen Mack initiated and pursued a private prosecution in Guatemala of those responsible for the assassination. Her efforts led to the groundbreaking 1993 conviction of one of Myrna’s attackers — a low ranking security official. Later, her efforts led to the indictment and trial order of two colonels and a general–the highest ranking officials in Guatemala ever to face trial for human rights violations.

  • Helen Mack, sister of Myrna Mack, a human rights activist who was assassinated in Guatamala on Sept 11, 1990. Helen has been working on bringing the officers and generals responsible to justice for over a decade.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: On September 11th, 1990, renowned Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack was assassinated in Guatemala City. She had been stalked for two weeks prior to her death by a U.S.-backed military death squad. Myrna had been targeted in retaliation for her pioneering field work which had begun to expose and document the destruction of rural indigenous communities in Guatemala. Guatemala’s U.S.-backed state forces and allied paramilitary groups were responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations including attacks against indigenous populations. For over 12 years, Myrna’s sister Helen Mack has fought tirelessly to bring justice to people who were killed by high ranking Guatemalan officials in the armed forces. In 1991, Helen Mack initiated and pursued a private prosecution in Guatemala of those responsible for the assassination of her sister, Myrna Mack. It was the first human rights case during the time- before the Guatemala courts. Her efforts led to the ground breaking 1993 conviction of one of Myrna’s attackers. Later her efforts led to the indictment and trial of two colonels and a general–the highest ranking Guatemalan officials ever to face trial for human rights violations. We go now to Guatemala City to Helen Mack, the sister of murdered Myrna Mack, the Guatemalan anthropologist. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Helen.

HELEN MACK: Good morning and thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on this September 11th as we unite in tragedy from New York Ground Zero to you in Guatemala.

HELEN MACK: Yes. Thirteen years ago, my sister was stabbed 27 times by the death squad from the Presidential High Command. And we’ve been trying to throw out the impunity, but on May 7th, the tribunal, even we had direct evidence of their responsibility, they were acquitted on May 7th of this year.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And your thoughts in terms of the peace accords were reached in Guatemala and yet we’re seeing the return now of some of the most horrific of those leaders, for instance, General Rios Montt coming back to political prominence and in Guatemala–what are your thoughts on the situation there?.

HELEN MACK: Well, it’s very terrible, because my sister was killed in the framework of the peace negotiations, and the army didn’t—never—never have accepted the peace agreements. And even the civilian government was wondering to humanize the conflict, the militaries didn’t. So she was killed in that framework. And now, they still don’t accept the peace agreements. Even her research and her studies were very useful for the resettlement agreement and other kind of agreements for the displaced people, they still rejected, and that’s why the peace agenda in Guatemala after eight years, it has been coming down.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Helen Mac, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Helen Mac, the sister of Myrna Mac. She os the Guatemalan anthropologist who was murdered by the Guatemalan military on September 11th, 1990, as we continue in our journey to September 11th’s around the world.

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