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Story of Tomás

October 8, 2012

Submitted by:  CONAVIGUA, Guatemala

In the early 1980’s the persecution against residents of the Sajcap community began.  During 1981 and 1982, the situation became so aggravated that people could no longer walk the streets and no one could live peacefully in their homes because the army could come at any time and kill us.  I remember that in May of 1982 my family and I were refugees in an improvised property of ours in a ravine about 500 feet from our house where we had all our things and animals.  On May 26, 1982, we were told that the army was coming to our community and we immediately went to our place of refuge.  I went to tell my brother, Alejandro, who was across the border, and from there we went to where the rest of the family was.  There was my mother, Ciriaca, my wife, Maria, and my daughter, Isabel who was six months old.  About 30 feet away from where we were was my calf and since it had not been fed, I went to give it some grass.  When I was about six feet meters from the animal, the shooting began and in shock I ran back to where my family was.  We heard the army was already close to us, so we ran out of our place and the military began to shoot at us and throw grenades.  I took my daughter on my back, with my wife, mother, and my brother running behind us.  We had run a few yards when I looked back and saw my brother fall as the bullets reached him.  I remember telling my mother to hurry but she stood right there and told me to go.  I looked several feet back and I saw my mother as she was lying -- they had shot her, too.  They were still shooting grenades, but I managed to flee and escape and I went to seek refuge elsewhere.  After two days, we were informed that the soldiers had withdrawn. I immediately returned to the scene and, unfortunately, found my mother and brother dead near the site.  With the help of two people, I immediately proceeded to bury them in the woods because the army could return at any time.

This is the sad story of my mother and my brother, but after many years I now have the happiness of seeing them again through the exhumation.  I was unaware of this work.  I had the intention of doing it, but did not know how to go about it.  Now I give thanks to the work of CONVAIGUA and other organizations that perform this work in the Village Pachay Las Lomas Municipality of San Martin Jilotepeque.  I now come and ask for support for CONAVIGUA.  I am very pleased and I’m glad my deceased relatives receive the dignity of a decent burial.

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