Guatemala’s Civil War: Genocide Against the Maya People

During my trip to Chiapas, Mexico, I met with Flori, a Maya woman. She was born in Guatemala during the time of the civil war. She and her family fled from the slaughter that was happening in their country. Flori now is a teacher and spiritual leader in the Maya communities of Chiapas. She is a wonderful example of the strength and beauty of Maya women. She is dedicating her work to make the lives of Maya women stronger.

Facts about the Civil War

In 1968 the Guatemalan Army began the systematic slaughter of the native Mayan population. This period of massacre is sometimes referred to as the “Silent Holocaust”, and led to extermination en masse of native Maya communities. The death toll in the Guatemalan Genocide exceeded that of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Chile combined. Guatemalan government forces committed over 90% of the human rights violations during the war.

*200,000 people were murdered and at least 50,000 disappeared. Approximately 95% of them were indigenous Mayans living in the highlands.

*At least 500,000- 1 million Mayan civilians fled to other regions of the country or became refugees.

Maya Women Fight for Justice

In February 2016, Maya women who had been abused and raped at the Sepur Zarco military base during the civil war period appeared in court to fight for justice. A Guatemalan court has ordered two former military officers to pay just over $1million to 11 indigenous women they held as sex slaves during the country’s civil war. The Maya women, some now in their 70s and 80s, testified that they were raped and forced to cook and wash for soldiers in 1982-83 after going to the Sepur Zarco base in northern Guatemala to ask about their husbands, who had disappeared when the military moved into the area.

Flori, Maya teacher and spiritual leader
Flori, Maya teacher and spiritual leader