The Struggle Against Impunity in Guatemala Continues: 31st Anniversary of the Panzós Massacre

  On May 29, 31 years ago, there was a massacre in the Municipality of Panzós (department of Izabal), when the Zacapa Detachment of the Guatemalan army opened fire on hundreds of campesino men, women and children who had gathered in the Panzos town square to demand a solution to land disputes in the Polochic river valley area.

Panzós was one of the first massacres in the genocide that eventually spread to all of Guatemala.

In 1997, when the exhumation of the massacre victims took place, there was a call for a full investigation to find the individuals who gave the order to carry out the massacre of the indigenous Q’eqchi’ campesinos.

The investigation that has been carried out over the 12 years since the exhumations is inadequate. It has failed to put an end to impunity or achieve justice. This investigation has not proven to be impartial and has helped with the cover-up of the military and civil authorities responsible for the massacre.

Many of the investigation procedures have been initiated by Guatemala Association of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared (FAMDEGUA), which is a co-complainant in this process. While the Public Ministry is legally responsible for the criminal investigation, it has been left it to FAMDEGUA  to carry out the investigation and provide evidence.

Some 35 witnesses and victims have testified to what happened in this case. However, the Public Ministry does not appear to be impartial, given that it has not solicited testimonies from people who are directly or indirectly linked to military personnel involved in the Panzos massacre – this, despite the fact that FAMDEGUA has provided information that would lead to their being summoned to testify.

While the State has accepted over-all responsibility for the macabre events that took place in Panzos, it is the responsibility of the State to seek out the complete truth about what happened, fully compensate the victims and ensure that justice is served.

FAMDEGUA demands that the Public Ministry fulfill its commitment to the victims and name those responsible, put aside their indifference, put an end to impunity and carry out a full investigation that will lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators of this massacre.


Asociacion FAMDEGUA,