By Cyril Mychalejko
This well-documented accusation surfaces as the Central American nation becomes the first country in the Americas to try a former president for genocide and crimes against humanity in a domestic court. But the prosecution of war criminals and the accusations against International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have so far done little to protect vulnerable communities from the ongoing expansion of mining, oil and other economic interests invading their territories and violating their human rights.
"Generating Terror," the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s report issued in December, examines how international lending and debt by IFIs such as the World Bank and the IDB helped legitimize Guatemala's genocidal regimes of the late 1970s and early 1980s and essentially subsidized their terror campaigns.
"The lending of Western States and banks and the multilateral banks they control (importantly including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Inter-American Development Bank) was an important element in sustaining the long period of military rule which followed the coup against President (Jacobo) Arbenz in 1954," the report states. "Particularly worrying, however, is the very dramatic increase in lending that coincided with the highest waves of terror, which reached genocidal proportions in the late 1970s and early 1980s."
Jubilee's report uses the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam project as a case study.
"Communities threatened by new similar projects should not let their rights be violated because these projects result in the destruction of the social fabric and even in death," said Juan de Dios, a Mayan Guatemalan who since 2005 has been spearheading, along with others, the formal Chixoy Dam Reparations negotiation process with the government of Guatemala on behalf of all the Chixoy Dam-harmed communities.
The World Bank and IDB initially agreed to fund the project with the murderous military regime of Fernando Romeo Lucas García in 1978. Between 1978 and 1989, the banks lent $400 million for the project. Between March 1980 and September 1982, there was a series of planned massacres carried out against the Mayan Achi villagers of Rio Negro in the area of Guatemala where the dam project was constructed, resulting in the murder of 440 men, women and children.
These massacres effectively "relocated" the village of Rio Negro to make way for the Chixoy Dam flood basin, and were part of a scorched-earth counterinsurgency campaign targeting the country's indigenous population. According to the United Nations, this amounted to a genocide resulting in more than 200,000 murders, more than 45,000 people "disappeared" and other war crimes such as torture and rape.
For more on the subject, see Guatemalan Dictator Charged with Genocide and Reagan Aided Atrocities Against Indians.
Below: Luis A. Moreno, President of Inter-American Development Bank.