Guatemalan military releases files on 650,000 citizens
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- The Guatemalan military collected files on
more than 650,000 people suspected of posing a danger, officials from the
Secretariat of Strategic Analysis confirmed Thursday.
The 650,428 files, which span at least two decades, were released on
Lines formed at the office of the government Guatemalan human rights
prosecutor and grew throughout the day as people arrived to find if their names
were included in an index thicker than the Guatemala City telephone book.
Those who found their names were allowed to peer at the computerized data
one of three computer monitors at the rights prosecutor's office.
Among those names included in the formerly secret archives is that of Roman
Catholic Bishop Juan Gerardi, who was beaten to death in 1998 two days after
issuing a report that blamed the military in the overwhelming majority of the
200,000 civilian deaths in Guatemala's 36-year civil war.
Also listed is Helen Mack, who began a human rights organization after
was killed by soldiers in 1990 while doing anthropological research among civil
The undated entries in the index feature simply a name, date of birth and
description consisting of either a number or the last name of another person.
Guatemala's prosecutor for human rights, Julio Arango Escobar, said the
had been turned over to state prosecutors and officials at the United Nations
Mission to Guatemala several weeks ago to "determine whether keeping such
information is a crime."
"This demonstrates the control of the army enjoyed over civil society,"
said. "These are very complete lists for a small country like Guatemala."
According to the Strategy Secretary analysis of its own files, only about
of the Guatemalans listed were known to be affiliated with a high-profile human
rights organization or leftist political party.