GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -- Former leftist guerrilla leaders on Friday
added to a recent stream of regrets from all sides of Guatemala's bloody,
36-year civil war, formally apologizing for their excesses and mistakes.
"With deep sorrow and humbleness we ask for forgiveness from the memory
of the victims, their relatives and the communities that suffered irreparable
losses, injustices or offenses," Jorge Soto, secretary general of the
Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit (URNG), former guerrillas now
registered as a political party, said at a news conference.
A truth commission reported on February 25 the URNG was responsible
for three percent of atrocities, including summary executions of their own
members accused of treason, during the war, which ended with a peace
accord in 1996.
The commission blamed the Guatemalan army for 93 percent of the human
rights abuses during Central America's longest civil war, in which an
estimated 200,000 people died, mostly civilian Mayan Indian peasants,
many of them in massacres.
The guerrilla regrets came two days after President Bill Clinton, in Central
America to view damage from last year's Hurricane Mitch, made an
unprecedented apology for the U.S. role in backing the military during the
Also, in December, Guatemalan President Alvaro Arzu apologized for the
government's role in the war and called for a national forgiveness campaign.
On Friday, the URNG also blasted the United States for what it called
Washington's "ignominious foreign intervention" and accused the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) of "destroying the democratic system" in
The truth commission report released last month concluded that the CIA
U.S. Army advisors were key to state-sponsored genocide committed
during the conflict.
Dressed in business suits and wearing ties, the former guerrillas said
time to work toward national reconciliation and to build a Guatemala based
on justice, opportunity and racial equality.
Soto, formerly known as Commander Pablo Monsanto, pledged that the
URNG would observe the truth commission's recommendations to
compensate war victims.
Copyright 1999 Reuters.