The Association for Justice and Reconciliation –AJR-
And the Office of Human Rights of the Archbishop of Guatemala -ODHAG-.

To the national and international public opinion:

After 23 years since the first complaint was filed in 2001, on March 25 and 26, 2024, the Criminal Sentencing, Drug Activity and Environmental Crimes Court for High Risk Processes, Group A, will finally begin the trial against one of the bloodiest generals in Latin American history, both for his political repression in urban centers against the union, student, social and organized popular movement, as well as for his role in the genocide against the Mayan peoples.

The trial is of retired General Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, former Chief of General Staff of the Guatemalan Army between August 16, 1981 and March 23, 1982, who will be tried for the crimes of Genocide and crimes against Humanitarian Duties, Forced Disappearance and Sexual Violence.

From his position as Operational Commander of the Guatemalan Army, he

identified the Mayan peoples of the country, especially those located in Northern Quiché, Ixcán, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango and Huehuetenango as enemies of the State. He ordered the implementation of Military Sweeping Operations in the municipalities of Santa María Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal and San Gaspar Chajul, causing the death of a minimum of 1771 people, 1172 reported with names and surnames, among these, girls, boys, old men and women, men, women, including pregnant women, in more than 32 selective and generalized massacres; destruction of more than 23 entire villages including the burning of houses, crops, destruction of work tools, persecution, forced displacement and bombings, as well as subjection of the population to conditions of hunger and disease that caused the death of hundreds more people, in addition to serious acts of sexual violence against women and girls and forced disappearance of local leaders.

The First Criminal Sentencing Court, Highest Risk Group “A,” will hear in Trial and oral and public debate, between March and June of this year, the testimony

of more than 150 witnesses, including 30 survivors of Sexual Violence, will hear 80 Forensic Anthropology Experts who will ratify more than 160 expert witness reports of exhumations carried out, 14 international experts in different branches of science such as expert witness reports on patterns of death of the victims, on the actions and responsibility of military units in the events, on forced displacement, sexual violence, psychosocial effects on the victims, damage to the community environment, among others; More than 60 military documents will be presented, such as Directives, appointments and declassified Documents from the U.S. State Department, as well as material evidence, all of which add up to approximately 20,000 pages, which will demonstrate the responsibility of the military high command in the events indicated.

To the people of Guatemala and the public opinion we ask to support and accompany the right of the victims to memory, truth and justice for the facts committed and to be attentive to the calls for solidarity that are issued.

To the international community, show their support and backing to the victims, to the survivors, through:

  • Their attendance at the Trial, and/or their following of the daily transmission of the hearings.
  • Sending delegations of jurists and specialists in International Humanitarian Law to closely follow the actions of the Tribunal and the presentation of testimonial, expert, documentary and material Evidence of international importance and transcendence.
  • Carrying out solidarity actions urging the Guatemalan Judiciary to guarantee due process, the objective and impartial actions of the Tribunal without pressure or attacks and the right of the victims to justice.

To the Ministry of the Interior to guarantee the safety of the victims, survivors, plaintiffs, legal team, prosecutors and judges who will conduct the trial.

To the First Sentencing Court, highest risk group A, we ask for justice and guarantees of non-repetition of the events.

To the survivors, we are deeply grateful for their courage and strength.

With this trial we dignify: our relatives who without committing a crime were victims of the Genocide, more than 40 witnesses who have already passed away due to their advanced age and illness without seeing justice, and our sons and daughters for a life in peace and social justice.

Guatemala. March 21st, 2024.