The first announcement came over the radio as I maneuvered my rental car over the winding roads around Chichicastenango. "On January 31, a group of indigenous and Ladinos, students and others, peacefully occupied the Spanish Embassy. The goverment, through the police, entered by force. Over 40 people died in the massacre, and others were killed extrajudicially." The announcement went on to say that this was the 79th event recorded by the CEH (the Comisión de Esclaramiento Histórico -- the historical clarification commission). The announcement, clearly a paid announcement, was repeated numerous times throughout the 4 hour drive from Quiché into the city. I had known about the event -- this was when Rigoberta Menchú's father was killed -- but hadn't known or paid attention to the date.
It took an unusually long time to get in Guatemala City today, and once I was in the city, it was especially hard to get around the central part of town since there were commemorative/protest activities. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to any of the events as I was trying to take are of all of the paperwork necessary to purchase my pick-up (or ´picop as my friend Patrick corrects me).
The wounds of the war are still fresh. There was a story in one of the local papers, Prensa Libre, which noted that no one has been brought to justice for the massacres. The comments from readers were mixed; a few posited that we must put the past behind us; one went so far as to accuse Rigoberta for using this for her own personal gain. One reader wrote that the people in the embassy were innocent peasants just asking for justice; another responded that they were not so innocent and had set off Molotov cocktails.
Here is a link to that story: