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Before the Spanish court the other day, one of the surviving Mayans ended his testimony by standing up at the judge’s desk and asking for his land back.
(Re. this torture/ state terrorism/ genocide case against US-backed Guatemalan officials, see posting of Tuesday, February 5, 2008, “As US Votes on Who Will Hold the Trigger, Mayans Propagate Civilization.”).
How much land was it?, I asked him last night. Less than five acres, corn land.
But after all these years, he still wants it back, and wants to leave it to a surviving son.
When the army of his homeland entered his village they burned the 3-room schoolhouse (“They stole the roof!”) and cut and crushed the drinkable-water pipes. And as they raped, throat-sliced, and trigger-pulled their way through , they forced people onto the mountain — dodging US-arranged Israeli Galil bullets as they clambered upward, toward life.
They left behind land — which, in theory, is recoverable; the man was raising a fundamental point — but also much that cannot be gotten back, like a life without tormenting memories.
There was the time, for example, a woman recounted just now, that she snuck down from the mountain and found that “All that was left were the dogs, barking in the houses.”
Outside, elsewhere, there were fires, bad smells, smoke, some crying, still-living children, as well as her own mother, dead — dead as a result of policy.
“There arrived a great sadness, a great pain,” she said, “a pain that remains until this moment.”
She said that she had carried that two-decade torment to Spain and that on this formal, legal, occasion, “This is the moment that we take out our pain,” and seek justice from society.
ALLAN NAIRN can be reached through his blog.