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North American Justice Promoters Carry Latin American Message to SOA March
Justice Promoters in North and South America Meet to Remember Victims of Genocide, Resist Violence

Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian)
North American Co-Promoter for Justice and Peace

GUATEMALA, CA - December 3, 2007--- he week of November 11-16, 2007, North American Dominican Co-Promoters of Justice and Peace, Chuck Dahm, OP and  Durstyne Farnan, OP, attended a very emotional and educational seminar in Guatemala at the invitation the Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters of Latin America.

Survivors with Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian)

All members of the Dominican Family were represented, laity, youth, religious, friars and members of a Dominican secular institute. We came from Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Argentina, Panama, Guatemala and U.S.A.

We gathered in Guatemala City for a day and then traveled to the villages of Chichupac and Plan de Sanchez in the municipality of Rabinal in the Guatemalan highlands in order to recover memories of a terrible massacre there 25 years ago. Our Dominicans are walking and working with the surviving members of this genocide.

 In 1993, the UN Truth Commission concluded that genocide was committed against the local Maya-Achi population there. In 1996, the people filed a case of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica. On April 24, 2004 the Court found the Guatemalan government responsible for these crimes. 317 families were to receive $25,000 each in reparations; however, nothing has yet been distributed.

The seminar began with a presentation on the significance of memory. The massacres happened from 1981-1984 and the Mayan’s have been relatively silent until now. They say that “The death of the people still bleeds.”

Mission San Jose Domincians attending the meeting

The road between truth and peace is a difficult one.  None of the perpetrators have asked for forgiveness for the deaths in Plan de Sanchez, a small town outside Rabinal where 184 people were massacred. Their names are inscribed in the chapel built in their memory. Rabinal itself is sometimes described as a clandestine cemetery.

A series of exhumations have taken place and a proper burial made for the people. No one can silence the shouts of those exhumed. The friars say all the stories of the people are in their homes. They talk with their dead, dream with the dead, and interact with the dead. The dead go to Mass with them as the communion of saints is read. At every Mass there is a prayer for the dead and disappeared.  Once a month a special Mass for those massacred lasts more than three hours as all names of the dead are read in the form of a litany.  

The people’s story is one of resistance and martyrdom. The Cross takes on new meaning: a power that transforms victims to martyrs.

Other topics pursued over the week focused on the political and economic history and present reality of Guatemala, the feminization of violence, the role of the Dominican family now and during the massacre, especially the assassination of Carlos Morales Lopez, OP, as well as a reflection on the life and death of Bishop Gerardi, the founder of the Archdiocesan Human Rights Office and the force behind its investigation and report on the massacres that brought about his assassination by military officers on April 26, 1998.  (For a moving account of his work, assassination and trial of his assassins, read Francesco Goodman, The Art of Political Murder, 2007)

As we prepared to leave Guatemala for the demonstration against the School of Americas at Ft. Benning in Columbus, Georgia, the Latin American Dominican Justice and Peace Committee wrote a denunciation of WHINSEC, Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation.  Fr. Chuck translated the document which was read from the stage on Saturday at Ft. Benning. This was the first time an official voice of the Latin American Dominicans spoke out at the demonstration.

Let us continue to pray for our Dominican brothers and sisters as they guide their people through the healing of memories. They live! Never again!  Presente. Nunca mas

Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian)
North American Co-Promoter for Justice and Peace


Read Doris Regan's account of the meeting in Guatemala

Dominicans in Latin American Call for Closure of School Of the Americas (Read their statement)

Dominicans Add Their Voices to Call for School Closure

" The road between Truth and Peace is a difficult one."

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