When Secrets Kill

My husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, or "Everardo," was a Mayan leader of the resistance movement in Guatemala for some 17 years. He was captured alive by the Guatemalan military on March 12, 1992. Because of his extensive information and experience, army intelligence officials decided to subject him to long-term torture to break him psychologically and force him to talk. In order to avoid international human rights outcry, the officers falsely announced that he had been killed in combat.

I learned of Everardo's true plight when a young prisoner escaped in early 1993. I spent the next several years attempting to save my husband's life, including three dangerous hunger strikes. Throughout this period, I met repeatedly with State Department officials, who assured me, as well as Congress, that they had no information but would do everything they could to help. In March 1995 I learned that Everardo had been executed without trial by a Guatemalan officer who was also a paid CIA informant.

In the ensuing uproar, a number of government files were declassified and additional witnesses came forward. The reports show that the CIA had indeed informed the State Department some six days after Everardo's capture that he was a prisoner in army hands and that the military would probably falsify his death in order to better take advantage of his intelligence value.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 2002
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