The Rabinal region suffered terribly during Guatemala’s civil war – there were four massacres in 1982 alone. Local people have exhumed several of the mass graves that pepper the hillsides and reburied some of the 4400 victims from the municipality, in an effort to give those killed during la violencia a more dignified resting place. In 2004, the Inter-American Court ordered the Guatemalan government to pay US$8 million as compensation to the surviving families of one massacre. The legal battle continues but the army generals who directed the campaign of terror have hitherto escaped justice, though three PUC (paramilitary conscripts) and four Kaibiles (special forces) were jailed in 2011 for their roles in the massacres. In December 2011 President Colom apologized to relatives of the victims of the 1982 Dos Erres massacre near Rabinal, calling it “a stain on Guatemala’s history”.

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