MARCH 13, 1982


During the 1970s energy crisis, the Guatemalan government created the state-owned National Institute of Electrification (INDE). In 1975, INDE unveiled plans to dam the Rio Negro (also Chixoy) River and flood the river valley. In 1981, the government began destroying Indigenous villages & relocating communities into villages monitored by the army that also provided cheap labor to neighboring towns. The government also created Civil Defense Patrols (CDP) of armed locals. In February 1982, several villagers were murdered by the CDP in Xococ, a village near Rio Negro. One woman escaped & warned the other villagers. The men fled to the hills believing that the women & children would not be harmed. In mid-March, that CDP came to Rio Negro and massacred 177 women & children. In May, 84 more people were killed and 15 women were abducted. Then, in September, 92 villagers were burned alive. Of Rio Negro’s almost 800 Maya-Achí inhabitants, 444 were killed in the massacres between 1980 and 1982.

Source: “Rio Negro Massacres,” Guatemala Human Rights Commission.  Retrieved 6/7/2021, Rio Negro Massacres « Guatemala Human Rights Commission (
Photo: Renata Avila, 7/15/2007.  Memorial.  Permissive Use.

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