Dos Erres - A Massacre

A village was wiped out.

This man was 5 years old when the US-trained forces slaughtered every single one of his family members.  His parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were all wiped out in a massacre in Dos Erres, Guatemala.

In fact, only four people from his town survived the massacre.  Two other boys, and a man who was out of town when the soldiers came.   Yes. They wiped out an entire village.

In the midst of the cold war, Guatemalan President, Efraín Ríos Montt, ordered the military to smoke out everyone who may have harbored the leftist group FAR. On December 6, 1982, the 20 people from the army came, with American-supplied weapons, trained in a US base, set up a perimeter outside this village. Everyone was forbidden to go in and out of this village.

 40 more soldiers, once again, trained, funded and armed by the US came into the village. These soldiers claimed that FAR had stolen weapons and they wanted to fully search the village. After a thorough search, the soldiers found zero weapons in the village. The villagers were unarmed and defenseless. The soldiers seperated the villagers. The commander ordered the soldiers to "vaccinate" the villagers.

They forced all the men of the village (except the one who was out of town) into a school house. They forced all the women and children into two churches.  The next part is so supremely evil, I feel I must give a content warning. One of the former soldiers confessed that infants were killed first by smashing their head with a sledgehammer.  And according to Guatemala's Truth commission report

 Some of the specialists raped young girls. Then the soldiers for two days killed most of the men and women with sledgehammers and firearms and threw their bodies into the well. The few left alive were held in the churches and the school. On the nights of December 7 and 8, the men who were still alive were taken to the mountain, where their throats were slit, killing the last of the inhabitants, except for one boy who had hid in the bushes and managed to save himself.

If you think the US Government was unaware, diplomatic cables prove otherwise. They fully knew what was going on. 

In total 627 villages were wiped out between 1980-1983. If you look at satellite imagery, you can see vegetation growing back in villages where there used to be people.


After writing this article, I have come to learn at least one perpetrator has been sent to prison for his role in Dos Erres.

If you want to learn more about the atrocities in Guatemala, please listen to our podcast episode about Guatemala’s Forgotten Genocide