May all Guatemalans, especially Mayans, live in peace and harmony. Just on the other side of the border the roadsides were jammed with thousands of Guatemalans loudly cheering, waving the Guatemalan flag. It was very chilly, and my sleeping bag was almost inadequate.
But the returnees who were assigned to military type tents refused to use them — too many raw memories — demanding that they be dismantled and more civilian tents be brought in. And again the roadsides were filled with the cheers and shouts of Guatemalans welcoming refugees home. The folks on my bus went on to locations where land was made available to them in the Ixcan a northern part of Alta Verpaz. As he describes in this article, served as an accompanier with Witness for Peace in Latin America. I remember it so well because my bus companions from San Miguel Acatan and I were left without a tent, leaving the possibility of trying to sleep in the chilly night air. My part of the accompaniment was over, though frankly I have to admit that I was just too weary to go any further — considering as well the rains and mud on the roads. The caravan finally reached Guatemala City, and the returnees assembled in the plaza in front of the Cathedral. Thousands of cheering people shouted their chants. The day after the arrival in Guatemala City, the refugees I was accompanying then began another piece of their return, a five hour ride to Coban, Alta Verpaz, and to their final destinations in the Ixcan. Even as I write this I choke with tears that flowed abundantly that day on the Guatemalan side of the border. It was very chilly, and my sleeping bag was almost inadequate. They wanted international accompaniers with them on their buses as they returned to Guatemala. Their memories of horrors committed by the Guatemalan military made them fearful of what could happen as they returned. The leadership of the returnees demanded that those military personnel leave, and with international observers present like WFP the military eventually left. In fact, the WFP delegation scholarship fund is named after Jim. But the fears of returning refugees were understandable. But with WFP and other accompaniers boarding in pairs to accompany those buses, the convoy departed Comitan, Chiapas, early one morning. Not only that, but as medical help was provided by the Guatemalan government, the refugees discovered that some of the doctors and nurses were military people, suspected of being infiltrators. All went peacefully all the way to the border with Guatemala. Eventually many other refugees would return in a similar way. As the bus caravan snaked through the mountains, all along the way hundreds of people lined the road sides. The caravan stopped on the Mexican side of the border, checked papers, etc. May all Guatemalans, especially Mayans, live in peace and harmony. The following day, the bus caravan began its continuing journey toward Guatemala City — a long drive. Jim Flynn during one of his many trips to Latin America. All went well for the one hour trip from the border to the city of Huehuetenango where caravanistas would spend the night in tents erected by the government.
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MOVING BACK TO GUATEMALA - PART 1
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