At the time of the massacre, the village or hamlet of Los Josefinos, which consisted of a small urban
center of approximately 82 homesteads, was largely inhabited by non-indigenous population and organized by
the Army under the PAC system. On the morning of April 29, 1982, armed guerrillas entered Los Josefinos and
captured the military commissioner Manuel Galdámez and Juan Carlos Calderón. After a meeting with the
village residents, two gunshots were heard and the dead bodies of Galdámez and Calderón were later found
dumped on the western side of the community. That afternoon, the guerrillas and the Army clashed at a nearby
location, where the Army suffered several casualties. At around 7:00 p.m., the inhabitants began to hear the
sound of armored personnel carriers and trucks surrounding the village. Around midnight, Army personnel
stormed Los Josefinos on foot, firing at the patrol members who were on guard at the village entrance and
killing at least five of them. They then proceeded indiscriminately to execute anyone they found in the roadway
and set fire to homes. They went from house to house, shooting, cutting people’s throats, and beating men,
women and children.
While there is no absolute certainty on the number of people executed in the massacre, based on
information obtained by FAMDEGUA, it is estimated that at least 28 adults and 14 children were killed. Those
who managed to escape, fled into the nearby bush. In their haste to get away some were separated from their
relatives, and their fate is unknown. At least three individuals were captured by the Army and there has been
no word of them ever since; therefore, it is alleged that they were victims of forced disappearance. In addition,
another eight individuals who survived the massacre, including two children, are still unaccounted for. Some
of the survivors died during the escape, succumbing to their wounds or the harsh conditions. Those who
returned to Los Josefinos the following day found corpses charred or strewn around the village, and their
homes, livestock, and property, stolen, burnt, or destroyed. The Army assigned a number people to dig a mass
grave where the corpses of some of the victims, collected with a tractor, were buried without identification,
ceremony, or the participation of family members, after which the Army ordered everyone present to abandon
the village. The survivors were subjected to threats and harassment, forcing them to flee and settle in other
parts of the country or abroad.
The State of Guatemala did not undertake an ex officio investigation of the events. Although the
survivors identified soldiers belonging to the Army of Guatemala as those responsible for the deeds, they say
that they did not dare to report them right away for fear of reprisals. It was only after the peace negotiations
began on January 15, 1996, that FAMDEGUA requested the exhumation of the corpses buried in the mass grave
with a view to gathering evidence in advance of judicial proceedings and accompanying it with notarized
declarations. Between March 1996 and March 1997, the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Team (EAFG)
exhumed the remains buried in the mass grave and an investigation was formally opened. Following a number
of investigative procedures, the case remained inactive until May 2005, when the Supreme Court requested a
certification of the process to forward to the IACHR. That resulted in the partial reactivation of the investigation,
which remains open and unfinished to this day.
As to the law, the petitioners argue that the State of Guatemala is responsible for violation of the rights
to life and humane treatment, together with the attendant procedural obligations, in accordance with Articles
4 (1) and 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the "American Convention”, or the
“Convention”), taken in conjunction with Article 1 (1) thereof, as a result of the extrajudicial execution of at
least 42 people, the disappearance of 8 others, and its failure of its duty to ensure rights by reason of the lack
of a diligent and effective investigation and prosecution of those responsible, in relation not only to the deeds
committed by the Army, but also those committed by the guerrillas. The petitioners also allege that Guatemala
is responsible for the forced disappearance of at least three people, in violation of the rights recognized in
Articles 3, 4 (1), 5 (1), 5 (2), and 7 of the Convention, taken in conjunction with Article 1 (1) thereof, as well as
in Articles I.a and I.b of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons (IACFDP).
Guatemala is also alleged to have violated the right to non-interference in private life and the family and the
right not to be forcibly displaced, in breach Articles 11 (2), 21 (1) and (2), and 22 (1-5) of the Convention. The
State also allegedly failed to protect the families that were broken up as a result of the massacre, in violation of
the right recognized in Article 17 of the Convention.


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