During the more than three decades of conflict, the counterinsurgency gradually consumed the Guatemalan state. Unlawful imprisonments, torture, forced disappearances, and extra-judicial executions were common methods used by successive governments to deal not only with armed rebels but also with trade unionists, teachers, students, liberation theology missionaries, peasants, and indigenous leaders. In the rural peripheries, the military promoted a campaign of terror through collective killings and wanton destruction of the environment.
The most violent period of the conflict occurred during the governments of General Lucas García (1978–1982) and General Efrain Ríos Montt (1982–1983). The regions most severely affected are located in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Huehuetenango, and, above all, Quiché. In these areas the population is mostly formed of indigenous Maya communities, who were also the large majority of the victims.
Percentage of human rights violations committed by state security forces (1960–1996).
CEH reported 5,471 human rights violations between 1966 and 1996 across Guatemala.
Source: CEH Database