TROMSØ, Norway -- This summer, under the leadership of multi-talented artist Lisandro Guarcax, the group called Sotz'il took part in the Riddu Riddu Festival. On 25 August Lisandro Guarcax was abducted. The next day he was found assassinated and his body showed clear signs of torture.
Expectations were running high this summer when Riddu Riddu received a visit from the famous group of performing artists "Sotz'il". This theatre, dance and music group comes from the village of El Tablón in the municipality of Sololá. Led by Lisandro Guarcax, the group lived up to all expectations.
Lisandro Gurcax was far more than just an artist. He was also the rector of a primary school in Chuacruz with 500 pupils. Chuacruz is a very poor area of Solola where nearly 100 per cent of the inhabitants are Mayan indians.
On Wednesday, 25 August, Lisandro was on his way to a parent-teacher meeting in the his father Anastasio´s car. He was stopped and abducted. His father then got a phone call from a stranger who was using his son´s telephone. The message was clear: unless a substantial amount of money was paid immediately, Lisandro would be killed.
The Norwegian embassy in Guatemala was made aware of the abduction through Lisandro´s father, and tried to help find a solution. The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was brought into the case. The Commission immediately dispatched investigators from Guatemala City to Solola to follow up, but Lisandro had been found dead by the time they arrived.
It is not clear who is behind the assassination of Lisandro Gurcax. However, this is not the first time that a champion of Mayan culture has been assassinated. In May 2009, two other members of the Jay Sotz'il Cultural Centre, Guarcax Ernesto and Carlos Emilio were found murdered. A bulletin issued after the murder of Lisandro Guarcax states:
”The intention is to overshadow and choke the artistic work done by the Mayan people in our country.”
We can do no more than speculate about who murdered Guarcax. Having said that, for a long time, powerful forces in Guatemala have wanted to put an end to activists who champion Mayan culture.
When Gurcax was found on 26 August, he exhibited clear signs of having been tortured.