Colombia and Guatemala Trip Part 3

In May, 2005 Peaceful Tomorrows members Patricio Grehan and Sue Rosenblum traveled to sites in Colombia and Guatemala in support of the Spanish-language edition of the Peaceful Tomorrows book, making new connections with NGOs and individuals affected by terrorism, violence and war. These diaries were filed during and after their trips. This is part 3, written by Patricio Grehan.

From Patricio Grehan, Buenos Aires, May 25, 2005

Dear Friends of Peaceful Tomorrows,

I’ve returned home, and would like to share my experiences in Guatemala. At the beginning, we separated in order to visit and to make contact with two different sectors: Sue and Juan met with organizations and victims from  Guatemala City; I spent the first days listening to the experiences of the town of Santa Maria de Chiquimula, four hours from there, in the heart of the Kiché people, one of the most important Mayan communities, that was massacred by the Army. Among others, I was with Ricardo Falla, a Guatemalan anthropologist who lived for several years among the towns that were being attacked by the army. He wrote a book (that took Sue is sending to PT) called “Massacres in the Jungle”. It tells the stories of the different registered massacres.

Thursday 19th,  we had a very intense day. I joined Sue and Juan in Guatemala City for a  press conference where we presented the book in Spanish, and there was much interest from the press. Sue gave a wonderful testimony about her son, Joshua, and his experience of pain (Joshua and Pedro, my brother, both worked at Cantor Fitzgerald). The experience was similar to the emotions felt by the women of the town of katchiquel when the bodies of their husbands were exhumed.  In spite of the difficulties of the language (the woman did not speak Spanish, and it was necessary to translate from katchiquel to Spanish, and from Spanish to English; then Sue spoke in English and was necessary to translate the other way around); they were understood! The pain eliminates distances and the shared experience generates COMMUNION and closeness.

After Sue returned to South Florida,  Juan and I had a very important meeting with the “National Program of Compensation”, run by NGOs and the state of Guatemala. It takes responsibility to repair and repay the victims who underwent the massacres. It seems to me that they have made an excellent proposal that includes several different and connected tasks:

–To repair the psycho-social damage done to the victims by the armed conflict

–To dignify to the victims, by acknowledging the truth, to helping the families to find the rest of their relatives, to make monuments in their memories, etc.

–To acknowledge the value, practice and right of cultural identity, such as the use of one’s own language, ancestral spirituality, traditional medicine, art, and ancestral dress

–To repair the damage caused to the victims: to study and  support old people, men and women who were unprotected

–To return the lands and housing of victims lost internally as a result of the armed conflict

The effort to fortify the peace process on these countries seemed very important, from the viewpoint of RECONCILIATION. Through this process, the state can generate conditions for creating better relationships in society. In Latin America, it has been always a temptation for the countries that have lived through conflicts of this type to look for national peace through amnesty processes, which deny the “lived reality.” That negation of reality, without examining the consequences of the violence and the conflict, has tended to increase the cycle of violence, and cause history to repeat itself.  Finally, we were reunited with the “Culture of Peace” Program of UNESCO, along with another NGO, Intrapaz.  All of these connections have affirmed:

–The deep communion shared by the victims, who when they connect at the “gut level,” demonstrate the depth of humanity that unites them

–The wisdom that emerges from the pain of the victims when their experiences are amplified, transforming those they come in contact with, and making the them conscious of their experiences.

–I believe deeply that one of the contributions PT makes is to create a systematic understanding of this “wisdom of the pain” possessed by victims of violence, and in doing so, to make a contribution to other people and societies.

Also, I believe that these two towns, Medellín and Guatemala, with their organizations, are strategic partners for us as we continue to deepen an alliance that has allowed us to make their experiences more visible, and to enrich both of us– not only by learning about the pain experienced over such a long time, but also about the efforts being made to promote life and recovery.

Best wishes,


Here is a writing from Patricio inspired by his South American journeys:

Basta de estar acostumbrados!

Otra vez nos horrorizamos…

La muerte loca nos ha ensangrentado a todas y todos…

“En el tren íbamos todos” reza un cartel de la manifestación por la paz

Son miles las imágenes que nos vienen ante tanta muerte y dolor

Septiembre 11, las búsquedas de las víctimas que no son una lista de nombres

Nos golpea en la cara, nos sorprende y sobrecoge

Vuelve Pedro a estar “missing”, a no estar,

Volvemos a buscarte en hospitales y esquinas.

Te vemos en esos rostros españoles e inmigrantes de Atocha

Vuelve a ser hoy cuando mirábamos perplejos y paralizados los aviones

Estrellándose en las oficinas, ahí donde vos y muchos trabajaban

Vamos también nosotros en esos trenes cargados de manos trabajadoras

Y jóvenes soñando futuro.

Somos UNO en el dolor compartido!

La humanidad que nos ha quedado se vuelve a reunir para decir BASTA!!


Ahora me pregunto….

Si las bombas y atentados, en las Torres y en los Trenes,

Fueran todos los días… ¿no terminaríamos acostumbrados?

No pasarían a las páginas interiores de los diarios?

Quizás tendrían su propia sección especializada, el quinto o sexto suplemento semanal…

Porque hoy nos horrorizan los 11, septiembre y marzo

Nos horrorizan a todos, nos duelen bien adentro,

Es nuestro tu dolor español que no nos es ya ajeno

Seguro que no lo es para nosotras y nosotros, que hemos perdido hermanos, hermanas,

esposas, esposos, hijas, hijos, padres, madres, allá en New York…

Pero si somos honestos, alguna vez, con nuestra humanidad voraz del consumo y la muerte…

No nos hemos acaso acostumbrado a OTRAS BOMBAS Y ATENTADOS?

¿Cuántas víctimas sangran cada día en nuestros países por los atentados de la injusticia?

Se llame como se llame:

planes económicos, riquezas concentradas,

pueblos negados, Occidente Omnipotente…


¡Basta de estar acostumbrados!

Que las bombas y el dolor nos despierten a todas y a todos!!

Es hora de volver a quedar perplejos y horrorizados…

Cuando te vemos, HUMANIDAD UNA, estallar en pedazos

En las bombas y en las márgenes

En las guerras y en las culturas despojadas

En las Torres y en los jóvenes vacíos de esperanza

En los Trenes y en las manos flacas de trabajadores sin pan para la casa


Eso sí, que también dejemos de estar acostumbrados

A que nos hablen de paz los que ordenan matanzas,

Aunque sean votadas por ambas cámaras parlamentarias

Manchadas de petróleo, impregnadas de pólvora

Sucias de miedos protegidos en sus fueros y poderes


Patricio Grehan

Hermano de Pedro Grehan,

muerto en el piso 105, Torre Norte WTC, Septiembre 11 de 2001


For part 1 featuring Patricio Grehan’s diary, visit:

For part 2 featuring Sue Rosenblum’s diary, visit:

Filed in: Civilian Casualties, International Terrorism, Patricio Grehan, Torture and Challenges to Human Rights

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