Mark Karlin reports: By academic pedigree and personal background, Jennifer Harbury should be among the ruling elite in the US. She is a graduate of Cornell and Harvard Law School, in fact receiving her law degree from Harvard just a few years before Barack Obama. Instead of following the path of most of her classmates to money and power, she became a legal aid attorney in Texas.
As part of her interest in human rights, she traveled to Guatemala in the early ’90s to write a book, “Bridge to Courage: Life Stories of Guatemalan Compañeros & Compañeras.” It was at that time she met, fell in love with and married Everardo (Efraín Bámaca Velásquez), who was a commandante in the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity Front. He was fighting against the US-backed military and government, which was committing genocide against the indigenous population and the poor (ending in more than 200,000 dead – and countless more tortured, but released).
In 1992, Everardo was captured by the Guatemalan military. Harbury demanded to know the whereabouts of her husband and held a hunger strike in front of the Clinton White House, which was covered by the media and made into a national story by “60 Minutes.” Harbury’s request was simple: she wanted the State Department or CIA to tell her what had happened to her husband. But both agencies didn’t acknowledge they knew of his whereabouts.
In an interview with Truthout, Harbury recounted:
After a year of trying to find out what had really happened to him, a young prisoner escaped from the army torture program and reported that Everardo was alive and being severely tortured. After my third hunger strike to save his life, in March 1995, then New Jersey Senator Toricelli disclosed that official US documents indicated that he had been killed by Guatemalan officers on the CIA payroll.
After receiving many files at last through the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], it became clear that the State Department and the CIA had known where Everardo was and that he was in the hands of our own CIA liaisons or assets, since the week of his capture. They also knew approximately 300 other secret prisoners of war were suffering the same fate. The files show that all these prisoners were tortured to death, thrown down wells, out of helicopters, etc., yet the truth was only revealed to us in 1995. By then all were dead. We could have saved them.
In fact, Everardo, Harbury discovered, was kept in a body cast to keep him constrained while he was tortured for more than two years before being executed, all the time with the full knowledge and likely operational involvement of the CIA. [Continue reading…]