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Guatemala: Whether members of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, PAC) of the civil war of the 1980s are being targeted by former guerrillas or anyone else (2002)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 2 October 2002
Citation / Document Symbol GTM40160.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Guatemala: Whether members of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, PAC) of the civil war of the 1980s are being targeted by former guerrillas or anyone else (2002), 2 October 2002, GTM40160.E, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

No information regarding the targeting of PAC members could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following provides information about the PAC and their current activity in Guatemala.

According to the Guatemala News Update:

The PAC were designed and established in 1981 during the regime of Gen. Romeo Lucas García and institutionalized by his successor Gen. Efrain Rios Montt as an element of counterinsurgency and intelligence and to eliminate those engaging in political activities in opposition to the government. The PAC thus became an integral part of military's counterinsurgency plans to consolidate military control over the population in which all able-bodied males over sixteen years of age in any given community in rural Guatemala were forced to go on 24-hour patrols, once or twice each week, to protect the communities from guerrilla penetration and to eradicate the growing guerrilla movement. Patrollers were often forced to beat or kill their neighbors, for fear of themselves being branded as subversive. According to some analysts, members of the PAC committed some of the worst human rights violations during the country's internal conflict, including massacres of entire villages (July 2002).

AI stated that the UN Peace Accords of 1996 "provided for the patrols [PAC] to be disbanded, but in fact, they have continued to operate in various areas of the country and have allegedly been responsible for new abuses" (26 Sept. 2002).

Various human rights organizations have reported that former members of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, PAC) have regrouped and are demanding compensation for work done during Guatemala's civil war of the 1980s (AI 26 Sept. 2002; HRW 22 Aug. 2002; Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 26 July 2002).

The Guardian Unlimited reported that PAC members want US $2,500 each for "services rendered to the fatherland" (25 July 2002). To this end, the PAC have staged protests and carried out various acts of intimidation and abuse:

On 17 June 2002, "about 8,000 ex-paramilitary fighters [PAC] blocked roads in northern Guatemala," and "blocked the access roads around Peten's airport, causing all flights to be halted indefinitely for security reasons" (AP 17 June 2002). In addition, the PAC blocked "access to the famous Mayan ruins at Tikal ... stranding 62 tourists" (Washington Post 28 July 2002).

The PAC have been accused of "taking part in intelligence gathering operations and instigating lynchings in remote villages" (Guardian Unlimited 25 July 2002). In addition, AI has stated that the PAC

have threatened that they will occupy and burn local offices of the Human Rights Procurator's office if their demands for recompense for their patrol service during the conflict are not fully met (26 Sept. 2002).

Please refer to GTM34929.E of 24 July 2000, GTM32699.E of 28 September 1999, and GTM30586.E of 30 November 1998 for more information regarding the PAC.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 26 September 2002. "Guatemala: Civil Patrollers Hold Human Rights Institutions to Ransom." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Associated Press (AP). 17 June 2002. "Ex-Paramilitary Protest in Guatemala." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Guardian Unlimited. 25 July 2002. "Guatemalan Militia to Get Massacre Reward." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Guatemala News Update [Guatemala City]. July 2002. "Compensation Proposal to Former Members of the Civil Defense Patrols (PAC) Draws Criticism." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 22 August 2002. "Guatemala: Political Violence Unchecked." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 26 July 2002. "Inter-American Commission Concern Over the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Washington Post. 28 July 2002. Kevin Sullivan. "Intimidation in Guatemala." [Accessed 1 Oct. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Internet sites

Feedom House

Guatemala Hoy [Guatemala City]

Guatemala Post [Guatemala City]

Guatemala Solidarity Network

Search engine


Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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