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A Name on a Cross,
The Story of a Victim




School of the Americas — 'Torture U' (Main Story)


Rank-and-File Initiative Secures Bus, Builds Coalition



The web has a number of sites carrying information about Myrna Mack's brutal murder and efforts to bring those responsible to justice. Click on the following links to search the web for related stories using either Google or Northern Light.


The Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights posted a press release concerning the admission by Guatemala of its role in a "host of human rights cases" including that of Myrna Mack on its website.



School of the America's -
The Ultimate Union Buster
(UE Policy)


Visit the School of the Americas Watch website  at


John Lambiase

John Lambiase

Protestors who march on Fort Benning carry crosses, each inscribed with the names of victims of graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. John Lambiase became curious about the name on the cross he carried in last year’s protest — Myrna Mack — and took steps to uncover the story.

With the help of Robin Alexander, UE director of international labor affairs, this is what he learned.

Myrna Mack Chang was Guatemala’s leading anthropologist. She was internationally known for her study of the effects of her country’s civil war on indigenous people.

"Mack’s work was highly controversial in Guatemala," according to journalist Frank Smyth. "The country’s displaced population was created by the army’s ‘scorched earth’ counterinsurgency campaign, which began in the early 1980s. Tens of thousands of people — mostly Indians of Mayan descent — were killed. Up to 1 million more, in a country of fewer than 9 million, were uprooted."

The Guatemalan government was reluctant to acknowledge the consequences of its brutal warfare in the countryside. Mack researched the forced migration, documenting conditions and providing numbers.


A military death squad kept the petite 40-year-old under observation for weeks. On September 11, 1990, two days after her research was published in English, Mack was attacked outside of her Guatemala City office. She was stabbed 27 times.

Bringing her killers to trial quickly ran into difficulties. A month after Mack’s murder, the chief homicide investigator was gunned down. The slain anthropologist’s sister, Helen Mack, gained international support in her efforts to prosecute the killers.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Stroock, a friend of President George Bush from his days at Yale and a Bush appointee, asserted that the Mack murder was not politically motivated.

Eventually, on Feb. 12, 1993, a long investigation and trial concluded with the sentencing of Noel de Jesus Beteta Alvarez for Mack’s murder. Beteta was a sergeant specialist with the intelligence unit of the Presidential High Command. Although Beteta was implicated by testimony just six days after Mack’s murder, he was not arrested for nearly a year. The superior officers (two general and two colonels) believed to have orchestrated the assassination have not been tried for the crime.

In an unprecedented admission, the Guatemalan government in March of this year conceded its responsibility for the murder of Myrna Mack and failure to obtain justice in the case.

UE News - 12/00

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