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Surviving the 1986 Desembarco

Faustina narrates her experience during the 1986 invasion, during which people were intimidated, tortured, and killed by the military.


It was about 6 a.m. when we heard the buzzing of the helicopters right in front of the hill we were on, really close.  While some [soldiers] were close to there, others falling... So when I saw a few of them on the road, where I lived, close to the street that goes to Teosinte, They running at us, pointing their guns at us. I thought to myself "My day has come."  But they just said "Go, go ahead, go uphill". They said "Go towards the square, go towards the square because we want you all there."

We didn't even get a chance to get ready, to get some water, or anything else.  Tito was very young and I couldn't even grab his bottle. I'd given all of them a bottle.  So I couldn't even grab his bottle... so we all went there. They didn't kill us, they just pointed their guns at us, and when we got up there, they had all the younger men together. For example, Tito's dad, who was young, was there with Reina's dad. I could see them all, they were so—you could just see tremendous sadness in them.  They were really sad.

There were groups of people here and there, and we realized they were torturing people in other rooms.  They wouldn't let us out so that we wouldn't see anything. They told us to go inside the church. Some stayed outside and others went inside; women and children inside the church, inside the temple.  But there were some who went outside and noticed they were torturing people in other rooms.  There were a lot of houses around the square that were empty. They say one of my brothers-in-law was hung up and they drew a cross on his chest with a bayonet.  I believe this is when they took him, I don't know... but in that invasion they murdered five people.

First, they made us all march around the church. Everyone. Women, men, and everyone. We started parading around the church. But why?  Because there were people inside rooms pointing other people out as they marched by. Then they'd take them out, that's how they killed those people.  So whoever got pointed out would be taken out of the column they were in.  But we didn't think about that. We didn't realize until after that they were picking people out.  

They kept us there until noon, while somewhere else they stole candy from local stores to give the children so that they would like them. The children were separated and the women were separated. The young men were also separated. Since some of the soldiers were known to people here in Arcatao, people would tell them, "Don't do anything to these people, we know them."  There were some soldiers we knew, and we also knew some of the people who were singling others out.  But we realized that they took one person away--actually they took several.  But one of them who was in the back, his wife went after him and they didn't kill him because of that.  She rescued him, because she went after him, and they listened to her and didn't kill him. But the others they took away to kill on the outskirts of Arcatao.