Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Asylum Granted to Guatemalan Massacre Survivor

A survivor of one of the worst massacres in Guatemalan history was reportedly granted political asylum in the U.S. 

According to the lawyer for 33-year-old Oscar Ramirez Castañeda, his client won his asylum request after proving that he was one of only two known survivors of the infamous Dos Erres massacre. 

"Oscar is very, very grateful to get asylum, which means he can remain in the United States with his wife and their four children," Scott Greathead said to Reuters yesterday. "And if he hadn't gotten it, his prospects would have been very, very dangerous in Guatemala because he is so implicated in these cases against members of the Guatemalan military”.

Castañeda was only three-years-old in 1982 when a Guatemalan special forces unit searching for rebels murdered 250 villagers.  He was subsequently kidnapped and raised by an army lieutenant, and he’s currently a restaurant manager in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Castañeda’s mother and eight siblings were among the victims of the incident that occurred in the midst of Guatemala’s decades-long civil war.  His father, who for many years believed that his son had perished, reunited with Castañeda after DNA tests proved that they were related.

While Castañeda received excellent news regarding his immigration status the same cannot be said for one of the suspected perpetrators of the Dos Erres massacre.

Jorge Sosa appeared at a U.S. District court on Monday where he faced charges of immigration fraud.   

The 54-year-old Sosa allegedly led the “Kabiles” military unit behind the Dos Erres massacre and had escaped prosecution for three decades.  For years he served as a martial arts instructor in Calgary until he was arrested by Canadian authorities in January and then extradited to the U.S.

Sosa has yet to be charged with war crimes though a 2009 federal grand jury indictment linked him to the massacre.

Video Source– YouTube via ProPublica

Online Sources – NBC Chicago, Reuters

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