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Testifying on Guatemala’s Scorched Earth Policy

Last week we were in Madrid, testifying in the Spanish National Court as an expert witness in the Guatemalan genocide case. Kate Doyle has a great overview at "Unredacted." Here's what she wrote about my testimony:

Finally, Pamela Yates, documentary film director and co-founder of Skylight Pictures, provided spell-bounding testimony about her experience filming in Guatemala during the height of the repression during the first half of 1982. The trip resulted in the groundbreaking documentary “When the Mountains Tremble,” but also produced hours of footage not included in the final film. Pam described for Judge Pedraz the consequences of the scorched earth campaign as she witnessed them: accompanying military combat missions into the Mayan regions of the country, interviewing Gen. Benedicto Lucas García and Ríos Montt, and filming a massacre site in Chajul, Quiché in May 1982. As she spoke, she screened selected clips from the film and the additional footage, including interviews she did with the defendants, among other military officers. One of the most striking moments in the testimony came in a clip of Maya-Ixil women grieving for family members killed moments before the film crew arrived. Although the soldiers told the film makers that guerrillas had carried out the massacre, the women shouted into the camera that the soldiers were responsible. Perhaps the soldiers leaning on their weapons nearby didn’t understand Ixil, or perhaps they thought the US film makers wouldn’t have the wherewithal to translate the Mayan language. They were wrong.  

We also filmed at the hearing as part of Granito, our film in development. Definitely read the rest of Kate's informative article at "Unredacted."

Pamela Yates

Pamela Yates is a an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder/Creative Director of Skylight Pictures, a company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.

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