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U.N. Praises Guatemala Accord

December 3, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Guatemala’s 2-year-old peace agreement has performed remarkably well in easing the hatreds built up over three decades of civil war and in reducing human rights violations, a United Nations official said Thursday.

But Jean Arnault, director of the U.N. Verification Mission in Guatemala, said the country has yet to implement the military and judicial reforms promised under the agreement that ended the civil war between a military establishment known for ruthlessness and a leftist guerrilla movement.

Guatemalan authorities failed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the December 1996 agreement in these areas and have wasted the past two years, Arnault told a gathering at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

While expressing disappointment over the Guatemala’s high rate of common crime and continued high unemployment, Arnault nonetheless said the agreement has brought significant benefits.

``It has been notably successful in preventing a resumption of conflict,″ he said. He added that the agreement’s success ``has been remarkable in the face of what had happened over the previous 35 years.″

Arnault said he was unaware of any cases of army reprisals against leftist rebels over the past two years or vice versa.

A report released by a Catholic Church human rights office earlier this year blamed the army for nearly 80 percent of the estimated 150,000 deaths in the civil war, mostly unarmed civilians.

The first war crimes convictions stemming from the war were handed down Monday when three former pro-government fighters were sentenced to death for their role in a 1982 massacre of Indian villagers.

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