Guatemala 1962 to 1980s
A less publicized "final solution"
excerpted from the book
by William Blum
Indians tell harrowing stories of village raids in which their
homes have been burned, men tortured hideously and killed, women
raped, and scarce crops destroyed. It is Guatemala's final solution
to insurgency only mass slaughter of the Indians will prevent
them joining a mass uprising.
This newspaper item appeared in 1983. Very similar stories
have appeared many times in the world press since 1966, for Guatemala's
"final solution" has been going on rather longer than
the more publicized one of the Nazis.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the misery of the mainly-Indian
peasants and urban poor of Guatemala who make up three-quarters
of the population of this beautiful land so favored by American
tourists. The particulars of their existence derived from the
literature of this period sketch a caricature of human life. In
a climate where everything grows, very few escape the daily ache
of hunger or the progressive malnutrition ... almost half the
children die before the age of five ... the leading cause of death
in the country is gastroenteritis. Highly toxic pesticides sprayed
indiscriminately by airplanes, at times directly onto the heads
of peasants, leave a trail of poisoning and death ... public health
services in rural areas are virtually non-existent ... the same
for public education ... near-total illiteracy. A few hundred
families possess almost all the arable land ... thousands of families
without land, without work, jammed together in communities of
cardboard and tin houses, with no running water or electricity,
a sea of mud during the rainy season, sharing their bathing and
toilet with the animal kingdom. Men on coffee plantations earning
20 cents or 50 cents a day, living in circumstances closely resembling
concentration camps ... looked upon by other Guatemalans more
as beasts of burden than humans. A large plantation to sell, reads
the advertisement, "with 200 hectares and 300 Indians"
... this, then was what remained of the ancient Mayas, whom the
American archeologist Sylvanus Morely had called the most splendid
indigenous people on the planet.
The worst was yet to come.
... in 1960, nationalist elements of the Guatemalan military
who were committed to slightly opening the door to change were
summarily crushed by the CIA. Before long, the ever-accumulating
discontent again issued forth in a desperate lunge for alleviation-this
time in the form of a guerrilla movement-only to be thrown back
by a Guatemalan-American operation reminiscent of the Spanish
conquistadores in its barbarity.
In the early years of the 1960s, the guerrilla movement, with
several military officers of the abortive 1960 uprising prominent
amongst the leadership, was slowly finding its way: organizing
peasant support in the countryside, attacking an army outpost
to gather arms, staging a kidnapping or bank robbery to raise
money, trying to avoid direct armed clashes with the Guatemalan
Recruitment amongst the peasants was painfully slow and difficult;
people so drained by the daily struggle to remain alive have little
left from which to draw courage, people so downtrodden scarcely
believe they have the right to resist, much less can they entertain
thoughts of success; as fervent Catholics, they tend to believe
that their misery is a punishment from God for sinning.
In March 1962, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets
in protest against the economic policies, the deep-rooted corruption,
and the electoral fraud of the government of General Miguel Ydigoras
Fuentes. Initiated by students, the demonstrations soon picked
up support from worker and peasant groups. Police and military
forces eventually broke the back of the protests, but not before
a series of violent confrontations and a general strike had taken
The American military mission in Guatemala, permanently stationed
there, saw and heard in this, as in the burgeoning guerrilla movement,
only the omnipresent "communist threat". As US military
equipment flowed in, American advisers began to prod a less alarmed
and less-than-aggressive Guatemalan army to take appropriate measures.
In May the United States established a base designed specifically
for counter-insurgency training. (The Pentagon prefers the term
"counter-insurgency" to "counter-revolutionary"
because of the latter's awkward implications, yet up in the northeast
province of Izabal, which, together with adjacent Zacapa province,
constituted the area of heaviest guerrilla support, the installation
was directed by a team of US Special Forces (Green Berets) of
Puerto Rican and Mexican descent to make the North American presence
less conspicuous. The staff of the base was augmented by 15 Guatemalan
officers trained in counter-insurgency at the US School of the
Americas at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone.
American counter-insurgency strategy is typically based on
a carrot-and-stick philosophy. Accordingly, while the Guatemalan
military were being taught techniques of ambush, booby-traps,
jungle survival and search-and-destroy warfare, and provided with
aircraft and pilot training, a program of "civil action"
was begun in the northeast area: some wells were built, medicines
distributed, school lunches provided etc., as well as promises
of other benefits made, all aimed at stealing a bit of the guerrillas'
thunder and reducing the peasants' motivation for furnishing support
to them; and with the added bonus of allowing American personnel
to reconnoiter guerrilla territory under a non-military cover.
Land reform, overwhelmingly the most pressing need in rural Guatemala,
was not on the agenda.
As matters were to materialize, the attempt at "winning
the hearts and minds" of the peasants proved to be as futile
in Guatemala as it was in southeast Asia. When all the academic
papers on "social systems engineering" were in, and
all the counter-insurgency studies of the RAND Corporation and
the other think-tanks were said and done, the recourse was to
terror: unadulterated, dependable terror. Guerrillas, peasants,
students, labor leaders, and professional people were jailed or
killed by the hundreds to put a halt, albeit temporarily, to the
demands for reform.
The worst was yet to come.
In the period October 1966 to March 1968, Amnesty International
estimated, some where between 3,000 and 8,000 Guatemalans were
killed by the police, the military, right wing "death squads"
(often the police or military in civilian clothes, carrying out
atrocities too bloody for the government to claim credit for),
and assorted groups of civilian anti-communist vigilantes. By
1972, the number of their victims was estimated at 13,000. Four
years later the count exceeded 20,000, murdered or disappeared
without a trace.
Anyone attempting to organize a union or other undertaking
to improve the lot of the peasants, or simply suspected of being
in support of the guerrillas, was subject ... unknown armed men
broke into their homes and dragged them away to unknown places
... their tortured or mutilated or burned bodies found buried
in a mass grave, or floating in plastic bags in a lake or river,
or Iying beside the road, hands tied behind the back ... bodies
dropped into the Pacific from airplanes. In the Cualan area, it
was said, no one fished any more; too many corpses were caught
in the nets ... decapitated corpses, or castrated, or pins stuck
in the eyes ... a village rounded up, suspected of supplying the
guerrillas with men or food or information, all adult males taken
away, in front of their families, never to be seen again ... or
everyone massacred, the village bulldozed over to cover the traces
... seldom were the victims actual members of a guerrilla band.
One method of torture consisted of putting a hood filled with
insecticide over the head of the victim; there was also electric
shock-to the genital area is the most effective; in those days
it was administered by using military field telephones hooked
up to small generators; the United States supplied the equipment
and the instructions for use to several countries including South
Vietnam where the large-scale counter-insurgency operation was
producing new methods and devices for extracting information from
uncooperative prisoners; some of these techniques were finding
their way to Latin America.
The Green Berets taught their Guatemalan trainees various
methods of "interrogation", but they were not solely
classroom warriors. Their presence in the countryside was reported
frequently, accompanying Guatemalan soldiers into battle areas;
the line separating the advisory role from the combat role is
often a matter of public relations.
F-51(D) fighter planes modified by the United States for use
against guerrillas in ( Guatemala ... after modification, the
planes are capable of patrolling for five hours over a limited
area ... equipped with six .50-caliber machine guns and wing mountings
for bombs, napalm and 5-inch air-to-ground rockets. The napalm
falls on villages, on precious crops, on people ... American pilots
take off from Panama, deliver loads of napalm on targets suspected
of being guerrilla refuges, and return to Panama... the napalm
explodes like fireworks and a mass of brilliant red foam spreads
over the land, incinerating all that falls in its way, cedars
and pines are burned down to the roots, animals grilled, the earth
scorched ... the guerrillas will not have this place for a sanctuary
any longer, nor will they or anyone else derive food from it ...
halfway around the world in Vietnam, there is an instant replay.
In Vietnam they were called "free-fire zones"; in
Guatemala, "zonas libres': "Large areas of the country
have been declared off limits and then subjected to heavy bombing.
Reconnaissance planes using advanced photographic techniques fly
over suspected guerrilla country and jet planes, assigned to specific
areas, can be called in within minutes to kill anything that moves
on the ground.''
"The military guys who do this are like serial killers.
If Jeffrey Dahmer had been in Guatemala, he would be a general
by now." ... In Guatemala City, right-wing terrorists machine-gunned
people and houses in full light of day ... journalists, lawyers,
students, teachers, trade unionists, members of opposition parties,
anyone who helped or expressed sympathy for the rebel cause, anyone
with a vaguely leftist political association or a moderate criticism
of government policy ... relatives of the victims, guilty of kinship
... common criminals, eliminated to purify the society, taken
from jails and shot. "See a Communist, kill a Communist",
the slogan of the New Anticommunist Organization ... an informer
with hooded face accompanies the police along a city street or
into the countryside, pointing people out: who shall live and
who shall die ... "this one's a son of a bitch" ...
"that one ... " Men found dead with their eyes gouged
out, their testicles in their mouth, without hands or tongues,
women with breasts cut off ... there is rarely a witness to a
killing, even when people are dragged from their homes at high
noon and executed in the street ... a relative will choose exile
rather than take the matter to the authorities ... the government
joins the family in mourning the victim ...
The US Agency for International Development (AID), its Office
of Public Safety (OPS) and the Alliance for Progress were all
there to lend a helping hand. These organizations with their reassuring
names all contributed to a program to greatly expand the size
of Guatemala's national police force and develop it into a professionalized
body skilled at counteracting urban disorder. Senior police officers
and technicians were sent for training at the Inter-American Police
Academy in Panama, replaced in 1964 by the International Police
Academy in Washington, at a Federal School in Los Fresnos, Texas
(where they were taught how to construct and use a variety of
explosive devices ... and other educational establishments, their
instructors often being CIA officers operating under OPS cover.
This was also the case with OPS officers stationed in Guatemala
to advise local police commands and provide in-country training
for rank-and-file policemen. At times, these American officers
participated directly in interrogating political prisoners, took
part in polygraph operations, and accompanied the police on anti-drug
Additionally, the Guatemala City police force was completely
supplied with radio patrol cars and a radio communications network,
and funds were provided to build a national police academy and
pay for salaries, uniforms, weapons, and riot-control equipment.
The glue which held this package together was the standard
OPS classroom tutelage, similar to that given the military, which
imparted the insight that "communists", primarily of
the Cuban variety, were behind all the unrest in Guatemala, the
students were further advised to "stay out of politics",
that is, support whatever pro-US regime happens to be in power.
Also standard was the advice to use "minimum force"
and to cultivate good community relations. But the behavior of
the police and military students in practice was so far removed
from this that continued American involvement with these forces
over a period of decades makes this advice appear to be little
more than a self-serving statement for the record, the familiar
bureaucratic maxim: Cover your ass.
According to AID, by 1970, over 30,000 Guatemalan police personnel
had received OPS training in Guatemala alone, one of the largest
OPS programs in Latin America.
"At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated
from top to bottom with CIA people," disclosed John Gilligan,
Director of AID during the Carter administration. "The idea
was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas,
government, volunteer, religious, every kind."
By the end of 1968, the counter-insurgency campaign had all
but wiped out the guerrilla movement by thwarting the rebels'
ability to operate openly and casually in rural areas as they
had been accustomed to, and, through sheer terrorization of villagers,
isolating the guerrillas from their bases of support in the countryside.
It had been an unequal match. By Pentagon standards it had
been a "limited" war, due to the absence of a large
and overt US combat force. At the same time, this had provided
the American media and public with the illusion of their country's
non-involvement. However, as one observer has noted: "In
the lexicon of counterrevolutionaries, these wars are 'limited'
only in their consequences for the intervening power. For the
people and country under assault, they are total."
Not until 1976 did another serious guerrilla movement arise,
the Guatemalan Army of the Poor (EGP) by name. Meanwhile, others
vented their frustration through urban warfare in the face of
government violence, which reached a new high during 1970 and
1971 under a "state of siege" imposed by the president,
Col. Carlos Arana Osorio Arana, who had been close to the US military
since serving as Guatemalan military attaché in Washington,
and then as commander of the counter-insurgency operation in Zacapa
(where his commitment to his work earned him the title of "the
butcher of Zacapa"), decreed to himself virtually unlimited
power to curb opposition of any stripe.
Amnesty International later stated that Guatemalan sources,
including the Committee of the Relatives of Disappeared Persons,
claimed that over 7,000 persons disappeared or were found dead
in these two years. "Foreign diplomats in Guatemala City,"
reported Le Monde in 1971, "believe that for every political
assassination by left-wing revolutionaries fifteen murders are
committed by right-wing fanatics."
During a curfew so draconian that even ambulances, doctors
and fire engines reportedly were forbidden outside ... as American
police cars and paddy wagons patrolled the streets day and night
... and American helicopters buzzed overhead ... the United States
saw fit to provide further technical assistance and equipment
to initiate a reorganization of Arana's police forces to make
them yet more efficient.
"In response to a question [from a congressional investigator
in 1971] as to what he conceived his job to be, a member of the
US Military Group (MILGP) in Guatemala replied instantly that
it was to make the Guatemalan Armed Forces as efficient as possible.
The next question as to why this was in the interest of the United
States was followed by a long silence while he reflected on a
point which had apparently never occurred to him."
As for the wretched of Guatemala's earth ... in 1976 a major
earthquake shook the land, taking over 20,000 lives, largely of
the poor whose houses were the first to crumble ... the story
was reported of the American church relief worker who arrived
to help the victims; he was shocked at their appearance and their
living conditions; then he was informed that he was not in the
earthquake area, that what he was seeing was normal.
"The level of pesticide spraying is the highest in the
world," reported the New York Times in 1977, "and little
concern is shown for the people who live near the cotton fields
... 30 or 40 people a day are treated for pesticide poisoning
in season, death can come within hours, or a longer lasting liver
malfunction ... the amounts of DDT in mothers' milk in Guatemala
are the highest in the Western world. "It's very simple,"
explained a cotton planter, "more insecticide means more
cotton, fewer insects mean higher profits." In an attack,
guerrillas destroyed 22 crop-duster planes; the planes were quickly
replaced thanks to the genius of American industry ... and all
the pesticide you could ever want, from Monsanto Chemical Company
of St. Louis and Guatemala City.
During the Carter presidency, in response to human-rights
abuses in Guatemala and other countries, several pieces of congressional
legislation were passed which attempted to curtail military and
economic aid to those nations. In the years preceding, similar
prohibitions regarding aid to Guatemala had been enacted into
law. The efficacy of these laws can be measured by their number.
In any event, the embargoes were never meant to be more than partial,
and Guatemala also received weapons and military equipment from
Israel, at least part of which was covertly underwritten by Washington.
As further camouflage, some of the training of Guatemala's
security forces was reportedly maintained by transferring it to
clandestine sites in Chile and Argentina.
Testimony of an Indian woman: "
'My name is Rigoberta Menchu Tum. l am a representative of
the "Vincente Menchu" [her father] Revolutionary Christians
... On 9 December 1979, my 16-year-old brother Patrocino was captured
and tortured for several days and then taken with twenty other
young men to the square in Chajul ... An officer of [President]
Lucas Garcia's army of murderers ordered the prisoners to be paraded
in a line. Then he started to insult and threaten the inhabitants
of the village who were forced to come out of their houses to
witness the event. I was with my mother, and we saw Patroclno;
he had had his tongue cut out and his toes cut off. The officer
jackal made a speech. Every time he paused the soldiers beat the
When he finished his ranting, the bodies of my brother and
the other prisoners were swollen bloody, unrecognizable. lt. was
monstrous, but they were still alive.
They were thrown on the ground and drenched with gasoline.
The soldiers set fire to the wretched bodies with torches and
the captain laughed like a hyena and forced the inhabitants of
Chajul to watch. This was his objective-that they should be terrified
and witness the punishment given to the "guerrillas".
In 1992, Rigoberta Menchu Tum was awarded the Nobel Peace
Testimony of Fred Sherwood (CIA pilot during the overthrow
of the Arbenz government in 1954 who settled in Guatemala and
became president of the American Chamber of Commerce), speaking
in Guatemala, September 1980:
"Why should we be worried about the death squads? They're
bumping off the commies, our enemies. I'd give them more power.
Hell, l'd get some cartridges if I could, and everyone else would
too ... Why should we criticize them? The death squad-I'm for
it ... Shit! There's no question we can't wait until Reagan gets
in. We hope Carter falls in the ocean real quick ... We all feel
that he [Reagan] is our savior. "
The Movement for National Liberation (MLN) was a prominent
political party. It was the principal party in the Arana regime.
An excerpt from a radio broadcast in 1980 by the head of the party,
Mario Sandoval Alarcon ...
"I admit that the MLN is the party of organized violence.
Organized violence is vigor, just as organized color is scenery
and organized sound is harmony. There is nothing wrong with organized
violence; it is vigor, and the MLN is a vigorous movement."
Mario Sandoval Alarcon and former president Arana ("the
butcher of Zacapa") "spent inaugural week mingling with
the stars of the Reagan inner circle", reported syndicated
columnist Jack Anderson. Sandoval, who had worked closely with
the CIA in the overthrow of Arbenz, announced that he had met
with Reagan defense and foreign-policy advisers even before the
election. Right-wing Guatemalan leaders were elated by Reagan's
victory. They looked forward to a resumption of the hand-in-glove
relationship between American and Guatemalan security teams and
businessmen which had existed before Carter took office.
Before that could take place, however, the Reagan administration
first had to soften the attitude of Congress about this thing
called human rights. In March 1981, two months after Reagan's
inaugural, Secretary of State Alexander Haig told a congressional
committee that there was a Soviet "hit list .. for the ultimate
takeover of Central America". It was a "four phased
operation" of which the first part had been the "seizure
of Nicaragua". "Next," warned Haig, "is El
Salvador, to be followed by Honduras and Guatemala."
This was the kind of intelligence information which one would
expect to derive from a captured secret document or KGB defector.
But neither one of these was produced or mentioned, nor did any
of the assembled congressmen presume to raise the matter.
Two months later, General Vernon Walters, former Deputy Director
of the CIA, on a visit to Guatemala as Haig's special emissary,
was moved to proclaim that the United States hoped to help the
Guatemalan government defend "peace and liberty".
During this period, Guatemalan security forces, official and
unofficial, massacred at least 2,000 peasants (accompanied by
the usual syndrome of torture, mutilation and decapitation), destroyed
several villages, assassinated 76 officials of the opposition
Christian Democratic Party, scores of trade unionists, and at
least six catholic priests.
"19 August 1981 ... unidentified gunmen occupy the town
of San Miguel Acatan, force the Mayor to give them a list of all
those who had contributed funds for the building of a school,
pick out 15 from the list (including three of the Mayor's children),
make them dig their own graves and shoot them."
In December, Ronald Reagan finally spoke out against government
repression. He denounced Poland for crushing by "brute force,
the stirrings of liberty ... Our Government and those of our allies,
have expressed moral revulsion at the police-state tactics of
Poland's oppressors. "
Using the loopholes in the congressional legislation, both
real and loosely interpreted, the Reagan administration, in its
first two years, chipped away at the spirit of the embargo: $3.1
million of jeeps and trucks, $4 million of helicopter spare parts,
$6.3 million of other military supplies. These were amongst the
publicly announced aid shipments; what was transpiring covertly
can only be guessed at in light of certain disclosures: Jack Anderson
revealed in August 1981 that the United States was using Cuban
exiles to train security forces in Guatemala, in this operation,
Anderson wrote, the CIA had arranged "for secret training
in the finer points of assassination". The following year,
it was reported that the Green Berets had been instructing Guatemalan
Army officers for over two years in the finer points of warfare.
And in 1983, we learned that in the previous two years Guatemala's
Air Force helicopter fleet had somehow increased from eight to
27, all of them American made, and that Guatemalan officers were
once again being trained at the US School of the Americas in Panama.
In March 1982, a coup put General Efrain Rios Montt, a "born-again
Christian" in power. A month later, the Reagan administration
announced that it perceived signs of an Improvement in the state
of human rights in the country and took the occasion to justify
a shipment of military aid. On the first of July, Rios Montt announced
a state of siege. It was to last more than eight months. In his
first six months in power, 2,600 Indians and peasants were massacred,
while during his 17-month reign, more than 400 villages were brutally
wiped off the map. In December 1982, Ronald Reagan, also a Christian,
went to see for himself. After meeting with Rios Montt, Reagan,
referring to the allegations of extensive human-rights abuses,
declared that the Guatemalan leader was receiving "a bad
Statement by the Guatemalan Army of the Poor, made in 1981
(by which time the toll of people murdered by the government since
1954 had reached at least the 60,000 mark and the sons of one-time
death-squad members were now killing the sons of the Indians killed
by their fathers):
"The Guatemalan revolution is entering its third decade.
Ever since the government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in 1954,
the majority of the Guatemalan people have been seeking a way
to move the country towards solving the same problems which were
present then and have only worsened over time.
The counterrevolution, put in motion by the U.S. Government
and those domestic sectors committed to retaining every single
one of their privileges, dispersed and disorganized the popular
and democratic forces. However, it did not resolve any of the
problems which had first given rise to demands for economic, social
and political change. These demands have been raised again and
again in the last quarter century, by any means that seemed appropriate
at the time, and have received each time the same repressive response
as in 1954."
Statement by Father Thomas Melville, 1968:
"Having come to the conclusion that the actual state
of violence, composed of the malnutrition Ignorance, sickness
and hunger of the vast majority of the Guatemalan population,
is the direct result of a capitalist system that makes the defenseless
Indian compete against the powerful and well-armed landowner,
my brother [Father Arthur Melville] and I decided not to be silent
accomplices of the mass murder that this system generates.
We began teaching the Indians that no one will defend their
rights, if they do not defend themselves. If the government and
oligarchy are using arms to maintain them in their position of
misery, then they have the obligation to take up arms and defend
their God-given right to be men . We were accused of being communists
along with the people who listened to us, and were asked to leave
the country by our religious superiors and the U.S. ambassador
[John Gordon Mein]. We did so.
But I say here that I am a communist only if Christ was a
communist. I did what I did and will continue to do so because
of the teachings of Christ and not because of Marx or Lenin. And
I say here too, that we are many more than the hierarchy and the
U.S. government think.
When the fight breaks out more in the open, let the world
know that we do it not for Russia not for China, nor any other
country, but for Guatemala. Our response to the present situation
is not because we have read either Marx or Lenin, but because
we have read the New Testament."
Postscript, a small sample:
1988: Guatemala continues to suffer the worst record of human-rights
abuses in Latin America, stated the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
in its annual report on human rights in the Western Hemisphere.
1990: Guatemalan soldiers at the army base in Santiago Atitlan
opened fire on unarmed townspeople carrying white flags, killing
14 and wounding 24. The people had come with their mayor to speak
to the military commander about repeated harassment from the soldiers.
1990: "The United States, said to be disillusioned because
of persistent corruption in the government of President Vinicio
Cerezo Arevalo, is reportedly turning to Guatemala's military
to promote economic and political stability ... even though the
military is blamed for human rights abuses and is believed to
be involved in drug trafficking."
This was reported in May. In June, a prominent American businessman
living in Guatemala, Michael DeVine, was kidnapped and nearly
beheaded by the Guatemalan military after he apparently stumbled
upon the military's drug trafficking and/or other contraband activities.
The Bush administration, in a show of public anger of the killing,
cut off military aid to Guatemala, but, we later learned, secretly
allowed the CIA to provide millions of dollars to the military
government to make up for the loss. The annual payments of $5
to $7 million apparently continued into the Clinton administration.
1992: In March, Guatemalan guerrilla leader, Efrain Bamaca
Velasquez, was captured and disappeared. For the next three years,
his American wife, attorney Jennifer Harbury, waged an impassioned
international campaign-including public fasts in Guatemala City
(nearly to death) and in Washington-to pressure the Guatemalan
and American governments for information about her husband's fate.
Both governments insisted that they knew nothing. Finally, in
March 1995, Rep. Robert Torricelli of the House Intelligence Committee
revealed that Bamaca had been tortured and executed the same year
of his capture, and that he, as well as DeVine, had been murdered
on the orders of Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, who had been on the
CIA payroll for several years. (Alpirez thus becoming another
illustrious graduate of Fort Benning's School of the Americas).
The facts surrounding these cases were known early on by the CIA,
and by officials at the State Department and National Security
Council at least a few months before the disclosure. Torricelli's
announcement prompted several other Americans to come forward
with tales of murder, rape or torture of themselves or a relation
at the hands of the Guatemalan military. Sister Dianna Ortiz,
a nun, related how, in 1989, she was kidnapped, burned with cigarettes,
raped repeatedly, and lowered into a pit full of corpses and rats.
A fair-skinned man who spoke with an American accent seemed to
be in charge, she said.