Nearly 35 years after the attack on the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala, former police chief Pedro García Arredondo was found guilty on January 19, 2015 of orchestrating the 1980 burning of the embassy. Arredondo was sentenced to 40 years in prison for crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder. He received an additional 50 years for the murder of two students after the massacre occurred — for a total of 90 years in prison.
On January 31, 1980, a group of Maya K’iche’ farmers and their allies, protesting assassinations and disappearances in the department of El Quiché, took over the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City. The occupation was the last in a series of unsuccessful actions to raise awareness about the repression and violence that indigenous communities were facing. In response, security forces encircled the building and began an assault, quickly occupying the first and third floors — despite the ambassador’s warnings that to do so violated international law. The attack ended with the burning of the embassy and the death of 37 people.