Kaibiles: training in Guatemalan
José Luis Castillejos|
October 4, 2005 (Notimex).- Kaibiles, Guatemalan Army's
" killing machines " - a mix of American " rangers ",
British " gurkhas " and Peruvian commando - are trained
in " El Infierno " ( Hell ), a military school northern
" El Infierno ", kaibil training center
and especial operations located in the Poptun area, 257
miles from Guatemala's capital, you can only be there
with an Army's invitation, this Notimex's correspondent
was there a few years ago.
The members of this
elite force are subject of extreme survival eight-week
training, they always have present the motto:
Kaibil, if I go forward, follow me; if I stop, pressure
me. If I back up, kill me ".
The machine guns'
rattling, a thick dust and smokescreen and young
painted-face kaibiles carrying a M-16 rifle on their
chest and the bayonet fixed, receive the visitor in a
field filled with landmines and " pica-pica " plants,
which cause an endless stinging.
cannonshots and the gunpowder smell frighten off the
birds, meanwhile the men wearing hardship clothing move
having their chest on the ground between the thick
jungle foliage, dust and mud.
It is a skills
display that these soldiers - indigenous most of them -
have developed as result of an exhausting training and
privations which turned them in exceptional strength
These men, whose basic weapon is
surprise, know how to resist and have been trained as "
killing machines " who react before " strange forces or
doctrines attempting against the country ", according to
military sources consulted by Notimex.
training for becoming a kaibil has three stages: the
first one is 21 days of theory instructions and
practical training, where the military and moral levels
of the candidates are assessed.
The second stage
takes place in the jungle for 28 days and after a hard
training, the kaibil must know how to act skillfully
during an irregular war and be able to cross water
currents, swamps, crags, carrying out demolition and to
detect and deactivate landmines.
During the last
stage, the candidate to kaibil, used to eat snakes, ants
and roots and to collect dewdrops in leafs, must execute
annihilation attacks, intelligence maneuvers, enemy
territory penetration and air refueling.
called it " El Infierno " because the 38° centigrade
degrees and the intense humidity of the place have made
many to give up.
The common visitor melts in
this area located in the middle of the Peten Guatemalan
jungle, where just a few get in, in the case of military
men, many of them fall exhausted before the hostile
environment and the brutal training.
give up would never be able to wear the purple beret and
the emblems of the elite force created in the 70s to
fight the Guatemalan insurgency.
As part of the
course, which only a third of the candidates finish, the
future kaibiles have to be two days without sleeping
inside a river with neck-high water.
are able to break the enemy's will and their mysticism
is present in every Latin American army, the lieutenant
of the 42 Promocion " Kaibil Balam Internacional ".
in that time, Julio Alberto Soto Bilbao, said to
The elite group was created on
December 5, 1974 to fight against the now disappeared
group National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit ( URNG ),
who for four decades had on the rack the government of
this Central America country.
The soldiers were
named Kaibil Balam, a king of the Maya empire who could
never been captured by the Spanish conquerors, with this
spirit, it was also organized with a political-military
objective: to recover Belize.
Some of the
kaibiles' postulates are convincing war mottos, such as
" always attack, always move forward " and " A kaibil's
attack will be planned in secret, security and
astuteness, because a kaibil is a killing machine ".
As part of their training, they are taught to
take care of puppies which they kill later to eat them,
they are also trained to cut a chicken's head with a
It is speculated that during the
counter-insurgent war they ate human flesh from their
enemies killed in the battle.
The soldiers from
this elite group show the insignia proudly, it is
bow-shape with black background and golden edging with
the word " KAIBIL " in yellow capital letters ,
The black color means night operations, the
yellow the ones in daytime. The yellow edging, the first
training week, the black background the second week of
training and the letters the following 42 days.
At the end of the training, the commando eat
alligator, lizard and deer roasted meat and they are
allowed to take by force the current Guatemalan Minister
of Defense and throw him to a pond with crocodiles.
As part of the course's finishing ritual, every
one of the military men take the " Bomb ", a mix of
tequila, whiskey, rum, beer, mineral water and gunpowder
which is served in a bamboo glass, in its exterior and
towards the upper border is tied to a bayonet.
They have to carefully drink it, because with a
" Bomb " they got drunk and could get their forehead cut
with the bayonet, which sticks out from the glass.
Since this moment, they can show the kaibil coat
of arms, which is a climbing croll, which means union
and strength and a dagger in the image's center, it
represents honor, and a handle with five notches in
reference to the five senses.
One of the mottos
read at the entry of the Military Area 23 in Potpun is "
Welcome to hell ", the candidates who spend eight weeks
there can confirm it.