HBO’s ‘The Art of Political Murder’ chronicles the assassination of human rights activist and Guatemalan Bishop Juan José Gerardi Conedera and it’s baffling aftermath. In 1998, the Bishop published a report alleging that 93% of the atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of the country were by the Army during the civil war, and two days later, he was attacked and bludgeoned to death. It took a while, but his assailants were eventually caught and brought to justice, which included the father and son duo of Byron Disrael Lima Estrada and Byron Lima Oliva. So, if you’re curious to know where they are now, you’ve come to the right place.
Who Are Lima Estrada and Byron Lima Oliva?
Byron Disrael Lima Estrada, like many young Guatemalan officers in the 1960s, developed his military career under the tutelage of the United States Army. His early training was at Fort Benning, Georgia, following which he pursued studies in the field of intelligence officer – counter-intelligence instruction from a U.S. Army Mobile Training Team (MTT). Subsequently, upon joining the Guatemalan Army as a platoon leader, Lima Estrada quickly rose through the ranks to end up as a Colonel.
He was a key player in the 1988 plot to oust President Vinicio Cerezo and restore the military rule over not only the civilians but politics as well. But quite quickly, he and his troop’s coup was put down, and Lima Estrada, despite his participation, was not dismissed from the Army. Instead, he was sent into “exile” before he officially retired in 1991. Lima Estrada’s son, Lima Oliva, followed in his footsteps, spending years developing ways to protect himself and become a well-known face in the Army.
Lima Oliva was an officer in the Guatemalan Army, fighting against leftist guerrillas for years before becoming an intelligence officer and working with the presidential guard. There, he acted as a shield for those political groups who often needed severe protection. In other words, he protected State Secrets. And although the Colonel and his Captain son came under suspicion for the murder of Bishop Juan José Gerardi Conedera shortly after it transpired, they weren’t arrested for it until January of 2000.
Where Are Lima Estrada and Byron Lima Oliva Now?
Despite being high-ranking Army officers, both Lima Estrada and Lima Oliva were tried in a civilian court in 2001, after which their June 8 conviction led them to be sentenced to 30 years in prison each. However, once they appealed, in March 2005, a court lowered their sentence to 20 years each. In April 2007, the Constitutional Court upheld this new verdict. Subsequently, because of Lima Estrada’s good behavior in prison and his old age, he was granted parole in 2012. Therefore, he had his freedom for about seven years, until he succumbed to his failing health on December 29, 2019.
Lima Oliva, on the other hand, was shot to death in jail in July of 2016. It is said that he had been a longtime leader of an organized crime cell within the Pavón Penal Rehabilitation Farm, which was attempting to seize control of everything around them. He was allegedly involved in illegal activities, had his own set of bodyguards within the inmates, and was even named the “king” of the prison system. According to the officer in charge of this investigation, all this somehow led to a standoff, which eventually resulted in Lima Oliva taking at least two bullets straight to the head and dying instantly.
Read More: How Did José Obdulio Villanueva Die?