Horrors of Guatemalan civil war uncovered in University’s collaboration with police archive

The University will collaborate with the Guatemalan Historical Archive of the National [email protected]@[email protected]@ and the General Archives of Central [email protected]@,-Guatemala%29-%28AGCA%[email protected]@ in a series of projects in the hopes of shedding light on human rights violations committed by Guatemalan police officers during the Guatemalan civil war, which ended in 1996. The projects include the translation of a report and a documentary called “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala.”@@[email protected]@

The archive, housed in a police compound in Guatemala City, was previously kept a secret from those pursuing records pertaining to atrocities committed during Guatemala’s 36-year-long civil war. @@[email protected]@The archive holds an estimated 80 million documents created from 1882 to 1997.

The project began when Stephanie Wood, the University’s Wired Humanities Project director and senior research [email protected]@[email protected]@, visited Guatemala under the Network Startup Resource Center last year to lecture on digital archiving. After being solicited by a member of the Guatemalan Historical Archive of the National Police to help with the archive in Guatemala City, she enlisted the services of University faculty and researchers.

In March, a group of faculty members, including history professor Carlos [email protected]@[email protected]@, University Libraries videographer Andrew [email protected]@, associate professor for the School of Journalism Gabriela Martinez and Wood, visited Guatemala to attend meetings and workshops by the Guatemalan Historical Archive of the National Police, to visit the archive and complete a memorandum of [email protected]@ between the University and Historical Archive of the National Police.

In response, Dennis Galvan, the University’s vice provost for international [email protected]@[email protected]@, signed the memorandum to see that the three projects are completed by the University: the translation of the report, “From Silence to Memory,” @@ production of a documentary produced by Gabriela Martinez, and the implementation of a search system of the archival documents cataloged by the University of Texas at [email protected]@

“This is a way for us to take our expertise in the social sciences, the humanities, or work on archives and martial it toward a project that establishes new international partnerships, showcases our excellence and does a lot of social good at the same time,” Galvan said.

“This archive is serving a number of purposes,” Aguirre said. “It helps victims and relatives identify information about those that were suffering from political repression during the war in Guatemala and the documents found in this archive are being used as evidence against the perpetrators of human rights violations, including some of the very top Guatemalan politicians and heads of state.”

Aguirre says that another purpose of the documentation of the archive is facilitating the production of knowledge about what happened in Guatemala.

Martinez is producing the documentary “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala.” He stresses the importance of documenting the archive to ensure its safety.

“The more we register and the more we document, the more evidence in the international public sphere we have that says, indeed, this archive exists and these documents were there,” Martinez said.

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