UO releases book and documentary on human rights in Guatemala

EUGENE, Ore. (Oct. 11, 2013)—The English translation of a Spanish-language report on an archive documenting human rights abuses in Guatemala and a new documentary film on the same subject will help raise awareness of human rights around the world.

The translation and film are the result of a collaboration between academic units at the University of Oregon and Guatemala’s Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN). With funding support from the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), and other campus units, two UO faculty members, Carlos Aguirre and Gabriela Martínez, headed up the projects for the UO.

In 2005, a massive amount of documentation belonging to the former Guatemalan National Police was discovered. The archive contained information on systematic human rights violations committed during the country’s civil war from 1960 to 1996.

The AHPN has since issued a report, “From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the National Police Historical Archive.” AHPN’s work is attracting worldwide attention from archivists, librarians, scholars, activists and human rights organizations.

Aguirre, UO professor of history, wrote the foreword to and edited the English version of the report. The UO Libraries has made the English version available.

In connection, Martínez has made a documentary on the archive, “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” (RT 54 min.). The film features interviews with victims, relatives, human rights activists, lawyers, archivists and forensic anthropologists to shed light on the tragic history of Guatemala and hope for the future. A trailer is available now; and the full length film will be available to educators, students, human rights advocates, archivists, and the general public free of charge beginning Oct. 24.

Andrew Kirkpatrick, videographer and producer from the UO Libraries' Center for Media and Educational Technologies, assisted Martínez with the videography during a second filming trip Martínez took to Guatemala. In addition, Kirkpatrick assisted with the post-production phase of the documentary. 

To mark the launch of these two resources, a symposium entitled “From Silence to Memory: Archives and Human Rights in Guatemala and Beyond” will take place Oct. 24, on campus.

Scholars and archivists will discuss the importance of archives and the work by the AHPN, and highlight the contributions of Aguirre’s book and Martínez’s documentary. A screening of “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” is scheduled at 6 p.m. in 221 Allen Hall.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Contact: Julie Brown, UO communications, 541-346-3185, julbrown@uoregon.edu

Sources: Carlos Aguirre, professor of history, University of Oregon, 541-346-5905, caguirre@uoregon.edu; Gabriela Martínez, associate professor of journalism and communication, University of Oregon, 541-346-1997, gmartine@uoregon.edu