University of Oregon

Genocide and Human Rights in Guatemala

Here are some resources for doing primary research on Guatemala's civil war and its aftermath.  If you have questions please contact David Woken, the University of Oregon's History and Latin American Studies Librarian, at or (541) 346-1883.


General Resources

These are useful resources for Latin American Studies research on any topic.


Genocide and Human Rights in Guatemala

The following resources and tips will be especially helpful for your work on Guatemala's civil war and its aftermath.


Secondary Sources

The following are books and films that speak directly to Guatemala's civil war and the struggles of human rights organizations in its aftermath, as well as tips for finding similar secondary source material:

  • Álvarez, Virgilio et al. Guatemala, historia reciente (1954-1996) 5 vols. (Guatemala: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2012-) F1466.5 .G7935 2012: A recent, detailed overview of Guatemalan history from the end of the Democratic Spring to the end of the Civil War.
  • Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (Guatemala) Guatemala: memoria del silencio 12 vols. (Guatemala City: CEH, 1999): the official report of the Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico, the investigative body set up under the Oslo Accord that ended Guatemala's civil war in 1994.  Many parts of the report have been published separately.  We have the following two portions of the report here at the UO.
    • Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (Guatemala) Conclusiones y recomendaciones: Guatemala memoria del silencio (Guatemala City: F&G Editores, 2004) JC599.G8 G77 2007
    • Higonnet, Etelle, and the Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (Guatemala) Quiet genocide: Guatemala 1981-1983 (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2009) KGD5645 .H54 2009
  • Yates, Pamela, et al. Dictator in the dock : the genocide trial of Efraín Ríos Montt : a short film series (New York: New Day Films, 2013) F1466.5.R56 D52 2013 (on Audio and Video Reserve): a documentary miniseries of 23 short films closely following the 2013 trial for crimes against humanity of General Efraín Ríos Montt, dictator of Guatemala during the height of the civil war in 1982-1983.
  • Subject headings: the following terms are common in the formal subjects used to describe books about Guatemala's civil war and its aftermath; use them in combination with each other and relevant keywords to search the library catalog for books in libraries around the world using these subjects
    • "Guatemala", especially in combination with "Civil War, 1960-1996"
    • "human rights"
    • "genocide"
    • "foreign relations" (good for roles of foreign governments, especially the United States)
    • "Mayas" (for works on Guatemala's indigenous peoples specifically), especially in combination with "Government Relations"
    • "women" or "Maya women"
    • "refugees"
    • "political activity"
    • "working class" or "labor unions"
    • also try proper names ("Ríos Montt, Efraín," "Comunidades de Población en Resistencia," or "Quiché," for example) as subject headings or as keywords in conjunction with some of the subjects listed above


Primary Sources

  • AHPN: Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police: a crucial repository of information on state repression in Guatemala over the past century.
    • Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, et al. From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the AHPN (Eugene: University of Oregon Libraries, 2013): a comprehensive history of the Guatemalan Policía Nacional that also serves as a guide to their archive.  It can be downloaded here, and a physical copy is available for checkout from Knight Library.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): a collection of foreign policy documents that serves as the official history of U.S. foreign policy
  • Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room: the CIA's official interface to find documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Digital National Security Archive: a database of declassified U.S. government documents, largely from the State Department and the CIA, including many about the civil war in Guatemala.
  • Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy: a searchable, full-text online database of documents made public by Wikileaks.  Search the "Kissinger Cables" collection to find materials relevant to the civil war in Guatemala.
  • AP Images is a rich database that includes approximately 750,000 current and archived photos from the library of the Associated Press, including many on Guatemala. In addition, one may search in the full text of Associated Press news releases, sound clips, and AP information graphics (charts, graphs, etc.).
  • The Hub was an archive active from 2007 to 2010 for videos on human rights issues; their videos on Guatemala can be found here.
  • UNBISnet (United Nations Bibliographic Information System) provides comprehensive access to documents and speeches of the United Nations and its subordinate bodies, 1979-date. Many are full-text, and others may be found in the Document Center's UN collection.
  • Our research guide on Primary Sources has many useful tips for tracking down further primary source material.
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