University of Oregon

UO Releases Book and Documentary Film on Human Rights in Guatemala

The University of Oregon is pleased to announce the release of a book translation and documentary film that highlight efforts by Guatemalans to overcome decades of silence and impunity over human rights abuses guatemalan archives book covercommitted during the war that ravaged that country between 1960 and 1996. 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), 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. Among other types of data, it contained invaluable information on systematic human rights violations committed during the civil war. The AHPN has since become a central player in efforts to find truth, justice, and reconciliation in Guatemala; and its work is attracting worldwide attention from archivists, librarians, scholars, activists, and human rights organizations.

The publication of the report Del Silencio a la Memoria: Revelaciones del Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the National Police Historical Archive), was unanimously praised as a step forward both in making the work and mission of the AHPN more widely known and in creating an understanding of how systematic state repression works. Carlos Aguirre, professor of history at the UO, wrote the foreword to and edited the English version of the report, which promises to amplify the story’s impact and allow for increased international attention to the important work the AHPN is doing. The UO Libraries has made the English version freely and widely available digitally at

Gabriela Martínez’s documentary Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala (RT 54 min.), on the other hand, tells the story of the AHPN and its intertwinement with the complexities of past human rights abuses, the dramatic effects they had on specific individuals, and present-day efforts to preserve collective memories and bring justice and reconciliation to the country. The film features interviews with victims, relatives, human rights activists, lawyers, archivists, and forensic anthropologists whose combined effort sheds light on the tragic history of Guatemala but also offers hope for the future.

A trailer for Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala can be viewed at DVDs will be available free of charge to educators, students, human rights advocates, archivists, and the general public at a screening on October 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 important resources, a symposium entitled “From Silence to Memory: Archives and Human Rights in Guatemala and Beyond” will take place at the UO campus on October 24, 2013. Noted scholars and archivists such as Trudy Peterson (former acting Archivist of the United States), Jean Franco (Columbia University),  Gustavo Meoño and Alberto Fuentes (AHPN, Guatemala), and Kent Norsworthy (University of Texas, Austin) will gather to discuss the importance of the work being carried out by the AHPN and to highlight the contributions of both the book and the documentary. A screening of Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala will also be part of the event. For the full schedule, visit

Funding for these two resources was generously provided by the University of Oregon Libraries, the Network Startup Resource Center, and Phil and Jill Lighty. Additional contributions came from the UO School of Journalism and Communication and the Americas in a Globalized World Initiative. The Latin American Studies Program played a key role in coordinating activities related to the UO collaboration with AHPN, and the Office of International Affairs offered critical institutional support for these efforts.

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