Following the discovery of about 80 million pages of documentation, out of which several millions are closely connected with human rights violations during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war (1960-1996), SOJC professor Gabriela Martinez traveled to Guatemala to produce a documentary of the chilling archive.
The documentary “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” will first be released to the public at 221 Allen Hall, University of Oregon, at 6 p.m. October 24, 2013. It will be shown as part of “From Silence to Memory: Archives and Human Rights in Guatemala and Beyond” presented by Latin American Studies
Martinez came to the project invited by Stephanie Wood, the Wired Humanities Project Director. Stephanie Wood went to Guatemala in 2011 on a sponsored trip by the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and the UO Libraries to lecture on digital archiving. During that stay Wood was invited to visit Guatemala’s Historical Archive of the National Police, which consisted of massive amounts of documents covered with dust. The documents — piles of papers dating from 1882 to 1997 and filling entire rooms, floor to ceiling — were discovered in July 2005, eight years after the National Police was reorganized as part of a peace agreement.
Wood returned to UO, and along with Steve Huter, the Director of the NSRC, enlisted the help of other faculty members, including Martinez and history professor Carlos Aguirre to engage on a collaborative work with Guatemala’s Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN). Former UO law student Greg Krupa assisted with production and logistics in Guatemala. Videographer and producer Andrew Kirkpatrick, from the Center for Media and Technology at UO Libraries, accompanied Martínez on her second trip to assist filming with a second camera.
Martinez described the year-long filming and editing process as intense, and, at moments, overwhelming.
“To see this amount of documentation and be fully aware that a good chunk of that has data from kidnappings, torture, disappearances – that part is mind-boggling,” Martinez said. “There are records of everything they did, of every person of interest they had.”
In conjunction with the documentary, the AHPN report Del silencio a la memoria has been translated thanks to the sponsorship of the NSRC and the UO Libraries. Professor Aguirre has contributed to the edition of this English version and has written the foreword, and Kate Doyle, National Security Archive senior analyst of U.S. policy in Latin America, has contributed with the moving preface to the English translation.
Martinez said her team’s primary concern was documenting the fact that these documents actually exist, and disseminate awareness about their existence.
“There is always the risk that the government will destroy these documents,” she said.
Following the premiere, the film will be exhibited on a permanent worldwide webcast accessible through the main AHPN digital portal in Guatemala with multi-links to hundreds of local and international human rights organizations around the world. It will also be disseminated through university libraries, domestic and international festivals and interested television networks.
— Erin Dietrich MA ’09