Reckoning with Genocide in Guatemala through Truth and Memory

  • Gisela Sarabia-Sandoval

Presentation author(s)

Gisela Sarabia-Sandoval ’22, Milton, Wisconsin

Major: International Relations
Minors: Latin America and the Caribbean; Chinese Language & Culture


From the 1960s to 1996, Guatemala was scarred by a 36-year civil war. The Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) concluded that 93% of human rights violations during the war were committed by the Guatemalan government against the Mayan people, a major indigenous group in the country. The CEH estimated 200,000 people were killed or disappeared; 80% of these were Mayan and 17% were Ladino (mixed Spanish-Indigenous descent). The Guatemalan government believed that the Mayans were natural allies of the guerillas, and launched systematic massacres to eliminate guerillas and civilians. My research investigates the actions taken to transition from a three-decade war to peace, as well as the national and international agreements to bring peace to the Mayan community. While Guatemala has used a variety of transitional justice methods, I focus on the work of truth commissions to foster historical clarification of the past and reconciliation within society in the present.


Beth Dougherty

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