Summary of "Proyecto Interdiocesano Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (Guatemala)"

Summary of

Proyecto Interdiocesano Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (Guatemala)

By The Human Rights Office, Archdiocese of Guatemala

Summary written by Eric Brahm, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Proyecto Interdiocesano Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (Guatemala). 1999. Guatemala: Never Again! Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.

The Recovery of Historical Memory (Recuperacion de la Memoria Historia - REMHI) project, created by the Human Rights Office of the Catholic Archdiocese, produced this report of its investigation into Guatemala's legacy of human rights abuses. An unofficial precursor to the UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), the investigation examined the widespread violence and terror by the government on the people of Guatemala during the four decades-long civil war. The investigation got underway in October 1994, two years before the signing of the peace accords in Guatemala. The mainly clergy who conducted the investigations risked their lives by visiting communities all over Guatemala. They interviewed thousands of people, giving voice to victims and survivors. It interweaves these personal stories with the broader political, military, and social background of Guatemala's past to put what happened in historical context.

As the report attests, "[t]he basis for presenting this information is to preserve the historical memory about the political violence, the grave violations of human rights of individuals and indigenous communities during these 36 years of fraternal fighting that produced unlimited social polarization...It is an ethical and moral demand that never again in Guatemala will the actions of the recent past reoccur in the future." Organizationally, part one discusses the impact of the violence; part two, the methods used to commit the abuses; part three provides the historical context; part four gives voice to the victims of the conflict; and part five outlines the REMHI Project's recommendations for achieving social reconstruction. All told, the report documents some 55,000 human rights violations. It describes the role of significant corporate actors as well as that of the United States. In terms of recommendations, it points to the importance of remembrance, punishment for perpetrators, and different forms of reparations for victims of the violence.

The report also includes Monseñor Juan Gerardi's speech given at the presentation of the REMHI report. Monseñor Gerardi headed the project. Two days after the report was released to the public in Guatemala, Monseñor Gerardi was murdered. Nonetheless, the report has been popular and remains a testament that the truth ultimately will not be silenced.