Forced disappearance: resilience and creativity in the defense of memory and search for justice

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
Publication Year
Thematic Area
Memorialization / Enforced Disappearance
Open access

In Guatemala, many have come to think of historical memory as a “disputed territory.” Today, most of the people with political power deny or minimize the impact and extent of genocide in the country, carried out with direct support from the United States. At the same time, communities work tirelessly to sustain the memories of the 250,000 people massacred or forcibly disappeared by the Guatemalan military and police during the Internal Armed Conflict.
In the same way that ancestral lands and the human body have been targeted to oppress indigenous and campesino communities - not only in Guatemala, but globally - memory serves as both a site of violence and of resistance. In telling their stories, survivors directly challenge official narratives and reclaim a legacy of resistance to colonialism and oppression; speaking out poses a powerful threat to private and state elites who benefit from collective forgetting.