Guatemala’s Search for Peace and Justice

If memory and pain would have a physical shape and size in Guatemala it would be a cardboard box with black marker writing on it.

The nearly four decades of civil conflict in Guatemala had a profound impact on the social fabric of the country, where many innocent civilians were killed. Left-wing guerrilla’s fought for a more just and equal society in which human rights were respected. This social movement was met with brutal military force by the government to silence people’s voices. To leave no trace of their victims they were buried in mass graves.

Up until this day this leaves surviving family members in uncertainty, whether their missing family members are dead or alive. Juana and Jacinta are confronted with reality when boxes with the remains of their family members who disappeared during the internal armed conflict are unpacked. After the identification the remains of all family members were prepared for a community burial ceremony in Nebaj. For Juana and Jacinta a process of closure can now begin after a long period of uncertainty. “The bones spoke to me today. Now I can finally get some rest. Without the identification of remains I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of them being alive somewhere”, said Juana. It’s a living memory for many, while 45.000 people disappeared and more than 200.000 people were killed during the 36-year internal armed conflict in Guatemala.