Back in late February Álvaro Colom (official website), Guatemala’s president announced that he would be opening the country’s military archives to the public. The announcement was made in honor of Guatemala’s Día Nacional de la Dignidad de las Víctimas del Conflicto Armado Interno (National Day for the Dignity of Victims of Internal Armed Conflict). During his speech Colom acknowledge that the country will not be able to heal unless the state assumes responsibility for the violence that was perpetuated against the country’s indigenous population.
The archives should contain information on military activities during the country’s civil which lasted over 30 years, between 1960 and 1996. It is estimated that at the time as many as 2000,000 civilians were killed and about 50,000 were disappeared. The archives should also shed light as to the location of unnamed graves. In 1999 the UN truth commission estimated that about 90% of these deaths could be attributed to the army and state.
The military establishment and former national leaders have not welcomed this announcement, although it is expected that the opening of these archives will go forth since is it mandated by a presidential decree.