By Victoria Sanford (auth.)
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Extra resources for Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala
23 So now, as I contemplate theoretical issues involving redress for past human rights violations in transitions from military regimes, I do it through the multiple lenses of survivors of La Violencia. The collection of testimonies has forced me to challenge every aspect of my research from the complex and contradictory perspective of survivors. 24 I also believe that I must honor the words shared with me, lived experiences of violence as understood by survivors. The taking of testimony, the interview, provided a space for survivors (1) to tell of their experiences, (2) to teach a larger community of their history (and of this they were always conscious), (3) to create an open space and be accompanied as they came to terms with what had happened to them as individuals and communities, (4) to provide context to the physical exhumation, and (5) to be heard and have their words valued rather than negated.
Army officials on the one hand speak in a collective official voice, yet on the other also convey something of their own individual experience. ”19 Shifts in their perceptions represent changes in official and individual understandings, as well as the coming to terms, both institutionally and individually, with new political space created by physical and discursive evidence gathered in exhumations. Archival research in municipal offices, particularly reviews of death registers from 1978 to 1990, provided critical data documenting waves of violence at the local level.
These clandestine cemeteries were hidden in that they were silenced, but survivors, witnesses, and most community members know the locations of these graves. Thus, they are truly clandestine only in the official negation of their existence and the silence imposed on communities. They are cemeteries, albeit illegal cemeteries of mass graves, in that despite the imposed silence and fear, community members clandestinely left flowers at the grave sites to acknowledge their relationship with the deceased.