By Jack

Imagine the unknown. 

Unfortunately, it’s unimaginable to any degree of certainty. This is how the families of desaparecidos feel: confused and uninformed about the whereabouts of their loved ones, whether killed or disappeared during the Mayan genocide in Guatemala. The bodies were either dumped unceremoniously in mass graves or stored away inside the grounds of military bases. 

These victims and desaparecidos (disappeared people) were lost to time, but luckily someone is there to help. The team at FAFG is working to reunite families with skeletons. 

However, exhuming so many graves (the number of victims is unknown but estimated at 200,000 according to some sources) can be disturbing for some individuals. At FAFG, the team works with a necessary amount of objectivity, making difficult decisions. They operate under the following understanding: 

—”we are doing scientific work. This is not a humanitarian agency.”

They also stress the importance of educating people about the genocide. Most don’t learn of it in school, as our dear chaperones can testify. 

But as one FAFG anthropologist notes, we shouldn’t normalize the event. That would imply that this matanza of so many people was a good or routine thing. 

Terrible happenings do occur and must be dealt with as such. We may worry about terrorism, whether foreign as many U.S. citizens fear or domestic as was this heinous act perpetuated in Guatemala. But as FAFG shows us, there is indeed justice remaining in country and world. 

3 responses to “Apareciendo”

  1. Mary Helen Avatar
    Mary Helen

    I saw a documentary on this topic a few years ago…at the time I had no idea there was a Mayan genocide. I can’t imagine never knowing what happened to a loved one. I will never be able to comprehend how a group of people can decide that another group’s life has no value. It’s tragic. I’m so glad that there is a light shining on the Mayans and this atrocity.

  2. seahorsesports Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this important reflection Jack

  3. dpyles Avatar

    Jack, thank you for this. I knew nothing of this either until recently. If you are interested (or anyone following this blog) there is an excellent podcast on one such event. It is an episode of This American Life – What Happened at Dos Erres. I highly recommend it if you would like to know even more.

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