Soon enough, we were back on the road, this time to Antigua, the old colonial capital of Guatemala. There are few words to describe how precious this little city is, full of colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, little cafes and restaurants, horse-drawn carriages and these tiny little 3-wheeler taxis that look like they belong in London.
Here we went to CIRMA, the Center for Investigation for Mesoamerica. We spent our morning looking through old archives of newspapers, article clippings, photos and attempted to find any information pertaining to the construction of Chixoy Dam and the massacres. We gathered a few documents but not many.
I soon came to find out that CIRMA is also home to some declassified documents of US foreign policy towards Guatemala and Latin America in general. I attempted to find these the following day, and was able to find some declassified CIA books that discussed US involvement in military coups and other big business involvement, but not the key 3 volumes that I’d been told about. Another trip.
We traveled back to Guate to meet with the director of the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He had been involved in some of the excavations that had been carried out, and knew much about Río Negro. The museum even housed all the pieces that had been excavated, but housed them somewhere in the basement.
He proceeded to tell us that the excavations were “salvation excavations” since there had been only a limited time. Only enough was excavated to know sufficient information about the community and the archaeological period. And then the site was flooded. Ceremonial sites, additional priceless archaeology, all was flooded.
After much talk, he finally let us see the pieces that had been excavated and led us through a small staircase down to the basement of the museum. Here we saw precious archaeology of the Río Negro community, and even took some photos. I dare say that this would most likely not occur in the US. I consider myself very lucky to have seen such items.
Posted By Carmen Morcos (Guatemala)
Posted Jun 9th, 2004