Paula Garcia Tufro

Paula (ADVIMA, Guatemala): Paula was studying for a Master’s degree in the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown, at the time of her fellowship on Guatemala. Her full name is being withheld at her request.

First Visit to the Community Museum

02 Jun

I went on my first visit to the Community Museum last week. The museum itself is pretty basic but houses an incredible story and represents the pain of many. The first room contains in large part the story of local customs, but also has some exhumated bones on display. Buckets of bones are showcased in a glass covered display. The image is striking. Even more so as one enters the second room which is a small room plastered with 5 x 7 pictures of those who perished during the massacres which occurred between 1980 and 1984.

Men and women, young and old, and children alike, all victims caught in the middle of a brutal internal conflict. The walls also contained stories relaying the context leading up to particular massacres. One that struck me the most occurred in the town of Chichupac, where the military had announced that they would arrive on Jan. 8, 1982 with toys for the kids in celebration of the New Year. Enthusiastic about the celebration, the local people decorated the town and were present for the occasion in large numbers.

The forces arrived and indeed gave presents to the children, and then as morale soared, they dismissed the women and children and tortured and murdered all of the men. One of the victims who was being interrogated about who the guerrillas were, was tortured, had his penis cut off and then proceeded to cut the part of his nose off, leaving him bleeding to his death. Those who were tortured were many, and that is only one horrific story among many others.

I plan on returning to the museum regularly, each time focusing on one story, or the story of any one town in order to try to grasp the horror that their experiences represent, which will help me put this whole experience into perspective.

Posted By Paula Garcia Tufro

Posted Jun 2nd, 2005

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