Abby Weil

Abby Weil (ADIVIMA): Abby completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she had the opportunity to serve as a tutor in Lima, Peru. At the time of her fellowship she was pursuing a master of arts in public anthropology at American University in Washington, DC. Abby also interned for the Guatemala Human Rights Commission-USA, promoting human rights in Guatemala through research, educational outreach and advocacy.

Nunca Mas

07 Jun

As I was leaving the office at ADIVIMA on my first day of work, forensic anthropologists were bringing small coffins filled with the remains of those indigenous Mayans killed by the army in the “internal conflict” and buried in clandestine mass graves. The relatives of the deceased were gathered around the coffins placing flowers, burning incense, and holding pictures of their loved ones.

This scene is not uncommon here in Rabinal, Guatemala, and the massacres occurred over twenty years ago, in 1982. So many years later the residents of Rabinal are still experiencing the horrors of the violence and the loss that the internal conflict produced. The numerous orphans, widows, and incomplete families that the internal conflict produced are those that ADIVIMA supports and wants to advocate for.

“Nunca Mas.” It is a common phrase used by politicians, journalists, activists, as well as survivors of violence and acts of genocide. The phrase, “nunca mas,” or “never again” was uttered after the Jewish Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and is the title of an official investigation into the violence of the internal conflict here in Guatemala.*

It seems so ironic that each time that we, as humanity, are confronted with extreme violence we are outraged and vow that of course, “we will never allow this to happen again.” And yet, so easily our memory is erased, and how quickly our attention is diverted.

The peace accords enacted to end the internal conflict in Guatemala were signed in 1996, however the people here are still suffering innumerable acts of everyday violence. An anthropologist that I truly admire, Nancy Scheper Hughes, has a theory that large acts of violence are simply a grander manifestation of the structural violence of everyday inequality and injustice.**

The small everyday violences of hunger, lack of education, poor healthcare, and oppression are, unfortunately, alive and well here today in Guatemala. While these have always been problems in Guatemala, I have no doubt that they were exacerbated and worsened by the internal conflict.

We as an international audience have to remember our promise of “never again” and begin to expand our definition of the experience of violence as daily and ongoing, despite peace accords or treaties. Peace is not simply the lack of violence, it is the presence of social justice. This is what ADIVIMA is working towards, and I hope that working with them I will be able to move beyond the “nunca mas,” to a more productive attitude of “que mas” or, what more can I do?

*Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of
Guatemala. Guatemala. Never again! REHMI:
Recovery of Historical Memory Project. The
official report of the Human Rights Office,
Archdiocese of Guatemala. Maryknoll: Orbis
Books; 1999.

**Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois. (2004) Violence in War and Peace. An Anthology.

Posted By Abby Weil

Posted Jun 7th, 2007


  • E-Dubbs

    June 13, 2007



    I am so proud of you for going to Guatemala to make a difference and following your dream! I admire you so much! I am so glad that you survived the earthquake…I could not live without you! All of us miss you so much and are anticipating your return to the United States of America! Keep up the great work! I love you!


  • Stacy Kosko

    June 16, 2007


    You wrote:

    “Peace is not simply the lack of violence, it is the presence of social justice. This is what ADIVIMA is working towards, and I hope that working with them I will be able to move beyond the “nunca mas,” to a more productive attitude of “que mas” or, what more can I do?”

    Very, very well put. You are talented, Abby, but we knew that. 🙂

  • Avery

    July 27, 2007


    Wow. That was very well put. THe connection between the Holocaust and the tragedy that you are still seeing is very true. Nunca mas.

  • Sarah

    July 31, 2007


    It is basically history repeating itself. We need more people like you that actually realize that and wake up.

    I admire what you are doing. =)

  • CWA

    August 15, 2007


    Corrupt governments seem to be the main cause of genocide. More precautions should made in 3rd world countries in order to prevent dangerous and corrupt leaders from taking over.

  • Han Jun

    August 16, 2007


    I wish more people would remember what happened in the past. It seems like most people either don’t know or don’t want to talk about it.

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