"In my pre-university education, they did not show me the true history of my country. I confronted it when, at the age of 15, I went to the central park and found a demonstration of people with photographs of their disappeared. It was that day that I began to investigate and scrutinize the story that does not count and that I do not understand. "
Candy Véliz, the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG)
Nearly four decades of internal armed conflict (1960-1996) left Guatemala with 200,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced people. They also left 45,000 disappeared. The vast majority of them haven’t been found and relatives, mostly ethnic Mayan, continue the desperate search for their loved ones. The elder the relatives get, the greater the fear that they will die with no further news.
The Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) has been working since the 90’s to find and identify the disappeared. They have been able to deliver several identified skeletons to the relatives so that they could give them a dignified burial according to the local customs.
The moment of the reunion with the remains of the disappeared person, who has often been missing for over thirty years, is very intense. For the first time the relatives can mourn the death of their loved one and possibly receive information about the circumstances related to the death, and close a circle of uncertainty.
Due to the lack of contribution from the Guatemalan state, FAFG has to rely on the support of international organizations to carry out the investigations. Guatemala currently experiences several legal processes of greater importance for crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the CAI. Forensic reports elaborated by FAFG serve as evidence in the trials.
In the Guatemalan capital there are denialist movements insisting there was no genocide and they claim the exhumed remains are the result of the earthquake that shook the country in 1976, in spite of the bones being found in the mass graves tied hand and foot and with blindfolds.
Candy has not personally received any threat but does not stop fearing them as the clarification of the cases of genocide is shaking the structures of the deeply embedded political power. The legal processes deal with fugitives from justice, ex-military politicians who enjoy immunity, significant delays due to delaying maneuvers and other measures planted to protect the rule of impunity.