The Guatemala Human Rights Outreach Program (GHRO), financed by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, was implemented by Creative Learning Inc. from February 2007 to December 2008. GHRO enhanced the capacity of human rights organizations to coordinate and build partnerships with the Government of Guatemala (GoG) to investigate, document and prosecute high profile cases of human rights violations that occurred during the armed conflict.  GHRO also worked to strengthen public outreach. The program expanded the efforts of the “Working Group for Justice in Guatemala” (WG), which supports judicial processes to resolve human rights violations.  It also used a radio soap opera to encourage citizens to rely on Rule of Law processes to educate and advance human rights issues. In addition, GHRO also supported the operationalization of the National Commission for the Search of the Disappeared (NCSD) and the creation of a consolidated database for the National Registry of Victims of Disappearance (NRVD).

Traditionally, CSOs and government representatives have often been at odds regarding the investigation of human rights abuses during the armed conflict.  The formation of the Working Group, in itself, represents a major achievement in bringing disparate actors together to work on specific cases.  The creation of the WG, part of Creative Learning’s unique strategy, demonstrated the commitment of the CSOs and the GoG to search for solutions to the obstacles and bottlenecks that inhibit progress in human rights cases

Support to Operationalize the National Commission for the Search of the Disappeared (NCSD)

GHRO supported the creation of the NCSD by fostering dialogue between human rights organizations, the Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights and other judicial authorities to establish a unified vision of NCSD’s role within Guatemalan society.  Through a grant to the International Center for Human Rights Investigations (CIIDH), GHRO also promoted advocacy efforts to sign off on the mandate that would officially create the NCSD and approve its operating budget.

Create a Consolidated Database to Operationalize the National Registry of Victims of Disappearance (NRVD)

GHRO supported the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) to design and develop a database with the PDH that would consolidate databases of victims of disappearances. FAFG gathered data from key organizations by using their records for disappeared persons. The result was the completion of 8,083 profiles. In addition, FAFG developed searching modes to produce cross reference data reports and formatted the database to be a web-based structure.

Radio Soap Opera

One of the key components of this activity was to produce fifteen new chapters of the radio soap opera El Trapiche and to coordinate outreach activities in local communities to encourage people who witnessed human rights violations to contact government officials. El Trapiche, an imaginary village in Guatemala, created the backdrop for human rights storytelling and enabled people to reflect on their daily lives as well as human rights abuses during the 36-year conflict. El Trapiche was broadcasted on several local radio stations. Our subgrantee, IGER, also held art workshops, contests and drama presentations to involve local community youth and students to highlight the themes of the radio soap opera, human rights and rule of law.

Three High Profile Cases

GHRO supported local CVO’s FAMDEGUA, GAM and ADIVIMA in their work to advance cases of human rights violations. The cases included the Panzos massacre, the Rabinal Military Post human rights abuses case and the case of the disappearance of the three founders of GAM..  GHRO supported the construction of their litigation strategy and reorganization of their case by contracting The Myrna Mack Foundation (MMF) to provide technical support to all three organizations in improving their legal strategies.

Photos by FAFG