Imminent Threat to Guatemala’s Historical Archive of the National Police

Published: May 30, 2019 – Update for Guatemala Police Archive under Threat posting

Morales Government Tightens Grip on Massive Human Rights Records Trove 

Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019– The National Security Archive joins our international and Guatemalan colleagues in calling for the protection of the Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN) of Guatemala, which faces new threats to its independence and to public access to its holdings.

In a press conference on Monday, May 27, Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart signaled his intent to assert his agency’s control of the AHPN including the prospect of new restrictions on access to the archived police records and possible legal action against “foreign institutions” holding digitized copies of the documents. Degenhart made his statements as a crucial deadline approached to renew an agreement that for a decade has kept the archive under the authority of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The agreement now appears to be in jeopardy.

The hollowing out of the AHPN is taking place at a time when justice and human rights initiatives are broadly under siege in Guatemala and follows months of uncertainty for the celebrated human rights archive, which has been institutionally adrift since its long-time director, Gustavo Meoño Brenner, was abruptly dismissed in August 2018.

Since its discovery in 2005, the AHPN has played a central role in Guatemala’s attempts to reckon with its bloody past. Its records of more than a century of the history of the former National Police have been relied upon by families of the disappeared, scholars, and prosecutors.  The institution has become a model across Latin America and around the world for the rescue and preservation of vital historical records (…)

Para seguir leyendo:

From Silence to Memory – Report on the Guatemalan police archives now available

From Silence to Memory – Report on the Guatemalan police archives now available in English, with preface by Kate Doyle

Washington, DC, December 4, 2013 — The landmark report on the Guatemalan police archives, From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the AHPN, has been made available in a new English translation issued by the University of Oregon. The publication — with a preface by the National Security Archive’s Kate Doyle — is a history of the National Police before and during Guatemala’s armed conflict. It is also a guide to navigating the millions of pages of police files preserved and publicly accessible in the Historical Archive of the National Police, and an analysis of several cases of police involvement in operations of surveillance, illegal detention, interrogation, execution, and cover-up — all committed in support of a brutal counterinsurgency state.

NY Review of Books features the report in an article by Stephen Kinzer
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 448
Posted December 3, 2013

Edited By Kate Doyle
For more information contact:
Kate Doyle 202/994 7000 or

National Security Archive

Indicted for Genocide: Guatemala’s Efraín Ríos Montt

The photographs of Guatemala’s disappeared spell “Justice” and “Genocide” on a fence near the Public Ministry’s headquarters in Guatemala City. (Credit: H.I.J.O.S.)
Indicted for Genocide: Guatemala’s Efraín Ríos Montt
U.S. and Guatemalan Documents Trace Dictator’s Rise to Power
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 419

Posted – March 19, 2013
Edited by Kate Doyle

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2013 – The groundbreaking genocide trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, retired army general and former dictator of Guatemala, opens today with the presentation of the prosecution’s first witnesses. The trial will take place despite repeated efforts by defense lawyers to halt the proceedings with legal appeals and a bid for amnesty. On March 12, the Constitutional Court rejected the amnesty request once and for all, clearing the way for the trial to begin.

Along with his former intelligence chief, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, Ríos Montt stands accused of masterminding a violent counterinsurgency campaign during his 1982-83 regime that sought to destroy opposing guerrilla forces and anyone who supported them. The indictment accuses the two men of responsibility for fifteen documented massacres in the Ixil region of the country’s Quiché department, resulting in the deaths of 1,771 unarmed men, women and children (…)

For ongoing trial summaries, commentary and analysis, see a new Website launched by the Open Society Justice Initiative in partnership with the National Security Archive, the International Center for Transitional Justice, CEJIL and the Guatemalan on-line news site Plaza Pública:

El Diario Militar de Guatemala y el Derecho a la Verdad

Analista Experta Testifica ante el Tribunal Internacional

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 378
3 mayo 2012

National Security Archive senior analyst and director of the Guatemala Documentation Project, Kate Doyle provides expert witness testimony in the case of the Diario Militar
En el 25 abril de 2012, Kate Doyle, analista y directora del Proyecto de Documentación de Guatemala en el Archivo de Seguridad Nacional, testificó ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) (no bec that’s the acronym for commission, just leave it out) durante el cuadragésimo quinto periodo extraordinario de sesiones en Guayaquil, Ecuador. El peritaje de Doyle fue seguido por preguntas del equipo legal de los peticionarios, y 45 minutos de preguntas por los siete jueces. Los representantes del Estado no tuvieron preguntas.

El texto incluido es un extracto del peritaje de Kate Doyle.
Las notas a los “slides” en el testimonio refieren a una presentacion de power point.
Versión inglesa:

The Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala – The National Security Archive

The Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 373
Washington, D.C., March 1, 2012 — Today marks the 30th anniversary of the coup that propelled General Efrain Rios Montt to power and launched the most violent period of the 36-year internal armed conflict in Guatemala. The National Security Archive and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) mark the coup anniversary with the publication today of NACLA Report on the Americas, “Central America: Legacies of War,” containing feature article by National Security Archive’s Kate Doyle on “Justice in Guatemala.”

The University of Texas at Austin – Documentos Digitalizados del Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala


A product of broad international collaboration, these digitized documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) aim to facilitate scholarly and legal research into a vast cache of historical documentation. The discovery of the National Police Historical Archive in 2005 opened an extensive and timely resource for the study of Guatemalan history and human rights in the region, spanning a broad array of topics from Guatemala’s armed conflict between 1960 and 1996 to the sexually transmitted disease experiments performed at the behest of the United States government in the 1940s. The Archive is presented online here for the first time.

This site currently includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.

To make best use of this resource, we suggest taking some time to read the tutorial and examples found on the About this Site page, learning the organizational structure of the National Police, and then patiently exploring the archive. This is not a full text search engine like Google, but rather the digital iteration of what you would encounter working in the massive paper archive in Guatemala. When you go to an archive, you will seldom find the exact document you are looking for right away. It will often take many hours of investigation to find relevant documents, if they exist at all. This Archive is arranged in accordance with the professional archival principles of provenance and original order to reflect the Guatemalan National Police administrative structure, and understanding that structure is a valuable way to start.

AHPN: Digitized Documents is a collaborative project of the University of Texas’ Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and Benson Latin American Collection, with the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala. We hope this resource will serve to promote a better understanding of the social and political history of Guatemala and will facilitate the search for truth and respect for human rights in the region.

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