Panel Discussion: Guatemala: Can There Be Peace With Justice After Genocide

November 26, 2012 10:27 am Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies, Faculty, Provost

The Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies will host a special panel discussion on Guatemala, titled “Can There Be Peace With Justice After Genocide?” on Wednesday, November 28, at 11 a.m. on the second floor atrium in the Leonard Lief Library. This event is free and open to the community.

Professors Timothy Smith of Princeton University and Alexander Aisenstadt of Yale Law School will explore political participation and rule of law in Guatemala’s fledgling democracy. In the early 1980s, some 200,000 Guatemalans were killed or disappeared during the genocidal counterinsurgency war. Today, the people of Guatemala are still coming to terms with what happened. On October 4, 2012, the Guatemalan Army and National Police killed eight unarmed Maya peasants when they opened fire on a peaceful protest organized by 48 Maya K’iche’ communities in Totonicapan.

Professor Smith’s presentation—titled “Truth-Voting Against the Past: Electoral Participation and Political Subjectivity in (post) War Guatemala”—will draw from his fifteen years of fieldwork. He will offer an ethnographic portrait of how participation in electoral politics has provided an organic outlet for indigenous mobilization and declarations, in addition to shaping local understandings of indigenous citizenship and political subjectivities.

In his presentation, titled “From Law Books to the History Books: The Role of International and National Courts in Enforcing Human Rights in Guatemala,” Professor Aisenstadt will focus on proper implementation of human rights law in cases of torture, forced disappearances and amnesty laws. It will include a presentation of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights´ ruling in the “Las Dos Erres Massacre” case. Professor Aisenstadt will share his own experiences directing a recent ruling on the crime of torture and an ongoing case on the rights of indigenous communities.

For more information about this event, e-mail


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