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Panzós Commemorates 1978 Massacre—
And Years of Persecution that Followed

May 28, 2010

March to rebury massacre victims on 20th anniversary of Panzós massacre, May 29, 1998.

El lunes 29 de mayo de 1978 soldados del ejército de Guatemala dispararon sus armas de fuego en contra de una manifestación pacífica de campesinos q'eqchi's, en el municipio de Panzós, Alta Verapaz. El resultado inmediato fue la muerte de muchos campesinos entre hombres y mujeres, niños y ancianos. La acción militar en contra de los campesinos de Panzós fue el inicio de una operación de persecución que duró dos años y que tuvo como objetivo aniquilar toda posibilidad de resistencia de la población en contra de la opresión y explotación de los terratenientes locales. Dicha acción del ejército guatemalteco sería el preámbulo del genocidio que se cometería en años posteriores en contra de la población de origen maya de Guatemala, y que destruyó 626 aldeas y causó la muerte de más de 200 mil guatemaltecos.

En conmemoriación de los 32 años de la masacre el 28 de mayo a las 10 horas (12 hora de New York) se presentará el libro "La masacre de Panzós: etnicidad, tierra y violencia en Guatemala" de la antropóloga estadounidense Victoria Sanford.

Lehman Professor Dr. Victoria Sanford Presents New Book About the Incident

On Monday, May 29, 1978, Guatemalan army soldiers opened fire on a group of q'eqchi' Maya who were peacefully protesting in the main plaza of Panzós, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. The death of many indigenous men, women, children, and elderly was the immediate result of this attack.

This military action against the peasants of Panzós was followed by a campaign of persecution that lasted two years, with the goal of eliminating any protest against oppression and exploitation suffered at the hands of local plantation owners. This military campaign was the precursor for the Guatemalan army genocide against the Guatemalan Maya that would follow in the years to come, ultimately destroying 626 villages and taking the lives of 200,000 Guatemalans.

In commemoration of the thirty-second anniversary of the massacre, U.S. anthropologist Dr. Victoria Sanford of Lehman College presented her new book La masacre de Panzós: etnicidad, tierra y violencia en Guatemala in the municipal auditorium of Panzos on May 28, 2010. This international event was in Spanish with translation to q'eqchi' Maya and some English translation. Panelists at the event included representatives of international and national human rights organizations, writers, poets, local teachers, and survivors of the Panzós massacre.

Dr. Sanford is spending the 2009-2010 academic year as a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Center for International Conflict Resolution. She has conducted extensive research in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and South Africa and has won several fellowships, awards, and honors. These include a Bunting Peace Fellowship from Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a U.S. Institute For Peace grant, a Rockefeller Fellowship for research on violence, a MacArthur Consortium Fellowship, an Early Career Award of the Peace Society of the American Psychological Association, and a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

In her research, Professor Sanford applies anthropological and archaeological methods to obtain evidence about past human rights violations. Her previous books include Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala (2003); Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy, and Activism (2006); and La Masacre de Panzos: Etnicidad, tierra y violencia en Guatemala (2006).

A graduate of California State University in Sacramento, she earned a master's with distinction from San Francisco State University in the society and culture of Central America and a master's and doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University.

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Dr. Sanford also presented her work on feminicide at the Latin American Faculty on Social Sciences (FLACSO) on May 20 in Guatemala. You can see her bilingual (Spanish/English) presentation at USTREAM.

You also can read more about the presentation in the Global Post.