On Friday, Dania and I had the privilege of attending the presentation of a groundbreaking report entitled “Criminalization of the LGBTI Population in the Police Records, 1960 – 1990.”
The event was held at the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN), a warehouse where millions of official police documents had been unceremoniously dumped over decades.
Thirteen years ago, this treasure trove of historic documents was rediscovered by the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and the process of preserving, digitizing, and cataloguing these institutional records began.
The archival work of the AHPN has played an important role in the prosecution of human rights violations and war crimes that occurred during Guatemala’s armed conflict. The information has also been essential in the reconstruction and recovery of Guatemala’s historical memory.
One of the least-discussed aspects of Guatemala’s recent history, however, has been the discrimination, exclusion, and repression of the LGBTI community at the hands of State actors and institutions.
Katia Orantes, one of the lead AHPN investigators, shared some of the chilling documents that revealed how men and women were targeted, arrested, and mistreated by the National Police simply because of their sexual orientation.
The director of the Archive, Gustavo Meoño, stated that documents confirm many instances where people were charged with the “crime” of being homosexual, despite the fact that homosexuality isn’t illegal.
Fernando Us, a gay rights activist, spoke eloquently about the challenges of being gay in Guatemala. “I think that reaffirming my cultural identity as a Mayan later helped me to assume my sexual identity… Our LGBTI community also faces discrimination, hate, and exclusion. More than struggling for the right to love who we please, we are fighting for the right to life itself.”
La criminalización de la población LGBTI en los registros policiales 1960-1990 (this is a very large pdf file, en español. 421 mb)
La persecución a homosexuales y el “álbum del terror” de la Policía, por Javier Estrada Tobar, de Nómada (article, español)
El Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (website, español)
Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (website, English)