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Kathleen Studer and Severino Pérez Guatemalan Human Rights collection

Identifier: MSS-745-BC

Scope and Content

The collection documents human rights violations in Guatemala between 1980 and 1996. Materials include human rights reports from international non-governmental organizations, reports from women's and child advocacy groups, publications from popular and revolutionary groups, and information about U.S. policy towards Guatemala. This collection contains news clippings, articles, legal briefs and papers, scholarly papers, legislation, and ephemera. The collection is organized into the following nine overlapping series.

Human Rights Violations - contains extensive reports written by the Commission on Guatemalan Human Rights, the Guatemalan Church in Exile, and the United Nations, among others. These documents expose the grim reality of human rights abuses suffered by the Guatemalan people over a period spanning three decades. This box also contains information that was distributed to U.S. citizens about the situation in Guatemala by U.S. human rights groups such as the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala. Also included are articles written by both Guatemalans and citizens of the U.S. discussing the violations and describing the daily life of people living in constant fear as well as in dire poverty.

Military Repression and Genocide - consists of lists of those murdered, personal testimonies of abuse, and descriptions of massacres and documentation of the specific cases of Dianna Ortiz and Jennifer Harbury/Efraín Bamaca Velásquez. Lists were compiled by human rights organizations and include a separate list of women and children murdered. This series also includes information about the military's counterinsurgency campaign and plan of action as well as condemnations of military tactics published by human rights groups.

Campesino and Revolutionary Movements - contains information and extensive publications about the Unidad Revolucionario Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG), including transmissions from their radio station, La Voz Popular. This series also contains information from other campesino, labor, and revolutionary groups as well as publications and documentation about the peace process in the mid-nineties.

Social and Economic Consequences of Low-Intensity Conflict and Military Repression - is divided into sub-series; the economy, health and environment, children, and refugees. Materials include papers as well as official documentation from the Guatemalan government and international human rights organizations, an extensive collection of news clippings on child trafficking, and many documents from the Asociación de Refugiados Dispersos de Guatemala (ARDIGUA.).

Church - contains organizational documents, articles, publications and news clippings about Christian base communities, agrarian reform led by Father Andrés, repression of the church, evangelicalism, the religious right, and U.S. religious influence.

Women - includes information from Women for Guatemala (a U.S. - based group), IXQUIC, La Mujer en Guatemala, and other Guatemalan women's organizations. The series documents topics such as women and labor, oppression, murder, sexual abuse of women, and women's rights within a regional focus.

Elections/Guatemalan Politics - consists of articles, news clippings, and official documents from Guatemala including information and campaign pamphlets from Guatemalan political parties, from the Organización del Pueblo en Armas (ORPA), and from U.S. organizations critical of Guatemalan politics.

U.S. Policy - includes extensive documentation by NGO's of U.S. support for repressive Guatemalan governments and policies, congressional documents, intelligence documents, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices produced by the State Department, information regarding U.S. connections with international lending agencies and international arms deals, and documentation of the U.S. government,s partnership with business interests in Guatemala.

Press - includes reports, articles, clippings, and publications from EnfoPrensa, as well as Guatemalan news reported in the Mexican press, "News about Guatemala" (a news service), news briefs about human rights abuses; and criticism of Guatemala in the mass media.


  • 1927-1996
  • Majority of material found within , 1980-1996


Language of Materials

English Spanish; Castilian

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical and Background Information

The United Nations Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) concluded in its final report in 1999 that genocide was committed in Guatemala during the period of 1981-1983. In these two years, tens of thousands of indigenous civilians were murdered by Guatemalan troops under a "scorched earth" policy, more than a million were displaced in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, and 626 massacres were committed in Mayan villages. Both Presidents Efraín Rios Montt and Lucas García, who were in power during this time, were graduates of the U.S. military's School of the Americas training school in Athens, Georgia. It is estimated that during the 34 year civil war in Guatemala, 200,000 people were assassinated. While the Guatemalan government claimed that it was suppressing communist rebels, it was actually murdering guerillas, peasants, students, labor leaders, journalists, and lawyers, among others. The U.S. Government and U.S. private companies, specifically the CIA, have been implicated in supporting numerous repressive Guatemalan governments and in training and supporting the Guatemalan military.

Kathleen Studer and Severino Pérez worked in Guatemala a total of 13 years as missionaries to the Mayan people. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1981, they worked in solidarity with the people of Guatemala, organizing nationally to bring information about the plight of the people to the North American public. The principal organization with which Studer was involved was "Women for Guatemala," a non-profit organization with chapters in 20 of the United States, and Guatemala. Women for Guatemala sought to link women from both countries to promote understanding of the struggle for self-determination of the Guatemalan people. The organization facilitated educational programs in the U.S., organized cultural events to raise awareness of the Guatemalan situation, published literature, and channeled material help for Guatemalan refugee and displaced women and children.

The collection was accumulated by Studer and Pérez between 1982 and 1995. It contains printed material gathered from many sources both inside and outside of Guatemala, and was used to solicit interest and solidarity for the Guatemalan people especially during the 1980's and early 1990's. Many well-known Guatemalans and other reliable sources contributed to the collection.


7 boxes (6.45 cu. ft.), plus 1 oversized folder


The collection documents human rights violations in Guatemala between 1980 and 1996. Materials include human rights reports from international non-governmental organizations, reports from women's and child advocacy groups, publications from popular and revolutionary groups, and information about U.S. policy towards Guatemala.


The collection is arranged in the following 9 series:
  1. Human Rights Violations
  2. Military Repression and Violence
  3. Campesino and Revolutionary Organizations
  4. Social and Economic Consequences of Low-Intensity Conflict and Military Repression
  5. Church
  6. Women
  7. Elections/Guatemalan Politics
  8. U.S. Policy
  9. Press

Related Archival Material

Sam L. Slick Collection of Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Political Ephemera Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Photographs, slides, postcards transferred to Kathleen Studer and Severino Pérez Guatemalan Human Rights Pictorial Collection.

Many publications have been transferred to UNM University Libraries for cataloguing. They can be searched using the title, "Kathleen Studer Guatemalan Human Rights collection."
Finding Aid of the Kathleen Studer and Severino Pérez Guatemalan Human Rights collection, 1927-1996
For Approval
Processed by Lucy Grinnell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131