GUATEMALA: OPERACION SOFIA
Environmental violence and genocide in the Ixil Triangle
The violence inflicted by Guatemalan state security forces — both military and military-organized civil militias — on the Ixil Maya people in the El Quiché region of West Guatemala (1978–84) amounted, according to Guatemala’s Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) to “acts of genocide.” But genocide is not always only the killing of people, for it also includes “environmental violence”: the destruction of the natural and built environment as part of a military strategy.
This investigation attempts to read the environment not just as the location of conflict, but as the means by which it unfolds. This research formed a report produced on behalf of the prosecution in the case of genocide committed against the Ixil people. Our research was included in a series of trials taking place in Guatemala, including the retrial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt in the National Court of Guatemala and in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Forensic Architecture team
- Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator)
- Paulo Tavares (research & coordination)
- Daniel Fernández-Pascual (research)
- Hannah Meszaros Martin (research)
- Maya Cueva Franco (research)
SITU Research team
- Bradley Samuels (Managing Partner)
- Akshay Mehra (research)
- Charles Perrault (research)
- CALDH – Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (Rodrigo Salvadó and Edwin Cannil)
- ODHAG – Oficina de Derechos Huamanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (Raul Najera and Ana Carolina)
Forensic Architecture’s research on environmental violence was designed to complement other studies of the conflict. In order to demonstrate the multifaceted nature of environmental violence, our research was presented in the form of a web-based interactive cartography produced in collaboration with SITU Research. The platform is able to establish the spatial and temporal relation between otherwise separate pieces of evidence.
The Mineral Geology of Genocide
Guatemala Investigation: The Mineral Geology of Genocide (part II). Forensic Architecture and SITU Research. Realisation by Steffen Kraemer.
Animated composite mapping
The transformation of the Ixil area between 1979 and 1986. Topographic model with a projected sequence of composite maps demonstrating how deforestation, pattern of massacres, destruction of native villages, and construction of new “model villages” transformed the area between 1979 and 1986. Visualization: Forensic Architecture and SITU Research.