The sample documents below are provided as points of entry into the expansive holdings of the AHPN Digital Archive. They are meant to provide a glimpse of the broad spectrum of different types of documents that can be found in the archive. For step by step instructions on how to locate documents in the archive, see the AHPN Digital Archive User Guide. For a detailed explanation of the structure and functions of the National Police, central to the archival organization of the AHPN records, see From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the AHPN.
1. Master Registration Card Records (Registro Maestro de Fichas)
This group of records belongs to a kind of internal database used by the National Police to link individual citizens to different documents in the archive related to interactions they had with the Police or other authorities. One type of activity listed on these cards was surveillance against individuals or groups.
Below is the card for Edwin Rolando Mencos Castillo. The first line reports that he “has been singled out for belonging to the Leftist Factions.” Subsequent lines report numerous subsequent encounters he had with the Police:
Here is one of several AHPN Master Registration Card Records for Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the democratically elected President of Guatemala who was overthrown in a CIA-led coup in 1954:
The AHPN Digital Archive contains at least 10 pages of cards with dozens of entries for Jacobo Arbenz, covering the period from 1951 before he was elected to 1966, a few years before his death in exile .
A selection of internal CIA documents detailing its role in the coup can be found in the National Security Archive’s Electronic Briefing Book CIA and Assassinations: The 1954 Guatemala Documents.
The AHPN Digital Archive also contains several pages of Master Registration Card Records on another prominent Guatemalan politician, Manuel Augusto Colom Argueta. Colom Argueta founded numerous progressive political parties and movements and was elected Mayor of Guatemala City in 1970. After suffering several unsuccessful attempts against his life, Colom Argueta was assassinated in March 1979 in a carefully planned military operation, his body receiving 45 bullet wounds. The cards below give a glimpse at the extensive surveillance Colom Argueta was subject to prior to his death.
2. Operational Plan Documents
The AHPN Digital Archive contains thousands of documents detailing all aspects of National Police operational planning. Due to the fact that the Archive was discovered fortuitously in 2005, and to the AHPN’s commitment to unrestricted access to the records, the documents are not redacted in any manner. Many documents in the archive are, like the one below, stamped “SECRET”. The example below is page one of a three page planning document for a police operation that took place in Guatemala City on the occasion of a popular religious procession, the “Quema del Didablo.” Under I. A. and B. below, note that for purposes of this operation, the police define “enemy forces” as “all common or delinquent subversive groups that operate in the country,” and define “friendly forces” as “the National Army and the Treasury Police.”
3. Prosecutions in Guatemala: The case of Edgar Fernando Garcia
Thousands of pages of AHPN documents have been used in dozens of court cases in Guatemala that are part of efforts to both bring to justice those responsible for committing crimes in conjunction with human rights abuses that occurred during the period of the armed internal conflict, and to ensure that such crimes are not repeated in the future. One of the most high profile of such cases was that of student leader and union organizer Edgar Fernando Garcia, who was shot and kidnapped by government security forces in February 1984. His body has never been recovered.
Below is a two page excerpt from one of a total of 661 documents investigators have found in the AHPN archive that are related to the Fernando Garcia case.
Links to additional documents related to this case, as well as photos and a detailed description of the facts surrounding it, can be found at the National Security Archive’s 27 Years Later, Justice for Fernando Garcia.