In December 2004, I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala with a group of volunteers to teach English to Maya university students.

While there two of our students mentioned obliquely their experiences surviving the civil war in their country. I was remembering their stories when I got on the plane to return to the States. Our flight was delayed and to pass the time I asked a young American girl sitting next to me what she was doing in Guatemala.  “Oh, I’ve lived in Antigua my whole life.” Eager to learn more from a different perspective I asked, “What was it like growing up there during the war?”

She was well-brought up, I was a middle-aged gray haired woman asking her a question. She turned to me politely, “What war?”

That’s the question I returned to Guatemala in March 2005 to answer. What War? places survivors’ testimonies in the cultural and historical context of the 36 year long Guatemalan civil war. Testimonies in the book are verbatim but were, of necessity, shortened.

Here the testimonies are presented in their entirety. Names and places have been changed to preserve the anonymity of those who spoke candidly about their experiences during the civil war.

We invite anyone who wishes to contribute their testimony to contact us.  This is an ongoing process.

Read more…

– Laurie Levinger