Internationally recognized human rights activist and author Jennifer Harbury will present a talk on "Guatemala and the CIA" at 7 p.m. April 1 in the East Ballroom of the Lory Student Center at Colorado State University.
Harbury is an attorney and author who has been working on human rights for the people of Guatemala since 1984, when she first began traveling to refugee camps in that country. In 1985 and 1986, she traveled extensively throughout the country compiling human rights information and assisting victims of military repression.
During a recent four-country, four-day Central American tour, President Clinton acknowledged that U.S. participation in atrocities against tens of thousands of Guatemalan citizens during the Cold War "was a mistake." A United Nations-sponsored Truth Commission recently issued a report blaming the United States government and American corporations for helping to fuel the long civil war that killed or left missing over 200,000 people, most of them Maya Indians. The commission has concluded that the U.S.-supported Guatemalan military was responsible for the most of the atrocities committed during the war.
Harbury’s involvement in human rights issues took a personal turn in 1990 when, while interviewing Mayan women at the battlefront in Guatemala, she met her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, or Commandante Everardo. They married in 1991 and the following year, her husband disappeared during a brief skirmish. The Guatemalan army claimed he had died in combat, but Ms. Harbury learned from an escaped prisoner of war that he had been captured alive and was being secretly detained and tortured. Over the next three years she repeatedly sought assistance from U.S. officials to rescue Everardo. In 1995, Harbury at last learned that he had indeed been captured, tortured and killed by the Guatemalan military.
Since then, Harbury has filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained access to government files revealing that both the CIA and the State Department knew of Everardo’s capture and that, as late as 1993, knew that he was alive but withheld this information from his wife. Last year she went to trial against the Guatemalan army before the Inter-American Court of the Organization of American States and she has filed a civil rights case against the United States Department of State, the CIA and the National Security Council. Her 1997 book, "Searching For Everardo" (Warner Books), chronicles her long campaign to save her husband, and then to uncover the truth about his death.
Harbury’s talk will included details about her search for her Everardo, a discussion of the current political climate in Guatemala and a screening of her 1994 interview on "60 Minutes." She also will discuss the independently-produced documentary "Dirty Secrets: Jennifer, Everardo and the CIA in Guatemala," which was released last year.
Harbury’s presentation is sponsored by The Office of International Programs, African Student Association, Latin American Studies Organization, The Department of Political Science and the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity.
The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Martha Denney at (970) 491-6793.