Guatemalan society is characterized by the most glaring social extremes of any Latin American country. Poverty is widespread, particularly in rural areas and among the indigenous population. This, together with racism, high levels of crime, a culture of impunity and limited educational opportunities and access to information, constitutes a major barrier to development in the country. Neither the press freedoms enshrined in the constitution nor Guatemala's Freedom of Information Act are reflected by the journalistic realities on the ground. Most of the country's media companies are financed by a handful of influential business leaders and tend to serve their owners' political and economic interests rather than the needs of the general public. These issues are negatively impacting respect for human rights in Guatemala and are preventing ordinary Guatemalans, particularly indigenous groups, women, children and adolescents, from accessing their economic, social and cultural rights. However, 2015 was a historic year of change for Guatemala. Mass protests swept the country and the former president was sentenced to prison on corruption charges. New initiatives began springing up across the country, along with demands for more comprehensive and transparent information from the government and administrative bodies.
DW Akademie is actively responding to this social transformation. We're supporting those who want to initiate change, whether that involves fighting corruption or demanding greater political and administrative transparency. We're helping with initiatives launched by courageous citizens that call for greater accountability in the political arena, and we're tracking administrative reform. Our country program for Guatemala is groundbreaking in its consistent implementation of DW Akademie's human rights-based approach with its focus on civil society rather than on journalists and the media. Our barometer of success is access to information – particularly with regard to processing the country’s violent past. There is still a resounding silence in Guatemala when it comes to crimes committed during the country's civil war, which was the bloodiest in all of Latin America. DW Akademie, with its special perspective as a German organization, has supported the development of a new way of confronting the past that seamlessly combines digital innovation with journalistic expertise. The resulting flagship project is unique in Latin America and is attracting global attention. It is a kind of interactive "Memory Map" that can be populated with information, reports and pictures related to the victims of the war. Journalists and students throughout the country are now getting involved in the digital project, helping to expand it with the aim of stimulating ever broader social debate.
Funding sources: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country coordinator: David Olmos
Operational locations: Guatemala City, Huehuetenango and Sayaxché
Local partners: Universidad Rafael Landívar,Instituto Guatemalteco de Educación Radiofónica(IGER),Congreso Transparente, Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN), Centro de Reporteros Informativos sobre Guatemala(CERIGUA), Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos(CALDH), Instituto Guatemalteco de Educación Radiofónica(IGER), Comunicares, Plaza Pública, Puente Belice, Radialistas Apasionad@s