Guillermo Chen

campaigner for justice for the Maya massacres

Guillermo Chen is the director of “Fundaciòn Nueva Esperanza” (FNE), set up in Guatemala in 1997 to provide educational resources to the young Maya Achi, struggling against the extreme poverty of their families and their community. As a human rights activist, Chen works in synergy with Amnesty International, encouraging survivors of the massacres perpetrated against the Maya population to break their silence and testify about the crimes committed during the repression of the Seventies and Eighties, under the military dictatorships of Lucas Garcia and Rios Montt.
On 5 March 2008, precisely when these witnesses were testifying in court, two unidentified men fired six shots at Chen’s house, in Rabinal, in the department of Baja Verapaz. Guatemala’s human rights organizations denounced this intimidation as a clear attempt to force Chen, his family and his colleagues to withdraw their denunciation of the atrocities and the persecution of those responsible.
In February 2008, FNE arranged for a delegation of survivors and witnesses of the army’s Rio Negro massacre to travel to Spain to testify in the trial of the former president of Guatemala Efrain Rios Montt and other former high-ranking officers accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The defendants, however, remained in Guatemala where the Constitutional Court rejected the Spanish court’s request to extradite them.
Considering the total impunity of those guilty of these tragic events, Chen is fighting for the Guatemalan authorities to acknowledge the on-going discrimination suffered by the native peoples of his country.

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