Unearthing the Dead, and Finding Solace

Most of you probably know Xeni Jardin for her fun, flirty postings on the Boing Boing uberblog. But beneath the beneath the glam exterior is one bad-ass reporter.fafg.jpgTake the epic, five-part, multimedia series Xeni has put together for NPR, after spending a month in dirt-poor, war-ravaged Guatemala. "An estimated 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala's decades-long civil war, and another 100,000 'disappeared,'" she writes, to introduce the first installment. "Many survivors are still searching for the remains of their loved ones."

One group of forensic anthropologists is using technology to help the country come to terms with its past. For 12 years, the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) has been exhuming clandestine graves that hold victims killed in political massacres.Most of the people killed in Guatemala's 36-year civil war were indigenous. The army's scorched-earth policy sometimes leveled entire villages.In traditional Mayan culture, the dead and the living are believed to be in constant communication. For many thousands of Mayan people in Guatemala, however, their dead have never been able to rest. Neither have the relatives they left behind.Now, archaeologists and anthropologists with the FAFG work to identify the human remains, record evidence for possible trials, and return the dead home for reburial.
You can listen to the audio for part one of the series here or here. And be sure to check out Xeni's narrated tour of the FAFG's facility here.
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