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Visión Guatemala

1998-2000:
Building Bridges of Trust
by ELENA DÍEZ PINTO
Introduction
We did not put our ideas together. We put our purposes together.
And we agreed, then we decided

POP WUJ
Q’iches’ sacred book

... we have good news to tell We began to examine different
you, goods news about some- prospects and one who was most
thing that has taken place in helpful in terms of trying to point in
Guatemala, which has been the right direction at that moment
conceived by Guatemalans and was Richard Aitkenhead who had
concerns us all, and all of us just finished a scenario building for
can feel part of a spirit generated the Canadian Agency for Interna-
through Visión Guatemala. tional Development. And he had
Gonzalo de Villa, promoter been subject to at least several diffe-
rent techniques as to how this could
The Visión Guatemala project be done. And so Richard Aitken-
came to life in November 1997. The head began to excite us as to the
Peace Accords between the Guate- prospective of being able to put
malan Government and the URNG1 together a very heterogeneous group,
had been signed less than a year be- to think of the country counting
fore, at the end of the armed conflict years down the line thinking of it as
lasting over three decades. Once the a twenty-twenty type of situation. It
conflict was over, the Guatemalan even matched in terms of a twenty-
society demanded the creation of twenty vision, more or less. But the
spaces wherein to build trust, parti- original idea was to have a look to
cularly among the political elites, in the future and what were the things
order to facilitate fulfillment of the that could be done in order to be up
Accords. there and to how will this mesh with
Several alternatives for the the Peace Accords.
creation of a heterogeneous group Director of the Soros
were analyzed. Ricardo Stein, Secre- Foundation of Guatemala, member
tario Técnico de la Paz (Technical of the constructors’ group
Secretary for Peace) at the time, re-
counts how this process initiated:

1
Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (National Revolutionary Unit of Guatemala),
representing the union of the four rebel guerrilla groups: EGP (Ejercito Guerrillero de los Pobres),
FAR (Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes), ORPA (Organización del Pueblo en Armas) and PGT (Partido
Guatemalteco de Trabajo).

Learning Histories 79
The Secretary of SEGEPLAN , 2 sented diverse ideological trends.
former director of Asociación de Ge- This group is responsible for selec-
rentes de Guatemala (Association of ting and convening 39 influential
Guatemalan Managers)–AGG, par- leaders to represent the plurality of
ticipated in initial conversations, the country.
from the government’s perspective. In addition to promoting trust
The design of the project begins, and among various political elites, Visión
the United Nations Development Guatemala intended to generate a
Programme (UNDP) is requested to long-term national agenda—to be
prepare it. shared by all sectors of the society—
Owing to the neutral role under- that would serve as a conducting
taken by the external cooperation, it thread, and support and be supported
was absolutely necessary to incor- by the Peace Accords.
porate its assistance at that particular
moment. Furthermore, promoting ...we asked from the be-
the project under the United Nations ginning, is this an effort running
flag would grant it impartiality. parallel to the peace process?
An institutional frame is initia- Anything that we do here aims
lly created around the project. The at strengthening the Peace
private sector participates through Accords process. We are not
Asociación de Gerentes de Guate- building a forum parallel to the
mala,3 offering a somewhat balanced institutionalization of peace. In
platform upon which to promote the other words, instead of being a
project. The Guatemalan Govern- supportive commission, it aims
ment participates through the Peace at forming illuminated groups;
Secretariat and SEGEPLAN; and UNDP that is the risk... Luckily, there
is the sponsor. But it was obvious was political will to avoid this.
that, in order to successfully convene It is made possible by the peace
the various sectors of the society, a process. The attitude assumed
more extensive and representative by the participants is that this
group would have to be involved. effort be seen as one supportive
Therefore, seven prominent persons, of the peace process rather than
four men and three women, of the a parallel collateral effort, as
Guatemalan society are invited to expressed at the end in the axis
integrate the promoting group. As a around which the scenarios and
group, they enjoyed credibility, had the vision are built. The peace
great convening power and repre- accords are the axis and that, I

2
Secretaría General de Planificación y Programación de la Presidencia (Economic Planning General
Secretariat).
3
The AGG is an association under the private sector.

80 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
think, is an extremely valuable instance, for the participation of
element. former guerrilla members,
Former guerrilla activist which would have been other-
wise impossible. The prevailing
The Peace Accords also in- atmosphere proclaimed the need
clude a nation’s agreement to start building a different
throughout the whole docu- Guatemala departing from the
ment. Therefore, we based our Peace Accords.
ideal scenario on the Peace Promoter
Accords. We cannot visualize
a Guatemalan nation that does Furthermore, constitutional
not include the commitments reforms were discussed in order to
derived from the peace negotia- grant legal viability to the Peace
tions and subsequent agree- Accords and a popular consultation
ments. We believe this to be a was forthcoming for their approval.
basic take-off platform. Upon The Comisión de Esclarecimiento
this platform we shall build, we Histórico (Historical Elucidation
shall continue to improve so that Committee) was in charge of drafting
–if we are very ambitious– in 20 a report recounting the pain and
years time, I believe, we might hardships experienced by several
be witnessing a different Gua- sectors of the population during the
temala. armed conflict.
Retired General At the same time, there was a
feeling that polarization had resulted
Visión Guatemala sought to from meetings not yet held among
strengthen the dialogue culture and the various sectors of the society
the creation of consensus around rather than from the war itself.
concrete and conflicting issues in the
country. And, finally, the project Throughout the whole
intended to influence the national negotiation process and after-
programs of political parties in the wards, in the first implemen-
forthcoming general elections at the tation phase, Peace Accords
end of 1999. had created social and political
conditions which promoted
improved relationships among
the sectors. However, this does
1 VIsión Guatemala not mean that all was harmo-
nious among such diverse
1.1 Context and Conditions in interests but that polarization,
the Country which characterized social
struggles in previous years, was
The Peace Accords facili- of a different dimension.
tated this meeting allowing, for Politician

Learning Histories 81
1.2 Timeline Table

Date Event
Nov ’97-Aug ’98 Preparation phase:
Prepared a project document and budget
Selected methodology and facilitator
Presented methodology and facilitator to potential team members
Approached donors
Integrated promoting group
Identified and invited team members
first information meeting
held weekly core team meetings

Aug. ‘98 First team scenario workshop at Panajachel, Sololá
44 participants; held Friday noon through Sunday
brainstormed initial 44 stories
decided on topics to learn more about (recent history, multiculturalism and Mayan
cosmovision and economic development)
video production crew attended

Selected and engaged experts
Aug-Sept ´98
Prepared summary of scenarios and transcriptions
Distributed various documents and papers to team members
held bi-monthly core team meetings
made further attempts to include politicians

Early Oct. ´98 Second team workshop at Panajachel, Sololá
Brainstormed additional 30 scenarios, adding up to 74 scenarios
Learning journey to largest indigenous NGO (CDRO)
Presentations and discussions with experts
held Thursday noon through Sunday
video production crew attended

Oct-Nov ’98 Prepared summary of scenarios and transcriptions
held bi-monthly core team meetings
made further attempts to include politicians
Technical secretariat + ad-hoc group of team members agreed on 5 draft scenarios

Early Nov ´98 Third team workshop at Panajachel, Sololá
Agreed on 3 draft scenarios and named scenarios
Discussed dissemination strategy
asked team members to suggest multipliers
video production crew attended

Nov ’98-Apr ’99 Prepared and distributed transcriptions
refined 3 final scenarios
wrote draft technical document and story book
proposals for additional project financing/approached donors
produced short video for donors

82 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
prepared guidelines for strategic thinking and reflection workshops
prepared information and documentation for multipliers

First information meeting with multipliers
First training workshop on use of guidelines for 60 multipliers
Feb ’99
Fourth team workshop at Panajachel, Sololá
test draft document and story book
End of April ’99 Discussed results of Historical Clarification Commission and Constitutional
Reforms with invited experts, politicians
Held Friday noon to Sunday

Printed 8,000 copies of technical document, 20,000 copies of story book
Prepared and distributed transcriptions and national launch of VG
May ’99 Prepared press reports for major newspapers
Mail out invitations to embassies, donors, political parties, business groups,
universities, indigenous, human rights, business, the media and other key-decision
making groups

National launch; attended 800 people
Beginning of dissemination process
Jun ’99
Started bi-monthly newsletter
30 presentations to key decision making groups, including the Presidency, the
media, universities, business groups, political parties, Ngo, indigenous groups, etc.
Jun -Dec ’99 5 reflection and strategic thinking workshops

Fifth team workshop in Antigua Guatemala
joint meeting team members+multipliers Visión to create Grupo Vision Guatemala
End of Nov 99 Redefined purpose and intention of the project
Reviewed dissemination process and decided on next steps

40 additional presentations to key decision making groups
20 additional reflection seminars with government officials, artists, indigenous
Jan-Oct 2000 groups, grassroots groups, university professors and students, communicators
Sixth team workshop in Antigua Guatemala (May)
Contributed to UNDP-Guatemala Human Development Report (The Inclusive
Force of Development 2000)
Trained 36 trainers of the Municipal Development Institute (INFOM)
Trained 35 grassroots and community facilitators

25 reflection & strategic thinking workshops w/ municipal-level leaders
prepared and tested guidelines for intersectoral dialogue workshops
Mid Oct 2000
First intersectoral dialogue workshop the regional level in Panajachel, Sololá
40 leaders from Escuintla
held Friday through Sunday
defined key strategic areas for the development of Escuintla
established individual commitments, and follow-up committee

Learning Histories 83
1.3 Summary of the Scenarios sense of a north to which it is poin-
ting. In this scenario, advances in
The scenario team developed three political, economic and social life
stories of how Guatemala might occur side-by-side with regressions.
develop over the next 20 years: There is economic growth along with
unequal participation in its benefits;
multiculturalism along with exclu-
The Illusion of the Moth sion and discrimination; and citizen
participation along with apathy and
The moth’s path is troubling: it flies lack of representativeness. Environ-
alone towards whatever light it sees mental degradation is accentuated.
and as a result often gets burned. In The state is incapable of achieving
this scenario, economic conditions real fiscal reform. Reconciliation and
do not improve and diversity and dialogue coexist with deep wounds
multiculturalism are not really taken and fear.
to heart, so discrimination of all types
persists. National reconciliation is
shallow and polarization and social The Flight of the Firefly
conflict continue. Certain sectors cry
out for political messianism and The light of each firefly radiates to
authoritarianism. Labor instability others and this creates a larger unity;
and unemployment rise and inter- a group of fireflies breaks down the
national cooperation decays. The darkness. In this scenario, a will
economy is characterized by short- exists to recognize our history and to
termism and tax revenues are not construct a model where tolerance
sufficient to pay for social necessities. and educational transformation crea-
The national spirit is pessimistic, te multiculturalism and eliminate
mediocrity prevails, the rule of law discrimination. Holistic develop-
is absent, and impunity remains. The ment is reflected in a nation with its
process is one of wearing down, with own identity, and with pluralism and
expectations unmet and solidarity fairness, the rule of law and the
eroded in the face of individual agen- genuine consensus. The democratic
das. There is no vision. state grants equal opportunities to all.
A fiscal pact reduces gaps between
sectors. Citizen participation and
The Zigzag of the Beetle productivity increase. Optimism
spreads with the real reconciliation
The back-and-forth flight of the that accompanies sustained and fair
Beetle is erratic and without any economic growth.

84 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
2 Findings4
2.1.1 Methodology
Visión Guatemala is, in a
certain way, a parable of the The methodology was not only
best that could happen to this innovative but also highly effective
country. for group work and extremely valua-
Promoter ble in encouraging mutual approach
among group members:
The findings below suggest that
Visión Guatemala encouraged rich I had never participated in a
and intense personal learnings and similar experience.... the mere
reflections due to very specific fac- fact of being requested to
tors, and that the project’s influence approach somebody whom I
may be observed in at least two least knew in order to discuss
levels: first on those who partici- issues at a personal level,
pated; and second on the country. directly, well........ that really
led to mutual interchange of
experiences and closeness in a
2.1 Factors enhancing group learning very short span of time. The
and reflection Vision Guatemala exercise was
valuable in terms of proving that
At least six important elements it is possible to establish lasting
enhanced in-depth learnings and links of understanding and co-
reflections within the group: llaboration if the adequate
methodology is applied.
2.1.1 Methodology Former Secretary of Peace
2.1.2 A group embodying the
plurality of Guatemalan society
2.1.3 Informal dialogues 2.1.2 A group embodying the plu-
2.1.4 Discovering the power of rality of Guatemalan society
collective creation
2.1.5 Conditions and location of the The promoting group selected 39
venue prominent leaders from various
2.1.6 Logistic support and technical sectors of the society. This group
conducting included indigenous leaders as well

4
The findings described in the following pages are the result of 15 interviews to promoters and
constructors of Visión Guatemala in August 2000, which were based on a research protocol. The
questions led to reflection and brought forth observations and learning. Preliminary findings
were presented to a larger group of Visión Guatemala, which included some of the people
interviewed.

Learning Histories 85
as leaders from non-governmental of the human rights area, for
organizations and the human rights instance, an area outside my
area; businessmen, government daily occupations. And I also
officials, journalists, retired generals, tried to understand the view-
politicians, scholars and other points of some of the human
national personalities. The group, rights leaders, which differ from
although incomplete, is perceived in mine at a personal level; the
general as a large and representative death penalty issue, for ins-
sample of Guatemalan society. tance. To discuss with someone
Group members were chosen on who thinks that the death
the basis of their individual qualities penalty should not exist left me
and openness to a wide scope of wondering. I have not yet found
perspectives. They participated on a solution. I also had the oppor-
a personal level; in other words, they tunity to talk with a former
did not represent any specific sector minister of National Defense
and, therefore, felt free to participate and with a guerrilla leader. Yes,
openly without mandates. on a personal level, the various
Several participants expressed conversations I held left a deep
that the group lacked more leaders impact on my mind. As far as
of leftist ideologies and social personal enrichment, I bene-
movements, more young people and fited more from these corridor
more women. And many felt that dialogues.
more politicians should have Businessman
participated.

2.1.4 Discovering the power of
2.1.3 Informal dialogues collective creation

Informal dialogues encouraged per- Many participants were surprised to
sonal approaches –which otherwise discover the group’s capacity to
would not have taken place within create. It made no difference if it
the room– and fostered trust among were dreams, utopias, rules of the
the participants game or scenarios:

Casual meetings greatly en- I think that very few people
riched me. ...... personal con- have the privilege of collective
versations with some of the dreaming. The power of collec-
participants whom I could never tive dreaming is intoxicating.
have otherwise approached, the The fact that you can sit and
leaders. I looked for any oppor- begin to converge on a series of
tunity at every moment to talk issues in which you are not just
to the leaders of diverse visions; making it up but you are

86 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
actually trying to root it in and careful answers from those
reality. To be able to not only who listened.
root it in reality but also to grasp Retired General
it up with all of your strength
so that you can in fact envision
what you sense. Where people 2.1.5 Conditions and location of the
are actually making a contri- venue
bution to the detail, to fleshing
out the structure that has been Visión Guatemala created a positive
agreed upon. That sensation is spirit that fostered opening. The
very powerful. It’s powerful to beautiful place selected for the venue
the point of being contagious, also contributed to this spirit. For
to the point of saying that this many participants, it felt as a “re-
has to be repeated. treat” aimed at setting their minds
Former Technical to reflect about the reality of Gua-
Secretary of Peace temala and its possibilities as a
nation:

Establishing the rules of the A certain atmosphere must
game allowed for free, direct and be generated in order for a good
courteous communication. It also deal of energy to start adding or
encouraged a spirit of joint respon- multiplying in a group of such
sibility and commitment. The per- diversity. I strongly believe that
sons interviewed continuously the proper atmosphere is im-
referred to this collective construc- portant. I believe it is also im-
tion: portant to take people away
from their daily routines, to
In the first session, the isolate them, to place them un-
project facilitator informed us der different circumstances, far
that it was necessary to establish away...... I think this enabled
the rules of the game, a series us to investigate and also gave
of principles that would serve as us a sense of purpose that could
the basis of our work and hardly be achieved in the city
discussions. These rules helped where we are constantly encir-
us to keep our discussions on a cled by our personal worries. I
low key, particularly when they also believe that the variations
involved massacres, indigenous in the approach methodology
discrimination, the effects of were most useful. Finally, the
war on the civilian population, location of the venue was simply
army participation in the war, beautiful.
etc. They also helped us to feel Promoter, priest
free to talk and to expect respect

Learning Histories 87
2.1.6 Logistic Support And Tech- For many, their participation in
nical Conducting Vision Guatemala was an unprece-
dented personal experience that left
Logistic support and technical con- a deep imprint in their minds. It im-
ducting were aspects that enhanced plied forsaking their prejudices,
the development of Visión Gua- opening up to others’ viewpoints, and
temala in providing the necessary learning to listen and to be tolerant.
structure to make participants from
such diverse groups feel comfortable. When I finally decided to
open my mind and forsake my
prejudices, I learned from peo-
2.2 Influence on participants ple whom I would have never
approached. I learned from
I came to the conclusion that them as persons, at a personal
guerrilla activists are somewhat level, but also about some as-
right, that the private sector is pects that represented their
somewhat right, and I stopped ideologies. It was extremely
being suspicious of priests. important........ someone
Journalist recounted a massacre. Several
businessmen spoke of their
I learned to listen. I learned experiences with kidnapping. It
to see and to discover the great is then that one begins to un-
richness inside others and inside derstand why these people beca-
myself. me hardened and full of hate
Politician and resentment because these
experiences are granted little or
The greatest richness that no value, depending on a per-
Visión Guatemala has produced is its son’s position.
influence on those who participated Promoter
in the scenario building process.
2.2.2 Discovering the Human Di-
mensions
2.2.1 Change of mental maps
We are unaware of the great
I believe the greatest contri- richness in others. We do not see
bution of the project is that the it... there is a lot, quite a lot, to
country has now a group of per- learn from people who, frankly
sons who can, and have the capa- speaking, one would never have
city to, see things from a diffe- considered as possible sources of
rent perspective and, therefore, learning.
can help others do the same. Government officer
Government official

88 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
Group members learned to get manner. This moment marked
acquainted with each other; they the beginning of a very impor-
found converging points and felt tant change, and we continually
empathy for others’ realities: referred to it afterwards. That
a young man would suddenly
The group gained the call us old pessimists was a very
possibility of speaking frankly. important contribution.
Things could be said without Promoter, priest
upsetting the other party. I believe
this helped to create a favorable
atmosphere in which to express, 2.2.3 Generation of Spaces for Mul-
if not the truth, certainly each tisectoral Meeting and Dialogue
person’s truth. I do not know if
an absolute truth was ever I felt that interchange was
found. I do not believe it exists very important, the fact that we
but we surely made great progre- could express our ideas and
ss in trying to fit in another per- opinions. Contradictions cer-
son’s shoes. This, I believe, was tainly arose but we were able
finally achieved. In the end, and to settle them. I still do not share
particularly after listening to one some ideas, but now we can
of the stories, I understood and talk.
felt in my heart all that had ha- Human rights activist
ppened [in the country]. And
there is a feeling that we must The possibility of creating a
struggle to prevent this from multisectoral space for dialogue is an
happening again. innovation for Guatemalans. The war
Politician years seriously restricted approaches
among sectors of a diverse nature,
One anecdote reveals how fostering a culture of confrontation.
much the group learned through the Therefore, one of the major contri-
participation of three young men: butions of Visión Guatemala to the
society is the promotion of such a
The first round in the first space.
session was extremely negative
because we were all looking All of us have something to
back to the events of recent learn from the dialogue, ..... it
years, which had left a deep is fundamental. However, it is
imprint on us. Thus, a first also true that the struggle to
moment full of pessimism was establish a dialogue is really a
generated. Suddenly, a young struggle. It is not a given. In
man stood up and questioned our history, is confrontation;
our pessimism in a very direct we are suspicious of each other;

Learning Histories 89
we turn away from each other, 2.2.4 Establishment of Networks of
and we attack each other surrep- Relationships and Trust Building
titiously.
Promoter I would never have imagined
seeing a former member of the
army intelligence and a former
member of the guerrilla intelli-
The general consensus was that gence together in a hotel bar.
dialogue continues to be the best Politician
option in building a future.
A truly special atmosphere of
I learned that dialogue is trust was generated in the group
possible even between people of throughout the duration of the
different ideologies; that it is scenario workshop.
possible to reach consensus, to
have a common vision and that, By the end of the third se-
in the end, even in the light of minar, there were not 40 people
different ways of thinking, the but 40 friends. I had the feeling
objective that we all pursue is that it was only a lot of friends
the same. In other words, the getting together. And, when
well-being of the community you are friends, you trust each
and the possibility of living in other.
peace and prosperity. There- Scholar
fore, the first thing was to
demonstrate that dialogue is Personal approaches, unthink-
possible. A second element that able in previous time, were taking
was very useful to me was to place:
discover different visions, diffe-
rent ways of learning about the Sometimes during the work-
reality of the country and shops we were asked to walk in
drawing paths leading to the pairs after meals. On one occa-
objective that each of us has sion, I had the opportunity to
chosen in seeking common well- pair up with a journalist who
being. On a personal level, it writes a column and is inclined
helped me get acquainted with to the right. When our walk
many distinguished persons that came to an end, he said, “Look,
I had not met before. I was very I had never had contact with a
excited to participate. guerrilla activist before.” To-
Businessman day, we enjoy a nice relation-
ship. Both of us write for “Siglo
21”, and he has been very su-
pportive in terms of my partici-

90 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
pation in the newspaper, arise –because we never assu-
although it is obvious that our med that we would agree on
ideas do not coincide. It was everything– we respected all
different with former Army positions. But the creation of
members, Balconi and Bonilla, this physical spirit as a Visión
who had participated in the group in charge of constructing
peace process and, therefore, a scenarios was one of the greatest
positive atmosphere was crea- project achievements.
ted. I observed many things and Human Rights activist
lived through many experiences.
There is this person who is the Contact has been kept among
director of a research center. group members; occasions for getting
She is like the tic-tac of the together have been sought, and this
basically more powerful sectors. is a positive sign. The dimension of
A fluid conversation with relationships and trust achieved in
someone who represents this the group are confirmed in the fo-
way of thinking, extremely llowing set of statements:
neoliberal, was difficult to
imagine. Yet, the conversations I was happily surprised to see
allowed for communication the photograph of a member of
levels. I have invited this person Visión Guatemala in the
to my courses in the university newspaper. The Rector of Uni-
and have asked her to explore versidad del Valle is seen wal-
there. She has invited me to king on the street beside a for-
participate in her events and, mer guerrilla activist, a former
naturally, we have our own commander, on their way to the
points of view. The truth of the Congress to submit a fiscal
matter is that this would not agreement proposal. That was
have been possible before our a former guerrilla member with
Visión Guatemala experience. the rector of a highly conser-
Former guerrilla activist vative university! I am sure this
was, to a certain extent, a pro-
duct of Visión Guatemala.
An esprit de corps was gene- Journalist
rated despite the fact that the parti-
cipants came from opposite sectors: The relationships which I
established have allowed me, for
A positive learning was that, instance, to knock the doors of
although we came from opposite many people from Visión Gua-
sectors, it was possible to gene- temala and to ask for their
rate this esprit de corps. Aside support on behalf of the cam-
from discrepancies that might paign that we are launching in

Learning Histories 91
Quetzaltenango [Campaña por who were not accessible to us
la Tolerancia y Convivencia three or four years ago.
Pacífica]. For instance, I in- Scholar
vited Otilia Lux de Coti, whom
I know to be very busy person.
I also invited Helen Mack and 2.2.5 Collective Learning about the
Dr. Gonzalo de Villa. They, as Country’s Reality
well as other people, have su-
pported the campaign that we I think that Visión Guate-
are implementing in Xela. mala removed our fears and
Under different circumstances, vanished our ghosts. So, we
if this atmosphere of trust had said, “think of it as a phase in
not been generated, I would not history that we were unable to
have dared ask them, knowing overcome”. Today is a different
how full their agendas are. The story, another phase of Guate-
atmosphere of confidence that malan history. Today we under-
was generated was very inte- stand that problems are not
resting. People opened their solved with bullets but with a
hearts. Personal histories were “please sit down here and we
recounted. If empathy is not will sit over there, and let us
felt, people do not have the talk, let us find joint solutions”.
courage to tell their stories. At Minister of Culture and Sports
the personal level, I was very
much impressed by two posi-
tions at a certain moment. In To discover the dimension of
previous years, it would have Guatemalan reality was one of the
been impossible to conceive an most outstanding learnings for the
Army member and a former members of Visión Guatemala. This
guerrilla activist telling their was achieved, on one side, through
personal experiences. It was the participation of experts who were
really interesting to hear Gene- invited to dictate on three themes
ral Balconi or Mauricio López that the group had selected. In the
Bonilla recounting war stories second workshop, the experts made
while aware of the presence of presentations on economic develop-
their former enemies. ment, multiculturalism and Mayan
Indigenous journalist Cosmovision, and the recent history
of Guatemala. These presentations
... the best thing is that the generated intensive dialogue and
elite of the country can talk revealed new aspects about the
now. We can make a telephone country.
call and we can talk to people

92 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
The discussion around multi- issue in Guatemala. This has
culturalism, for instance, revealed a been fully understood by many
reality that had remained hidden persons. In my opinion, it was
from many people. One of the busi- one of the themes that we were
nessmen referred to what he actually able to elaborate on: the possi-
felt during this discussion in the bility of multiculturalism. In
following terms: “it seemed as though other words, for each of us to
we were living in two different coun- live within our culture and have
tries.” respect for all other cultures. It
is a synergetic and most enr-
Experts on multiculturalism iching process for the Guate-
were engaged in the second malan nation. In my opinion,
workshop. The group agreed this was one of the most outstan-
that very little was known about ding issues.
indigenous reality. This is Businessman
understandable. People would
rather go to the United States At the workshop, the faces of
or other countries in Europe racism were exposed:
than to the hinterland of Gua-
temala. Consequently, they I remember that, in an effort
knew these countries better than to demonstrate that he was free
their own. The decision to bring from prejudice, one Business-
aboard experts on these themes man said, “I studied in Cobán;
was most suitable. Quite a we always liked ‘inditas’ (pejo-
number of participants have rative for indigenous women).
mentioned that the participation This was his way of showing
of experts on indigenous issues that he was not a racist... Other
was extremely valuable because women had to be convinced that
it allowed them to further un- racism was certainly an issue in
derstand the reality of the Guatemala. They declared:
country’. And, whether we like “Guatemala is not racist” be-
it or not, it is the reality of the cause they grew up in the capital
majority of the population. city or in a financial atmos-
Indigenous journalist phere, and live there. However,
the Visión Guatemala expe-
The group displayed a genuine rience has taught them that
interest in multiculturalism and was racial discrimination is certainly
able to assess the importance of practiced in Guatemala, al-
multicultural cohabitation: though not openly or actively.
It is a question of not having in-
I believe that multicultural digenous people present in their
cohabitation is an important world or interacting with them.

Learning Histories 93
Some members of indigenous learned –not learned but had to
communities have told us that admit without defense– that
poverty is more bearable than they had become the owners of
rejection. These persons from large extensions of land under a
the banking or financial world, political process (through govern-
where money is the main inte- mental concessions that gave
rest, found it hard to under- them land for coffee). Howe-
stand that being poor was more ver, when a peasant requests a
acceptable than being rejected. small plot of land from the go-
Scholar vernment, these landowners are
the first to oppose under the
Efforts to uncover the country’s argument that this is not a
reality included a learning journey to government function. Howe-
the indigenous organization CDRO.5 ver, three generations ago, that
Discovery of the indigenous world by very same function was the
some businessmen underscored this source of their present wellbeing.
journey. It was also very important for All statements were fully
the group to have appraised Gua- documented and explained by
temala’s recent history, that part which Arturo Taracena in a most aca-
is not found in official history books, demic manner. There were no
and also to have learned about it: insults. It was simply our history.
Scholar
When the history theme was
proposed, the fact that we do The presentations sensitized the
not know our own history, that group on the importance of having a
history has always been cen- national economic program that
sured depending on the author, would further the country’s social
we said: we can bring in histo- development. On the other hand,
rians who represent various the realities and multiple truths
ways of thinking, and this was carried in the collective memory of
accepted. The fact that, for Guatemalans were stripped down
instance, Arturo Taracena, a when members of this highly hete-
strict historian with a high aca- rogeneous group decided to open up
demic profile, could support the and share their intimate life stories:
issue involving the grant of large
estates and coffee plantations There were former guerilla
with proper documentation activists, former Army mem-
before important owners of co- bers who had actually fought;
ffee plantations... This oligarchy there were representative of

5
CDRO is the largest indigenous non governmental organization in the country with headquarters in
the department of Totonicapan, in the western part of Guatemala.

94 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
human rights groups who had directly or indirectly. It also
suffered on account of their brought to the surface our desire
direct relationship with human to establish a dialogue and to
rights violations and terrible know what could be proposed
human rights violations. There or done. I still remember when
were people like Helen Mack Ronalth Ochaeta talked about
who had endured the death of an exhumation. I believe there
her sister and her subsequent were people in the room who
long struggle against impunity. had never heard about anything
In other words, there were peo- similar. May be only those of
ple who had been deeply hurt, us who worked in the human
and this is another acknowledge- rights area.
ment that we all made because Human rights activist
they looked at the problem from
their particular point of view, The histories that told of
that it hurt because it had been community suffering by the
directed against each one of repression moved many people,
them. And there were moments particularly the facilitator, who
when all of us became conscious is an excellent facilitator. The
of the brutality. I cannot find magnitude of the tragedy has no
the words to describe, from a comparison. Nevertheless, it is
human point of view, the tragic not the same to see it in black
dimension of what the country and white figures than to hear
had to undergo during the war it recounted as an anecdote.
years. That helped sensitize the par-
Politician ticipants.
Former guerrilla activist
All interviewed persons made
reference to the power of personal Sharing these histories in an
histories, particularly within the atmosphere of tolerance and respect
context of armed conflict. allowed for the creation of group
spirit.
There is something that I
would like to underscore: I re- I was very moved by the
member very well when people histories. The energy produced
started talking about all the by their recounting and sharing
killings and genocide going on elicited a reflection about the
during war time. That was role each was playing from his/
quite a strong moment in which her particular position, natu-
group members became very rally, without much hope of
conscious of what the war had changing these attitudes. This is
meant for all Guatemalans, still painfully lacking. What

Learning Histories 95
really changed was the issue of page.... Consequently, what
tolerance in addressing various happened in this country was
issues. In my opinion, informal brutal... 30 years... But we
gatherings were very productive were aware of it! I was! I was
in terms of mutual approach. I a politician for a long time and
am certain that group spirit was this was one of the areas that I
created. We certainly respect worked with. I was even threa-
the position of others. There tened by military commissioners
prevailed an attitude of respect, on account of my political
tolerance and desire for liste- work. We suffered, but as
ning, and even for speaking and opponents, as enemies, always
making proposals. from our particular point of
Human Rights activist view. As far as I am concer-
ned, the workshops helped me
The openness, sincerity and understand this in its true hu-
honesty permeating these stories man dimension. A tremendous
gave a human face to the Guate- brutality! I was aware of it but
malan tragedy, allowing the group to had not experienced it. It is one
see and feel what others had expe- thing to know about something
rienced: and keep it as statistical data,
and another to actually feel
As to the history that he it....... And I think that all of
recounted, the one that caused us had to go through this pro-
such a great impact, a lot had cess. May be not all of us be-
to do with the fact that he cause each has a particular way
witnessed an exhumation so- of thinking and feeling. But I
mewhere in Rabinal. It was a am sure it happened to quite a
large field and he was suddenly few of those of us who were
called by the forensic anthro- there. I think that, after under-
pologists to see what they had standing this, everyone is co-
found..... evidence of the
mmitted to prevent it from ha-
skeleton of an unborn baby who
ppening again. Anybody that
had been buried, perhaps alive
was here has to be committed
or still in its mother’s womb, and
to prevent this from happening
the mother had been probably
in the future.
buried alive. That... that is the
Politician
history. That is one history, and
there must be a thousand like
When he finished recounting
it. There are a thousand histo-
his experience, profound silence
ries. All these deaths are con-
followed and the group bonded. It
tained in a document that has
was an important moment that each
been prepared by the Historical
Elucidating Committee, each of us remembers vividly.

96 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
In giving his testimony, he 2.3 Influence in the Country
was sincere, calm and serene,
without a trace of hate in his The influence of Vision Guatemala
voice. This gave way to the in the country is shown in at least
moment of silence that, I would three ways:
say, lasted at least one minute.
It was horrible! Like a very ■ Influence of group members on the
moving experience for all... If organizations, sectors or groups
you ask any of us, we would from which they were drawn
say that this moment was like a ■ Generation of strategic thinking
large communion. No one and conversation towards the
dared break the silence. The future
group included, let us say, an ■ Image of a plural group which rein-
academic class, Businessmen or forces the conviction that dialog
managers, who had always and search for consensus are po-
considered these issues to be ssible in the country
exaggerations or to belong to the
left side. Listening to a personal When the promoters of Vision
testimony really moved them. Guatemala assembled the construc-
Former Secretary of Peace ting group, they looked for influen-
tial leaders of various organizations
and spheres of society. These leaders
You become part of the have responsibility for running
silences. There’s this mood that’s certain part of the country, either
created. The group is bonded by because they hold public office,
very many different things. direct human rights organizations,
Silence has an incredible capacity are journalists, are political figures or
to bond. You simply remain because they are directing important
silent and nobody has to say academic centers. The impact of
anything. We’re there, all of us Visión Guatemala on the country is
together. That’s been a very in- reproduced from the influence these
tensive moment, a very dra- individuals exercise in the spheres in
matic moment. which they evolve.6
Promoter

6
At present in the Vision Guatemala Group there are one female Minister and one Vice minister
of Culture and Sports, the President of the Bank of Guatemala, the Guatemalan Ambassador
before the U.N., the Guatemalan Ambassador before the O.A.S., two former presidential
candidates, two university rectors and one vice rector, three female directors of the most important
research centers, four directors of important human rights organizations and nine journalists and
press reporters, among others. Other members of the group participating in unprecedented national
initiatives, such as in the Fiscal Agreement Commission, the Governance Pact, the Accompanying
Commission to the Peace Accords, and the Educational Reform, among others.

Learning Histories 97
I believe that in the case of One of the first impacts of Vi-
Visión Guatemala they have sion Guatemala occurred in the pro-
chosen social leaders who will cess of the constitutional reforms and
certainly play important public the popular consultation, as well as
roles. I think that the experience in the elections held in 1999:
is not only personal, but also
that in the measure in which ...the specific issues that can
personal attitudes change, the be pinpointed to the project that
practice of any person, inclu- began to appear in the political
ding public practice expresses scenario that could be bene-
the changes of attitudes that can ficial. One, that the candidate
take place. It is a fact that the of the government party, the
role of individuals is not fun- PAN at that moment, actually
damental in these historical discovered that a multiethnic,
processes because there are other multilingual group was doing
elements which accumulate the exercise. It became a con-
forces but that does not mean cern of how to deal with that
that individuals do not play a particular dimension of our
role, which is sometimes un- reality. I think that they had not
derestimated. In this sense, I been as conscious as in that mo-
believe that experiences such as ment. I think that the political
Vision Guatemala do contri- elite that were involved in the
bute or have a bearing in an exercise became very much
environment where it is more sensitized to the essential contri-
difficult to have a bearing. The bution that the constitutional
decisions or attitudes taken as reforms had to perform, and the
political realities are more Visión Guatemala group was
objective. committed to the contribution of
Former guerrilla activist reforms as a group, and it was
something that grew out from
This impact, of course, is fre- the group. It was not something
quently not direct and explicit and, that the group was indoctrinated
furthermore, it depends on at least into. In fact, this group had
three situations. First, individual been participating, I think very
learnings effectively achieved by strongly.
each of the participants; second, the Promoter
degree to which these learnings are
being conveyed to their respective It could be argued that Vision
sectors and organizations, and third, Guatemala is having some bearing
according to the office or position on university education as a result of
from which influence is exercised. the fact that a number of members
of the group at present are parti-

98 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
cipating in directing the second supporting all his accusations.
largest university of the country. Yesterday he came to pay me a
visit, and we sat down to ponder
....at present I have five on the things we do together to
members of Vision Guatemala fight against the current impu-
on the Board of Directors of the nity in the institutions, the
University. We are trying to violation of due process. And
make this University a space at this point one of us said: well,
where the spirit of Vision Gua- there are actually some points
temala is an innate spirit. I be- on which we actually converge.
lieve that this is something rich Constructor
and which can transmit this
spirit with great force as a Uni- An government official tells
versity institution, even though how, from his point of view, the
it does not necessarily have to lessons he got from Vision Gua-
refer directly to the name Vision temala could be having a bearing on
Guatemala. I believe that from the country.
the point of view of the students
and professors themselves, a I don’t know how much of
number of presentations have what has been happening later
been made and believe that (in the country) has to do with
there has been an impact on the Vision Guatemala. I will men-
ordinary life in different spaces tion one aspect in which I parti-
of the University. cipated. It is the project regar-
Promoter, Rector ding getting the process of the
of Rafael Landívar University Fiscal Agreement for Guate-
mala going. If you look at the
Similarly, a human rights acti- actors in the Preparatory Group
vist reveals how his experience has for the Fiscal Agreement, in the
started to have a bearing on his orga- Accompanying Commission of
nization: the Peace Accords and in the
Commissions, which have been
For instance, on one occa- established subsequently, there
sion, Mr. X, an entrepreneur, are people who have been there
sat at this table and we openly (in Vision Guatemala). So I
engaged in a heated discussion don’t know how much of what
because he is a neoliberal and I each one of us experienced in
had raised some points against the Vision Guatemala process
neoliberalism. Sometime after has contributed to the little or
this confrontation his brother lot we have advanced on this
was kidnapped and murdered, subject, which I believe is a
at which time I wrote an article lot... And one would have to

Learning Histories 99
observe in other spheres its pre- One journalist was of the opi-
sence, like salt in the world, is nion that the influence of Vision
not already impregnated in the Guatemala is indirect, but can be felt
way of being and behaving of intuitively:
some groups. But it is difficult
to assess. Because in Vision Visión Guatemala was a
Guatemala it is almost like the brainstorming job. If I were
Apostles to whom Christ said: asked today what changes took
take up your cross and follow place in my way of thinking, I
me. Yes, it is somewhat like that, would not be able to recall
the way I see it. There is not them. Actually, after I joined
way of doing it in writing, or the way of thinking of the Visión
by radio or television. It is a Guatemala group, I buried my
process of inner reflection. old mistaken ideas.
Government officer Journalist

(Visión Guatemala) infused In the spirit and with the parti-
and strengthened my way of cipation of a number of members of
being... I have new strengths. Vision Guatemala, a new entity in
In the institution where I work the struggle against poverty in the
(which is more or less a military country was created.
hierarchy), you do what the
President of the Bank says, of I recently began to lead the
course provided it is within the establishment of an Institute
framework of the law and that will fight poverty. I invited
standards.... some members I met at Vision
Now I listen first, and listen and they all accepted quickly.
well. As a result, when I make We are 22 or 25 founding
a decision, it is accepted without partners and I would say that
any major difficulty. But this 70% are members of Vision
new attitude not only works Guatemala.
here; it works in Cabinet mee- Businessman
tings, in meetings with different
sectors: we must learn to listen. A politician said:
This is one thing on which I
have probably improved a lot I feel very proud, satisfied
after the Vision Guatemala pro- and honored to be in the group.
cess, as sometimes one hears but The meeting impressed me so
does not listen, and probably one much that a new political party
learns more by listening. around me will be called “Visión
Government officer Guatemala Encounter 1998-

100 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
2000: building bridges of trust 2.4 The force of the process
“because, as far as I am con-
cerned, that is what Visión What was more valuable to you, the
Guatemala did. scenarios or the process of building
Former presidential candidate them? In response to that question,
all those interviewed agreed in
The generation of long term pointing out that the greatest rich-
strategic thinking and conversation ness of the exercise was the process
is another important contribution for experienced to get to build the
a society, which often focuses on the scenarios. For many participants, the
situation. From the beginning, the process was everything.
members of the group appreciated
the possibility of reflecting on the In terms of paradigms, we
alternatives of the country’s future. are so focused on results that
many times we miss the benefit
Visión Guatemala is thin- of process and, in this case,
king for the long term, drawing process was everything. It was
common lines of interest to the not the results. The stories that
majority. In order to be success- you end up telling is a neat way
ful, everyone must support a of packaging the process but it is
long-term project such as Vision the strategic vision that goes
Guatemala. Vision Guatemala incorporated in that story what
has brought me to think for the is really important, the sense of
long term, beyond that which I the power of collective dreaming
can see with my eyes. That with the capacity for you to
starts from the family: What do actually listen to what somebody
I want for my children? I cannot else is saying. I think that, once
think of working now to pay one we are able to clarify that, what
month’s school for my children. comes next follows by gravity.
I must work to pay for all their Former Technical
education, to help them be use- Secretary of Peace
ful citizens. Taking this to the na-
tional level, it is a commitment The scenarios stories acquire
for everyone, which begins with importance when sharing the ex-
the individual commitment, that perience, the learnings and reflec-
is, to participate. tions with those who did not parti-
Retired general cipate in the process. That is to say,

Learning Histories 101
the scenarios serve as means to bring 2.5 Limitations of Visión
the experience closer to the reality Guatemala
of each one but are not an end in
themselves. The main limitations stated by those
interviewed were the following:
What place to assign to the
construction of scenarios as ■ The lack of sufficient and timely
such? It is good to construct sce- financial resources for imple-
narios but that is not necessarily menting project activities.
the goal... No! That is not what ■ The participation of more women,
is most important! I don’t know more politicians, more young
if you are familiar with the people, more leaders of the social
anthropological tradition to movements and of the different
which Malinowky refers as a expressions of the left was missing,
system he discovered in some as well as that of leaders from
South Sea Islands, where he other regions of Guatemala.
was stationed during the entire ■ The intention and purposes were
World War I. There he obser- established by the promoters of
ved an extremely sophisticated the project and shared with the
mechanism of exchange –which group at the beginning of the
exists apparently for no pur- exercise. But participants´ expec-
pose– by which the people from tations with regard to these
some islands travel to others and changed as the scenario construc-
make exchanges of shells and tion process advanced. These new
things like that. To us, from the expectations were not addressed
point of view of economic logic, directly or made explicit within
it has no sense at all to risk one’s the group, giving rise to a certain
life in very long voyages to degree of frustration among some
exchange seashells. But, in the of the participants as to the scope
end, it turns out that Mali- of the project.
nowky discovers that the shells
are the great pretext to do ano-
ther whole bunch of things that 2.6 Recommendations from
are the ones that really matter. Participants
Then. I believe that the scena-
rios are the shells of Vision. Makeup of the promoting and cons-
They are the great pretext to do tructing groups
what we need to do.
Promoter, Rector of Rafael ■ Making up a national promoting
Landívar University group which reflects the plurality

102 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
and diversity of society, enjoys ronment that will foster the exchan-
credibility, assumes the co- ge of opinions and limit adopting
mmitment of leading the project, rigid positions.
has convening powers, comes
from different experiences and
fields of work, different ideolo- Facilitation
gical positions and above all a
feeling of commitment and love ■ Look for an excellent facilitator or
for their country. team of facilitators
■ The constructing group must also ■ Insofar as possible, the facilitation
reflect the diversity and plurality should be in the local language
of society. Each member must be
convened by the promoting
group; participate personally and Hiring a technical secretary or mana-
not as a representative of his/her gement team
sector, have a history of co-
mmitment to the country, a broad ■ This team should not necessarily
and open mentality, and time to be large, but should be dedicated
devote to the exercise. In total it full time, provide follow-up to the
should be a group of not more agreements and commitments,
than 45 persons. The partici- and keep up relations and co-
pation of women and young mmunications within the group.
leaders, who sooner or later will The team is responsible for syste-
hold positions of leadership at matizing each workshop, super-
national level is also important. vise transcriptions of recorded
■ In the measure in which the material, and hire an editor and
scenario exercises have the pur- writer of scenario stories.
pose of influencing decision ■ In addition to a logistical manage-
making in the country, they ment capability, the team must
should include politicians and have good technical capability,
other individuals (e.g. entre- mainly to prepare the synthesis of
preneurs, sectoral leaders) who the workshops, prepare interme-
are in capacity of bringing about diate documents and lead the
changes. final preparation of the scenarios.

The most timely moment Makeup of the board of directors

Space the scenario construction The board of directors among its
exercise, insofar as possible, away functions could have: the definition,
from any electoral event. The sce- prioritization, review and monitoring
nario exercises require an envi- of the strategy of the project and

Learning Histories 103
support the search for and obtaining peace process. In addition, the
of financial resources for the project. project was created up, promoted,
directed and built by Guatemalans.7
A second lesson is that there are
Definition of the next steps at least three critical and extremely
sensitive moments in the develop-
■ Before concluding the scenario ment of a scenario building exercise
building exercise it is necessary to to which extreme attention must be
define, with the consensus of the paid: overcoming the initial mistrust
building group, a second phase to which is awakened by an effort of this
disseminate the results. nature, to define and redefine throu-
■ After concluding the scenario ghout the process its intention or
building process, to establish an purpose and to reach a consensus on
infrastructure for the review, the dissemination of the results.
assessment and continuous lear-
ning which promotes periodic
meetings. 3.2 Overcoming the Initial Mistrust

At the beginning, the most common
3 Learnings and Questions questions were: Where does this
for the Future initiative come from? What are its
real intentions? What and whose
3.1 A Need Felt by Society agenda is being promoted? Will I be
manipulated if I participate? Will I
Although inspired by the expe- compromise my sector? Is it a busi-
riences of other countries, such as nessmen’s project? A CIA project? A
that of Mont Fleur in South Africa leftist project?
and Destino Colombia, financed by It must be personal, transparent,
international cooperation and ad- informative on the intentions, scope
vised by a private company, which is and those promoting the exercise.
also international, the Visión Gua- This initial approach could be
temala project resulted from a de- strengthened with the testimony of
mand felt in the country, as was at participants from other countries
that time the need to generate spaces who have experienced a similar
for dialogue and trust to shore up the exercise.

7
The international donors supporting the Vision Guatemala project are: The Soros Foundation of
Guatemala, Cooperation of the Netherlands, UNDP, USAID. Local donors have been Fundación
2020 and the Managers’ Association of Guatemala. Also, cooperation by World Bank and the
Sugar Association of Guatemala (FUNDAZUCAR) is being initiated to carry out multisectoral dialogue
workshops at regional level.

104 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
3.3 Clarifying the Intention of contemplate, with the same rigor,
the Scenario Building Exercise how to disseminate the results.

The promoters of Vision Guatemala
from the beginning defined the 4 Interpretative Conclusions
intention or purpose of the scenario
exercise and shared it with all the 4.1 Influence on Participants
members of the building group.
However, while some members of the Visión Guatemala was a deeply hu-
group are of the opinion that Vision man experience which each of the
Guatemala fulfilled its purpose, there members of the group remembers
are others who stated the contrary: vividly. In essence, it implied a
change in their mental maps, which
When they talked to us it allowed them to do away with pre-
was to construct the vision, so judices, open up to other ways of
I was looking forward to cons- looking at things, and thinking and
tructing a vision not scenarios. learning to listen to and tolerate each
That is why I feel sad because I other. Many feel that the experience
was looking for a more ambi- marked them irreversibly. Visión
tious project. Guatemala also fostered that many
Academician (female) discovered and appreciated the
truths of others starting with what
history includes, the collective
So that it was necessary for the memory and the experiences of the
group to approach its expectations group. The days of learning and
and the real possibilities of a project discussions about the history of the
of this nature realistically. Are we country and multiculturalism and
trying to generate a vision of the the Maya Cosmovision stripped
country? Are we trying to generate realities from a country which many
strategic thinking in society? Are we did not know. Personal histories
expecting to create spaces of trust which some deposited with the group
and relationships? Do we want to in an honest and calm manner
influence the elite or all of the po- brought about moments of true
pulations? communion.
The workshops held created a
meeting space for the leaders of very
3.4 Dissemination of Results varied sectors to sit down to talk, to
tighten the ties and to build trust.
The methodology used was powerful One year and a half after the scenario
and clearly structured as regards exercise ended, the group continues
scenario building. But it did not to meet and looking for ways to keep
in contact.

Learning Histories 105
4.2. Influence in the Country could have a bearing on higher edu-
cation. The relationships and trust
The influence of Visión Guatemala established on the basis of the sce-
on the country is not always explicit nario workshops were a fundamental
and direct. It is related to at least two ingredient for one of the members to
conditions: First, to the changes in start up a new institute to fight
the mental maps experienced by this poverty, where 70% of the founders
group of prominent national leaders, belong to Visión Guatemala.
many of whom hold key positions in The interviews also reveal some
national events. Second, the degree direct impacts of Visión Guatemala
to which each one of these is trans- on the country. One of these is that
ferring his reflections and lessons to Visión Guatemala is a tangible and
the sectors, organizations and work visible example of the fact that
places, from where they can bring various sectors can sit down and talk
about a degree of bearing on the to each other with tolerance and res-
country. pect, which confirms that it is
The interviews revealed that worthwhile to invest efforts in the
Vision Guatemala is permeating exercises of multisectoral dialogue.
Guatemalan society in very varied Another impact is that Visión Gua-
ways, through the individual temala is generating reflection,
contributions of the members of the strategic thought and public debate
group. A journalist says that he re- in regard to the possible, feasible or
flects the lessons in the media where desirable alternatives in the future of
he writes, a public official carries the country, particularly through the
them to the meetings of the Govern- dissemination activities which are
ment Cabinet; a politician has a under way.8
bearing on a government program of These findings suggest that the
his party in the 1999 elections; ano- impact of Visión Guatemala is simi-
ther one finds inspiration to name lar to what happens when you throw
his new party; an academician and a stone into a lake. It falls and gene-
an entrepreneur incorporate them in rates a series of ever broader circles
to the Preparatory Commission for until they expand to an area much
the Fiscal Agreement. Moreover, the greater than that of the small stone
participation of various members of thrown. One is left with the sensa-
the group in directing the second tion that the influence of the Visión
largest university of the country, Guatemala project has barely started

8
There are three dissemination activities under way: presentations to different groups of society,
strategic reflection and thinking workshops, and multisectoral dialogue workshops. The core
objective of these workshops is to generate dialogue and strategic thinking in society.

106 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
and that we still have to get to know the following sectors: academic/
the potential impacts it contains. intellectual, entrepreneurial and the
Therefore, there is the hope that in media. During the last few years has
coming years, many of the events of focused her experience on the fields
this nation will be enlightened by the of development, economic growth
powerful light of the fireflies. and reduction of poverty.

Richard Aitkenhead Castillo
Economist. Currently Executive
5 Appendix
President of IDC
5.1 Methodology and Research
Miguel Ángel Albizúres Pedroza
Journalist. Currently Coordinator of
This paper was based on the findings
the Information Commission, FAM-
of 15 tape-recorded interviews
DEGUA , also Coordinator of the
conducted in Guatemala 21-25 of
Alliance Against Impunity. He is
August 2000, as well as a group dia-
most active in the following sectors:
logue conducted immediately after
human rights and trade unions. Du-
the interviews to validate and mo-
ring the last few years has worked
dify, if necessary, the preliminary
mostly for trade unions, human rights
findings.
and journalism.

Virgilio Alvarado Ajanel
5.2 Participants of the Visión
Degree in Social Work and studying
Guatemala Project
for Masters in Anthropology and
Ethnology. Currently Vice-Minister
Constructing Group
of Culture and Sports. Was Coor-
dinator of the multiculturalism area
The following is a list of the members
of the UNDP Q’anil Project. He is most
of the scenario constructing group
related to the following sectors:
and multipliers for Visión Guate-
intellectual, indigenous NGOs of 2nd
mala. The list presented is in alpha-
and 3rd grade on a regional and na-
betical order as per the first surname
tional level. Has focused during the
of each participant and includes a
last few years on endogenous deve-
summary of their main biographic
lopment (CDRO), Mayan education
data on the basis of information
(UNESCO) and has been member of
given by them.
the Parity Commission for Educa-
tional Reform (on behalf of the
María del Carmen Aceña de Fuentes
Government).
Systems Engineer. Currently Presi-
dent of CIEN. She is most active in

Learning Histories 107
Clara Arenas Bianchi NGOs. During the last few years has
Economist and Anthropologist. Cu- focused on community development,
rrently Executive Director of AVANCSO. uprooted populations and the peace
She is most active in the following process.
sectors: popular, NGOs, religious and
academic. During the last few years Eulalia Camposeco Cruz
has focused on the areas of peasants, Degree in Psychology. Former Direc-
identity, State/society, research and tor of newspaper El Regional in
coordination. Quetzaltenango. Most active in the
following sectors: the media, indi-
Julio Balconi Turcios genous and academic/intellectual.
Retired general. Was Technical Ad- Lately has focused on education,
visor in the Faculty of Systems Engi- work with women, and journalism.
neering of the Francisco Marroquín
University. Is most active in the Héctor Centeno Bolaños
academic/intellectual sector. During Civil Engineer. Currently Rector of
the last few years has focused on the the Universidad del Valle de Guate-
educational area of armed institu- mala. Most related to the following
tions, collaborated in the attainment sectors: academic/intellectual, entre-
of peace as member of the Peace preneurial and NGOs. Lately has fo-
Commission of the Government of cused on areas of teaching, entre-
the Republic and in the moder- preneurial development , environ-
nization process of the Guatemalan mental sciences and natural resources.
Army.
Alvaro Colom Caballeros
Hugo Beteta Méndez-Ruiz Industrial Engineer. Currently Pre-
Administrative Vice-Rector of the sident of MEGA Group, a consulting
Rafael Landivar University. Was company. Was candidate to 1999
President of Solar Foundation. Most elections for Partido Alianza Nueva
associated with sectors of: NGOs and Nación. Most active in the following
governmental. Lately has focused on sectors: productive, indigenous and
areas of environment, energy and political. During the last few years
development. has focused on areas of productive
development, construction of peace
Edgar Cabnal Santa Cruz and entrepreneurial development.
Social Worker. Currently Consultant
for “ Children bereft of Family rela- Luis Chocano Caballero
tions due to armed conflict”. Was Insurance Broker. Life Executive
Executive Secretary of Special Commi- Director of Tecniseguros. Was Pre-
ssion for Incorporation. Most active sident of the Association of Mana-
in the following sectors: indigenous, gers of Guatemala. Lately has focused
political, popular, trade unions and on private social security programs.

108 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
Elena Díez Pinto Eduardo González Castillo
Director of Visión Guatemala. In- Entrepreneur. Currently Executive
dustrial engineer with graduate President of Bancafé and was Mi-
studies in regional and economic nister of Economy. Most active in the
development planning. During the entrepreneurial sector. During the
last few years has focused on design last few years has focused on the areas
and evaluation of social policies and of finance, export of nontraditional
programs, relations government-civil products and the peace process.
society, and poverty alleviation and
peace projects. Alfonso González Lacs
Economist. Currently Executive
Jorge Escoto Marroquín Vice-President of Grupo Pro. Was
Economist. Former Undersecretary President of Association of Managers
of the Secretariat of Planning and of Guatemala. Most related to sectors
Programming of the Presidency of: finance, stock market, managerial
(SEGEPLAN). Most active in the fo- support and economic analysis.
llowing sectors: academic/inte- During the last few years has focused
llectual, governmental, indigenous, on areas of finance, economy and
political and NGOs. During the last management.
few years has focused on social,
economic and political areas.. Roberto Gutiérrez Martínez
Chemical Engineer. Degree in Bu-
Luis Figueroa Jurado siness Administration and Anthro-
Journalist. Currently Vice-President pologist. General Manager of “Gutíe-
of newspaper Siglo Veintiuno. Most rrez y Cia.,S.A.”. Most active in the
related to sectors of: the Press, eco- following sectors: academic/intellec-
nomic and academic. Lately has fo- tual, entrepreneurial and indigenous.
cused on journalism and economy. Lately had focused on areas of
socioeconomic development, decen-
Víctor Gálvez Borrel tralization and local power, com-
Doctor in Sociology. Currently Di- bating of poverty.
rector of FLACSO . Was Academic
Coordinator of FLACSO. Most active Juan León Alvarado
in the following sectors: academic/ Urban Primary Education Teacher.
intellectual, governmental, indige- Former presidential candidate in the
nous, NGO s, popular and trade 1999 elections. Former Legal Repre-
unions. During the last few years has sentative of Mayan Defense Counsel.
focused on teaching, research and Most active in the following sectors:
counseling of international orga- Mayan, women, trade unions, CACIF
nisms. (CC ), State organisms, academic,

Learning Histories 109
NGOs and religious. During the last During the last few years has focused
few years has focused on areas of on areas of negotiation of Human
human rights, politics, indigenous Rights themes in the U.N., lobbying
rights and international law. and negotiation in the peace process,
design of policies and institutional
Raquel León Lux strategies in the Army.
Social Worker. Currently working for
Social Investment Fund in El José Angel López Camposeco
Quiché. Most active in the following Degree in Political Sciences. Curren-
sectors: local development commi- tly President of Banco de Desarollo
ttees, rural area communities and Rural. Was Vice-Minister of Lives-
mayor’s offices. During the last few tock, Hydrobiological Resources and
years has focused on rural commu- Food. Most active in following sec-
nities and community development tors: governmental, cooperative,
committees. coffee production, peasants, social,
agricultural business, NGOs, indige-
Federico Licht Leibson nous and academic in area of his
Entrepreneur and Telecommuni- specialty.
cations Engineer. Currently Director
of Grupo AEROLUX. Was Director of Eugenia Mijangos Martínez
Lawyer and Notary Public. Currently
Grupo telglob. Has been most active
Coordinator of Area of the Rights of
in the following sectors: religious,
Women of Centre for Human Rights
entrepreneurial and the media. Du-
Legal Action. Has been most active
ring the last few years has focused on
in the following sectors: human
advising on sales of video equipment,
rights, academic, indigenous, reli-
audio equipment, air-conditioning
gious, NGOs and the media. Lately has
and telephony.
focused on areas of social develop-
ment, gender/legal and human
Mauricio López Bonilla rights.
Retired colonel. Political scientist,
consultant/advisor, currently execu- Ronalth Ochaeta Argueta
tive vice-president of Interimage Lawyer and Notary Public. Former
Latinoamericana, S.A.. Works as Executive Director of the Human
consultant-advisor in corporative Rights Office of the Archbishopric
image and campaign design, is po- (ODHA). Currently the Guatemalan
litical analyst and opinion columnist. Ambassador to the OEA. Most active
Currently columnist of newpaper in the following sectors: religious,
Prensa Libre and was columnist of NGOs, academic/intellectual. During
the magazine Crónica. Most active the last few years has focused on areas
in the following sectors: private, of defense and promotion of human
human rights, political parties, aca- rights, rescue of historical memory,
demic, armed forces and the media. reconstruction of social fabric.

110 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
Fabián Pira Arrivillaga Mayan literary production and
Certified Public Accountant, Audi- assistance in national coordination
tor and Banker. Currently working instances.
in Banco Centroamericano de Inte-
gración Económica (BCIE). Was Pre- Max Quirin Schoder
sident of Crédito Hipotecario Nacio- Entrepreneur. Currently General
nal and General Manager of the Manager of Ecoagro. Most active in
Banco de Guatemala. Most active in entrepreneurial sector. During the
the following sectors: banking, last few years has focused on areas of
computer science and economic. Du- agricultural exports, Presidency of
ring the last few years has focused on Anacafé and the Monetary Board.
banking, strategic planning consul-
tant, financial consulting and com- Luis Alberto Reyes Mayén
puter science consulting. Business Administrator. Currently
working in entrepreneurial, agricul-
Rigoberto Quemé Chay tural and commercial activities and
Degree in Business Management, is Executive Director of the consul-
Master in Social Anthropology from ting office GETSA, S.A.. Most active
the University of Paris and studying in the following sectors: entrepre-
for Masters in Public Administration neurial, expressions of civilian so-
USAC-INAP. Currently Municipal Ma- ciety in general, (NGOs, trade unions,
yor of Quetzaltenango. Most active cooperative organizations, etc.).
in the following sectors: academic/in- Lately has focused on the labor rela-
tellectual, governmental, entre- tions area (especially in work trai-
preneurial, indigenous, the media, ning), small and medium businesses,
political, popular, trade unions, NGOs dialogue and agreements.
and religious. During the last few
years has focused on areas of deve- Oscar Rivas Villanueva
lopment, anthropology and public Lawyer and Notary Public. Currently
administration. working in a professional office. Most
active in academic and intellectual
Armando Quiacaín Cruz sector. Lately has been acquiring
Primary Education Teacher. Cu- experience in professional legal
rrently writer in the Bilingual Gene- offices, radio programs for citizens’
ral Management of the Ministry of guidance and student politics.
Education. Was educational research
assistant. Most active in following Mario Antonio Sandoval
sectors: academic/intellectual and Journalist. Currently Editorial Writer
Mayan. During the last few years has and Columnist in Prensa Libre. Most
focused on educational research, active in the following sectors: aca-
translation into Mayan languages, demic/intellectual, political, the me-

Learning Histories 111
dia, popular, trade unions, NGOs and in governmental and NGO sectors.
religious. Lately has been focusing on During the last few years has focused
academic areas and journalism. on areas of Peace Accords, develop-
ment projects, government-civil
Pablo R. Schneider society relations and decentra-
Economist. Currently President of lization.
BCIE in Honduras. Works as a consul-
tant. Most active in academic and Lester Toledo Mena
intellectual areas. During the last few Participated as a student of the Poli-
years has focused on areas of develop- technical School (military school).
ment and economic consulting. Most related to military sector.

Danilo Siekavizza Passarelli Nery Villatorio Robledo
Entrepreneur. Currently President of Historian and Journalist. Currently
Hino de Guatemala. Most active in in charge of Department of Public
following sectors: entrepreneurial, Relations and Policies of the Ri-
government and academic (INCAE). goberta Menchú Tum Foundation
Was President of the Association of and is columnist of Siglo Veintinuo.
Managers of Guatemala. During the Most active in the following sectors:
last few years has focused on business academic, media and NGOs. Lately
management, competitiveness pro- has been focusing on areas of social
grams and medium and long-term investigation, journalism and human
vision (IBD seminars). rights.

Lizardo López Adrián Zapata
Economist. Currently President of Lawyer and Notary Public. Currently
Banco de Guatemala. Was Executive regular member of the National
secretary of ASIES and President of Executive Committee and in charge
Banco Corporativo, S.A. Most active of political training of the URNG Par-
in the following sectors: politics, ty. Was a member of the Secretariat
press, applied research and financial. of International Relations of the
During the last few years has focused URNG. Most active in the popular
on economic consulting, social sector. During the last few years has
communication (written press) and worked in training within the URNG
political leadership - public sector. and areas related to social move-
ments.
Ricardo Stein Heinemann
Mathematician and consultant. Cu- Raquel Zelaya
rrently Executive Director of Fun- Economist. Former Secretary of Pea-
dación Soros de Guatemala. Was ce. Currently works at ASIES. Most
Technical Secretary of the Secre- active in the research and political
tariat of Peace (SEPAZ). Most active sectors.

112 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
Multipliers Social Security. Most active in
student groups of the Rafael Landívar
Violeta Alfaro de Carpio University. During the last few years
Political scientist. Currently inde- has focused on student support
pendent Consultant. Most active in groups as social communicator, co-
the following sectors: organizations producer of the Radio Program “De-
of civil society promoting legal recho y Destino” (Right and Des-
reforms in Urban and Rural Deve- tiny), in Radio Asunción de María.
lopment Councils, specifically wo-
men. During the last few years has Alfredo de León Solano
focused and gender and deve- Anthropologist. Currently working
lopment, development councils and as social researcher in the rural area
women’s organizations. of AVANCSO. Most active in the fo-
llowing sectors: NGO s, peasants,
Nelson Amaro Víctoria political parties, Catholic Church.
Sociologist. Currently Dean of Fa- During the last few years has focused
culty of Social Sciences of Univer- on studies on peasant groups, natio-
sidad del Valle, also Director of nal identity and popular education.
Masters Course in Development.
Most active in the university sector. Ruth del Valle Cóbar
During the last few years has focused Political scientist. Currently working
on intellectual teaching (decentra- in Human Rights Office of the
lization, local government, citizens Archbishopric. Most active in the
participation, evaluation of social human rights sector. During the last
programs, social development). few years has focused on social
research, popular education, promo-
Oscar Azmitia Barranco tion and defense of human rights.
Educator/religious. Currently Gene-
ral Director of Santiago Deve- Adán Echevarría Guevara
lopment Project. Most active in Business Administrator. Currently
sectors of Agencies of Cooperation, Teaching Advisor of the Department
Popular Movements, Civil Society of Planning and Educational Deve-
Organizations and Mayan Move- lopment of the faculty of Economic
ments. Lately has been focusing on Sciences of USAC. Director of public
the academic/religious, indigenous/ sector training program. Is also Di-
popular areas. rector of Human Resources of the
Ministry of Agriculture. Most active
José Leonel Cordón Anleu in the following sectors: academic/in-
Student and civil servant. Currently tellectual, entrepreneurial, govern-
working in General Directorate of mental, political and religious. Re-
Labor in the Ministry of Labor and cently has been focusing on orga-

Learning Histories 113
nizational development, university program for citizens guidance,
teaching and organization and me- currently writing articles in Diario
thods. “La Hora”.

Julia González de Villatoro Magdalena Quiacaín Cruz
Anthropologist. Currently working Primary Education Teacher. Most
as social researcher in socio-urban active in Mayan sectors. During the
problems. Most active in the fo- last few years has been studying.
llowing sectors: urban popular sec-
tors, persons displaced due to city Pablo Eduardo Sáenz Ortiz
violence. During the last few years Degree in Business Administration.
has focused on socio-urban problems Currently working in the Guate-
of city growth, persons displaced by malan Chamber of Construction.
violence, migration, urban sectors Most active in construction, small
and popular religiousness, permanent and medium businesses, commerce.
discussion spaces with academics on Recently has focused on training,
urban problems. entrepreneurial administration and
human development.
Maritza Ochoa Rosas
Consultant in Human Resources. José Eduardo Secaira Fajardo
Currently working in MO Consul- Agonomist, conservationist. Curren-
tants on Human Resources. Most tly working in “Conservation of Na-
active in following sectors : financial, ture, the Mayan movement, and
universities, companies in general. Spirituality: implications for Conser-
During the last few years has focused vationists”. Most active in the follo-
on areas of administration (Banco de wing sectors: environmental, conser-
Guatemala), university teaching vationist, indigenous and religious.
(UFM) and organizational consulting Very interested in their interrelation.
(international institutions). During the last few years has focused
on conservation of biodiversity, NGOs
José Domingo Paredes Morales for the environment, sustainable
Law student. Currently working in development, indigenous and reli-
Turcios, García y Asociados. For- gious areas.
merly worked in Química Farma-
ceútica QUIFA. Most actively related Erwin Solórzano Urrutia
to students and organizations of Architect. Currently is Coordinator
Antigua Guatemala. During the last of Planning Unit of the Faculty of
few years had focused on student Architecture. Most active in aca-
organizations, participation in diffe- demic/intellectual sectors. Lately has
rent fora and co-producer of a radio been focusing on teaching.

114 Democratic Dialogue Regional Project
Saqiiq’ Felipe Tuy Navichoc systems systematization. During the
Researcher. Teacher. Currently wor- last few years has focused on training
king as researcher of oral literature. leaders in subjects of health, mo-
Most active in Mayan and non Ma- nitoring and evaluation of deve-
yan sectors. During the last few years lopment projects focused on gender,
has focused on social investigation, research and systematization of
oral literature, training for groups of information proper to indigenous
Mayan people, contents and edu- people.
cational reform.
Sheila Wilkins de Melendreras
Leticia Josefa Velásquez Interpreter, Translator, Teacher.
Physician and Surgeon. Currently Most active in following sectors:
giving technical support to Mayan human rights groups, popular groups,
Defense Counsel for Organizational international donors, government,
Development. Most active in the and army. During the last few years
following sectors: development, has focused on interpretation, transla-
health, women, ethnic, research and tion and teaching.

Learning Histories 115
The edition of Learning Histories
was printed by Magna Terra editores in october 2004.

Related Interests