Sara Holmgren

Life retaken
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Nationality: Swedish
Biography: After graduating in Political Sciences in Umeå, Sweden, self-employed documentary photographer Sara Holmgren left Sweden to work as an international observer with The Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR) in collaboration with... MORE
Public Story
Life retaken
Copyright Sara Holmgren 2023
Date of Work Oct 2016 - Mar 2018
Updated Jan 2019
Location Guatemala city
Topics CAI, Documentary, FAFG, genocide, Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, Guatemala, Photography

"In my pre-university education, they did not show me the true history of my country. I confronted it when, at the age of 15, I went to the central park and found a demonstration of people with photographs of their disappeared. It was that day that I began to investigate and scrutinize the story that they do not tell and that I do not understand. " 

                                                        Candy Véliz, the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG)

Nearly four decades of internal armed conflict (1960-1996) left Guatemala with 200,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced people. They also left 45,000 disappeared. The vast majority of them haven’t been found and relatives, mostly ethnic Mayan, continue the desperate search for their loved ones. The elder the relatives get, the greater the fear that they will die with no further news.

The Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) has been working since the 90’s to find and identify the disappeared. They have been able to deliver several identified skeletons to the relatives so that they could give them a dignified burial according to the local customs. 

The moment of the reunion with the remains of the disappeared person, who has often been missing for over thirty years, is very intense. For the first time the relatives can mourn the death of their loved one and possibly receive information about the circumstances related to the death, and close a circle of uncertainty.

Due to the lack of contribution from the Guatemalan state, FAFG has to rely on the support of international organizations to carry out the investigations. Guatemala currently experiences several legal processes of greater importance for crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the CAI. Forensic reports elaborated by FAFG serve as evidence in the trials.

In the Guatemalan capital there are denialist movements insisting there was no genocide and they claim the exhumed remains are the result of the earthquake that shook the country in 1976, in spite of the bones being found in the mass graves tied hand and foot and with blindfolds.

Candy has not personally received any threat but does not stop fearing them as the clarification of the cases of genocide is shaking the structures of the deeply embedded political power. The legal processes deal with fugitives from justice, ex-military politicians who enjoy immunity, significant delays due to delaying maneuvers and other measures planted to protect the rule of impunity.

LinkedIn Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon

Also by Sara Holmgren —


The Xamán massacre

Sara Holmgren / alta verapaz guatemala

Las abuelas de Sepur Zarco

Sara Holmgren / Sepur Zarco,Guatemala

Mi nombre No es XX

Sara Holmgren / Acul, Nebaj, Guatemala


Sara Holmgren / Cobán, Guatemala

Voces de Creompaz

Sara Holmgren / Cobán, Guatemala

Exhibitions & Publications

Sara Holmgren
Life retaken by Sara Holmgren
Join us
For more access