Guatemala: The Secret Files



Jim Fruchterman

Jim Fruchterman is the president of Benetech, a Silicon Valley nonprofit that specializes in high-tech solutions to humanitarian problems.

In this interview with FRONTLINE/World correspondent Clark Boyd, Fruchterman talks about bringing the values of social entrepreneurship to his work, where his company can choose to develop products based on what is “important and right, as opposed to what makes money.”

He also explains how his company became involved with human rights investigations. “Every time human rights information gets lost,” he says, “that’s someone’s story of suffering that now will make no impact on the world. And we thought that was an injustice we had to fight.”


Dr. Patrick Ball

Dr. Patrick Ball is Benetech’s chief scientist and director of their human rights program. His software and statistical models have been used in large-scale human rights projects in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, South Africa, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and elsewhere to show patterns of genocide.

He tells FRONTLINE/World correspondent Clark Boyd how technology can help human rights workers preserve and analyze records like those found in Guatemala. "The point of all human rights work," says Ball, "is to understand the past, so we can build a future that doesn’t repeat it."

Álvaro Colom

Álvaro Colom became Guatemala's president after run-off elections in November 2007. The center-left politician and former businessman has promised to crack down on the country’s violent crime and find reconciliation after years of conflict. Despite the signing of a peace accord that ended the country’s 30-year civil war in 1996, Colom tells correspondent Clark Boyd, "We have to construct justice if we want peace."

Colom lost members of his own family in political assassinations during the war and believes it will take time to gather evidence from the National Police Archive to deliver justice. But he says his government has the will to find the truth. "Our government has nothing to hide," Colom says. "It's time to know the truth. It’s time for Guatemala to sleep peacefully without dwelling on the past and living with these realities."