Jennifer K. Harbury is an activist, author, and attorney who has spent much of the past twenty years working to monitor and promote human rights in Guatemala. Her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, was a Mayan resistance leader who was “disappeared” by the Guatemalan military in 1992; subjected to long-term, severe torture; then extrajudicially executed. Harbury’s efforts to save his life, which included three dangerous hunger strikes, resulted in startling disclosures about the close working relationship between the CIA and the Central American death squads. Since learning of her husband’s death, she has devoted much of her time to pressing for human rights reforms for both the United States and Guatemalan governments.
During her fellowship year at the Radcliffe Institute, Harbury will work on a book that will evaluate our post-September 11 policies in light of the lessons we learned from Latin American human-rights history. The book will include a review of certain historical cases, an in-depth legal analysis, and policy discussions and recommendations. Her goal is to identify an appropriate balance between fundamental human rights and legitimate national-security needs.
Harbury graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978 and has published two books about her experiences in Guatemala—Guatemala: Bridge of Courage (Common Courage Press, 1994) and Searching for Everardo (Warner Books, 1997).