If you go

What: "Bad Apples or Bad Leaders: Explaining State Repression and Sexual Violence in El Salvador," a presentation by Michele Leiby, an assistant professor of political science from Ohio.

When: Today at 12:30 p.m.

Where: CU's Institute of Behavioral Sciences, room 155

Contact: ucblibraries.colorado.edu/news/ElSalvador.pdf

The University of Colorado will host events this week highlighting the world's largest El Salvador human rights archive, which was obtained by CU's Norlin Library in the mid-1990s.

On Thursday, Michele Leiby, assistant professor of political science at the College of Wooster in Ohio, will discuss repression and sexual violence in El Salvador, based on her research conducted in the archive.

Leiby will also join CU's Asuncion Horno-Delgado, of the Spanish and Portuguese department, on Friday for the panel discussion "Unearthing the El Salvador Human Rights Archive."

The sensitive nature and time-consuming organization of the documents downplayed the significance of the archive in preserving the history of El Salvador and United States foreign policy, said Bruce Montgomery, head of archives and special collections.

"If we don't compile history, then it's gone, not discovered, not part of world history," Montgomery said. "The more such documentation we can save, the more informed we are about the past and how it can inform us in the present."

The archive, which contains documents, films and photos of civil war atrocities --including sexual violence and executions in El Salvador -- is not accessible by the public, due to the sensitive materials and confidentiality concerns, he said.

Montgomery and Yolanda Maloney, also of CU's archives and special collections, traveled to war-torn Central America in the '90s to look through documents and negotiate agreements with local organizations to create the archive.

With no telecommunication systems, the project proved to be a challenge, Montgomery said, but now CU's human rights archive had yet another monumental collection.

Library staff is currently working on a vetting procedure to allow some scholars access to the archive, said library spokeswoman Deborah Fink.

"It's not pleasant to talk about, but it's really important because the primary sources are not available anywhere else," Fink said. "In terms of Latin American studies in general, Latin American civil wars and El Salvador in particular -- even human rights -- this is unique, original content."

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