San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan advocate for the 'disappeared' is one of Time's 100 most influential people

Guatemala is a country that beats down — or outright eliminates — many of its most nobel citizens. The fight against impunity and corruption is constant.

Aura Elena Farfán has been in that fight for more than three decades. And this year, she was recognized by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

“Since the Guatemalan military abducted her brother in 1984, Aura Elena has been fighting for justice for the relatives of the tens of thousands who were disappeared or killed during the civil war,” human rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu, who is also an impressive figure, wrote for Time.

In 1992 Farfán founded Famdegua, a Guatemalan organization that supports families in their search for missing members, and she’s still active.

Exhumations of mass graves dating from Guatemala’s 36-year civil war have helped families locate their loved ones in recent years — and bring the perpetrators to justice.

In one of the most notorious wartime massacres, the Guatemalan army killed more than 200 peasants in 1980 in the village of Dos Erres, in the northern province of Petén. In 2011 Famdegua helped put four of the soldiers who carried out the massacre behind bars for life. A fifth was sentenced in 2012.

There’s much more to be done.

“Aura Elena has shown remarkable courage — and she gets results,” Bernabeu wrote.

Besides Farfán, four other Latin Americans made Time’s influential people list this year: Cuban President Raúl Castro, Pope Francis, Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos and Brazilian billionaire Paulo Lemann.

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When she started in 1992, it a huge amount of courage. Possibly the kind that can only come from the loss of a loved one. Insisting on the removal of impunity for the police and military is still a tough row to hoe in Guatemala. Aura Elena Farfán and Famdegua are the inspirations for Dolores and her organization, Justicia! in my novel “Twelve Days.

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