National Reparations Program
In 1996, UN brokered Peace Accords finally saw the end of the brutal 36-year civil war in Guatemala that claimed the lives of over 200,000 people─83% of Mayan descent and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
In accordance with the peace accords, the National Reparations Program (PNR) was created to aid in the reconciliation of Guatemalan society with the goal of comprehensive restitution for human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by the Guatemalan armed forces and insurgent groups. This included new houses to families who had lost their homes and livelihoods at the hands of the government.
But almost two decades later, due to corruption and bureaucratic incompetence within the Guatemalan government, very little reparations had been given to families severely affected during the civil war and they never received the much-needed assistance.
After several years of discussions, the PNR accepted a proposal from Habitat Guatemala that house financing be given directly to the families from the PNR, and then the families sign contracts with Habitat Guatemala for the construction of their home. The houses are paid by the families upfront and in full using the reparations money provided by the government. Unlike other Habitat homeowners, these families are not required to provide any sweat equity.
This project is the first time that Habitat Guatemala worked directly with the Guatemalan government. In August 2013, we began the 24-home pilot project in the small village Pujujil II in the department of Sololá, and in October 2013, the families received the keys to their new homes.
Through the success of this special project, we learned that it is possible for us to work side by side with the Guatemalan government because complete transparency while working through the families negates any chance of officials corrupting the process. Building on this success, in 2014, we will be building many more homes for the PNR in the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiché with plans to continue further into Chimaltenango and Petén.
And while we know that this house will never replace the pain and losses that the families suffered during the civil war, it is our desire to be able to provide for them a safe and decent home and leave them with the feeling that in Guatemala there is now a better present and the possibility a brighter future.