The Earth Scorched

Operación Sofia (July 16, 1982–August 19, 1982)

Operación Sofia was a counterinsurgency operation launched in the Ixil territory in the context of the campaign plan Victoria 82 implemented by the government of General Efraín Ríos Montt. It took place between July 16 and August 19, 1982 in the northern region of Nebaj and involved various military units.

In 2009 the National Security Archive Project (NSA) disclosed the documentation of Operación Sofia7 and made it publically available on the internet. The dossier contains a vast array of information, including intelligence assessments, maps of patrol trajectories, reports of operations, and messages exchanged between ground troops and military headquarters. 

Through a detailed analysis of the geographic positions reported in these documents, this sequence of maps traces military maneuvers on the terrain, identifying the location of some of the violent actions that are described in the operational reports (red spots). Every “log” located on the ground is linked to its source document.

Plotted on the map, Operación Sofia helps us understand the spatial logics of the scorched earth offensives. The messages and reports describe the burning of crops, killing of animals, destruction of houses, and forcible resettlement of civilians.


    Operación Sofia (July 16, 1982–August 19, 1982)