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Inventory of the Elisabeth Burgos-Debray papers
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Elisabeth Burgos-Debray papers
    Date (inclusive): 1920-2007
    Collection Number: 2001C89
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: Spanish and French
    Physical Description: 20 manuscript boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 2 card file boxes (12.5 linear feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, writings, sound recordings and transcripts of interviews, and printed matter relating to the trial of the French revolutionary journalist Régis Debray in Bolivia; revolutionary movements and political conditions in Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America; women in Cuba; and the Guatemalan Indian leader Rigoberta Menchú.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Burgos-Debray, Elisabeth


    Box 27 closed during the lifetime of E. Burgos-Debray. The remainder of the collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Elisabeth Burgos-Debray papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2001, with an increment received in 2007.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1941 Born, Valencia, Venezuela
    1967-1970 Active in campaign for the release of Régis Debray from prison in Bolivia
    1980s Works for the French government as head of the Instituto Cultural Francés in Seville and as a cultural attaché in Madrid
    1982-1983 Interviews Rigoberta Menchú and collaborates on the book Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y asì me nació la conciencia
    1983 Awarded Premio Casa de las Americas

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Elisabeth Burgos-Debray papers contain materials largely pertaining to Latin America in the past forty-five years, with a particular emphasis on the history of guerrilla movements in the 1960s and 1970s; the experience of civil war in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s; and aspects of political and social life in Cuba during the Castro era. Consisting of correspondence, writings, and numerous recorded interviews, the papers reflect the personal biography and career of Burgos-Debray, who in her youth was active in the radical politics of Latin America in the 1960s. She later became an anthropologist and journalist, while also collaborating on a number of books relating to Guatemala and Cuba.
    In 1967, Burgos-Debray married Régis Debray, a French intellectual then imprisoned in Bolivia on charges of having aided Che Guevara's ill fated guerrilla campaign in that country. Debray's case became a cause célèbre in France and elsewhere, and an international effort was undertaken to secure his release. The substantial Régis Debray File in the papers includes letters written from prison by Debray to Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, as well as the extensive correspondence conducted by Debray's parents on their son's behalf. There is also a large quantity of clippings in this file relating to Debray's trial and imprisonment, many of which also contain details on the capture and execution of Guevara by the Bolivian military.
    Régis Debray and Elisabeth Burgos-Debray were later divorced, and Burgos-Debray pursued her academic studies in France. In 1982, her interviews with a Guatemalan woman, Rigoberta Menchú, formed the basis of a book, Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia. In the work, which was translated into a number of languages, Menchú recounts her life story while describing the ravages of Guatemala's civil war in the 1970s and early 1980s as experienced by its indigenous population. Menchú's book later become the subject of controversy as to the veracity of certain passages and the exact circumstances of its creation. The Burgos-Debray papers contain drafts of the book (in the Speeches and Writings series) and recordings of the original interviews of Menchú done by Burgos-Debray (in the Sound Recordings series).
    Speeches and Writings series contains a number of articles written by Burgos-Debray in recent years on issues of contemporary Latin American politics. These show the evolution in Burgos-Debray's political views from a position supportive of Fidel Castro's revolution to one of open criticism of human rights violations in Cuba. In the 1990s, Burgos-Debray transcribed and edited books by Daniel "Benigno" Alarcón Ramirez and Jorge Masetti, former Cuban officials who broke with Castro and went into exile. The papers contain drafts of these books (Works edited by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray series), as well as the original interviews on which they were based ( Sound Recordings series).
    An important component of the collection is an extensive series of sound and video recordings of interviews conducted by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray with a wide range of Latin American political personalities ( Sound Recordings series, and Videorecordings series). The recordings are organized on the basis of their original arrangement by Burgos-Debray and are grouped by the name of the country they pertain to. Among the interviewees are former participants in guerrilla warfare in Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru, as well as several survivors of Che Guevara's rebel army in Bolivia. There are also interviews with former military officials involved in campaigns against these same guerrilla movements.
    There are recordings of interviews with a number of prominent Cuban women, including officials in Castro's government. There are also many done with Cuban exiles, among them former political prisoners, human rights activists, and former combatants in the early period of armed struggle against the Castro government. There are also interviews conducted in recent years with political figures in Venezuela, including one with Hugo Chávez and others with members of the opposition to Chávez.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Debray, Régis.
    Menchú, Rigoberta.
    Bolivia--Politics and government.
    Civil rights--Guatemala.
    Cuba--Politics and government--1959-1990.
    Guatemala--Politics and government.
    Indians of Central America--Guatemala.
    Latin America--Politics and government--20th century.
    Venezuela--Politics and government.