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Terror in the Land of the Holy SpiritGuatemala Under General Efrain Rios Montt, 1982-1983$
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Virginia Garrard-Burnett

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195379648

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195379648.001.0001

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Guatemala’s Descent into Violence

Guatemala’s Descent into Violence

(p.23) 2 Guatemala’s Descent into Violence
Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit

Virginia Garrard‐Burnett

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a background to the violence of the early 1980s. It explores the evolution of the revolutionary Left in the 1960s and 1970s. This chapter also explores the development of a well‐defined counterinsurgency movement in Guatemala and its methodical use of terror as a means of controlling the population and staunching the growth of the Marxist opposition. This chapter suggests that by the late 1970s, the ideology of counterinsurgency had degenerated into a chaotic culture of violence that repudiated the authority of the state. Much of the material for this chapter comes from secondary sources. However, it also utilizes primary sources from personal papers of Mario Payeras, who was a founder and intellectual leader of the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres, which have only recently become available for scholarly use.

Keywords:   violence, revolutionary Left, counterinsurgency, culture of violence

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