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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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(p.85) 4 Terror
Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit

Virginia Garrard‐Burnett

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes a close‐grained look at the impact of violence on Mayan communities during the scorched‐earth campaign of the early 1980s. It explores one massacre in detail. The chapter offers observations about the culpability of soldiers and policymakers involved in such events, but it also examines kinds of motivations and self‐interest that compelled local villagers to support the military in its assaults on their own families and communities. This chapter seeks to complicate our understanding of state violence by emphasizing the degree to which ordinary people readily engage in what has been called “autogenocide” in order to protect their own self‐interests. This chapter uses primary and secondary sources to interrogate the impact of violence at the local level. It uses human rights accounts, personal interviews, and reports by nongovernmental organizations and the Catholic Church to explore the ethnic, gendered, and intergenerational aspects of violence.

Keywords:   massacre, scorched‐earth campaign, gender, violence, Maya

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