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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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Blind Eyes and Willful Ignorance

Blind Eyes and Willful Ignorance

U.S. Foreign Policy, Media, and Foreign Evangelicals

(p.145) 6 Blind Eyes and Willful Ignorance
Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit

Virginia Garrard‐Burnett

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses newly declassified documents to examine how the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala turned a blind eye to the excesses of the Ríos Montt regime in order to help advance U.S. strategic goals in the region. Then it examines the support that Ríos Montt enjoyed from conservative evangelicals in Reagan‐era America, who saw the general as a “Christian soldier” and ally in the Central American Cold War. Last, this chapter analyzes foreign and domestic media coverage of Guatemala in the early 1980s. The chapter suggests that because this coverage was nearly nonexistent, particularly compared to coverage of El Salvador and Nicaragua, it allowed policymakers, foreign evangelicals, and urban Guatemalans to ignore or claim willful ignorance of the events that were taking place in their name in the countryside. This chapter is based primarily on declassified State Department and U.S. Embassy documents made available through the National Security Archives.

Keywords:   U.S. State Department, Ronald Reagan, Christian soldier, Ríos Montt, Central America, media

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