Beware the Demons Loosed by Guatemala's Coup

By McConahay, Mary Jo | National Catholic Reporter, June 4, 1993 | Go to article overview

Beware the Demons Loosed by Guatemala's Coup


McConahay, Mary Jo, National Catholic Reporter


GUATEMALA CITY -- Unless they are reined in quickly, the antidemocratic demons unleashed by Guatemalan President Jorge Serrano's predawn "selfcoup" May 25 could spread quickly to the rest of Central and Latin America.

Clearly inspired by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's successful selfcoup last year, Serrano's action will be closely watched by military and civilian authorities elsewhere on the continent. If it holds, they easily could see it as an acceptable model for bloodlessly suppressing growing discontent at a time when Latin America is considered one of the hottest economic regions in the world.

Because of its potential spillover effect, Serrano's suspension of key constitutional rights and the dissolution of Congress also confronts the Clinton administration with its first Latin American challenge. "If I were in Washington, I'd be asking myself now, 'How does this look from Mexico City or San Salvador?'" said one longtime U.S. expert on Guatemala.

For analysts struggling to determine why Serrano chose this moment to stage the coup, the answers are several:

* Serrano was facing increasing calls for investigation of his personal finances and accumulation of real estate since he took office two years ago. Like Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Peres and recently impeached Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello, Serrano could have found his position imperiled by an unraveling corruption scandal.

* Serrano was under growing pressure from the army to show a strong fist, even as the army was being pressured to negotiate a peace treaty with guerrillas it had defeated militarily. Recent court cases that for the first time found military officers guilty of murdering civilians and mounting opposition in the countryside to forced conscription and service in paramilitary patrols added to the military's discontent.

* Serrano and the military were both stunned by the intensity of resistance to recent decisions to raise electricity prices and issue a national student identity card. In protests last week, thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets in small but provocative antigovernment demonstrations, thereby underscoring a deeper public distrust of Serrano's government.

Serrano is banking on public support for the coup with a cap on electricity prices for the poorest users and pledges to guarantee funds to public hospitals. "We're in favor of him in this path," said Rina Reyes, 45, a maid who makes $45 a month and recently paid $16 for electricity. She expects her post-coup light bills to run under $5.

Citizens unanimously agree with Serrano's condemnation of most congressmen and his frustration with the judicial system -- which he also disbanded. "But did he have to suspend the constitution to do it?" wondered a parking lot attendant uneasily, in a typical reaction.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beware the Demons Loosed by Guatemala's Coup
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.