Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efraain Raios Montt, 1982-1983

By Virginia Garrard-Burnett | Go to book overview

1
Ríos Montt Earns His Place
in the History Books
Debates about la Violencia

El Silencio
Guardaré silencio
Para escucharte.…
Pero
No hablés
Para callarme
.

—Humberto Ak’abal, Raqonchi’aj, Grito

General José Efraín Ríos Montt was Guatemala’s first Pentecostal chief of state, an enigmatic and paradoxical figure who simultaneously spoke of bringing both God’s love and scorched earth to the countryside without apparent contradiction. Ríos Montt served as Guatemala’s head of state for seventeen tumultuous months in 1982–1983, a period now known in Guatemalan history as la violencia, although it was spoken of at the time, if at all, in hushed tones, simply as la situación. This sobriquet places Ríos Montt’s administration at the core, the violent and bloody nadir, of the nation’s thirty-six-year struggle between a leftist armed insurgency and the Guatemalan military government, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. The violence of the early 1980s places Guatemala squarely in the company of nations that in the twentieth century purposefully did great harm to their own citizens in order to “save” the state and its interests from a hostile ideology that seemed to, or in fact did, threaten its demise. Historians of the future may well come to define the twentieth

-3-

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Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efraain Raios Montt, 1982-1983
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface- Some Notes on - Appropriateness in the Writing of History vii
  • Contents xvii
  • 1 - Ríos Montt Earns His Place in the History Books 3
  • 2 - Guatemala’s Descent into Violence 23
  • 3 - Ríos Montt and the New Guatemala 53
  • 4 - Terror 85
  • 5 - "Los Que Matan En El Nombre de Dios" 113
  • 6 - Blind Eyes and Willful Ignorance 145
  • Epilogue 167
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 233
  • Index 255
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