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

By Virginia Garrard-Burnett | Go to book overview

Epilogue

Guatemala no canta, no baila, no danza.

—Anonymous

In the first chapter of this book, I suggested that the twentieth century will be remembered as the century of genocides. It is easy and perhaps worthwhile to debate the use of this word, which has been variously defined to the point of overspecificity (does the killing of 10,000 constitute genocide but 1,000 does not? What about 100?) or trivialized to the point of meaninglessness (a 2006 news story called the arrest of twenty African American men in San Francisco a “form of genocide”).1 The precise definition of genocide remains a contested juridical issue, although, as I pointed out in the first chapter of this book, the popular or moral weight of the word is not nearly so exact. In 1944, Raphael Lemkin, the father of the term, defined genocide quite simply as “the destruction of a nation or ethnic group.”2 Jurists soon introduced the question of intentionality, weighing whether or not a government or leader pursued the large-scale killing of a group of people as an intentional (as opposed to a reactive) policy. At one extreme of the debate about what constitutes genocide are historians such as Steven L. Katz, who argues that the Nazi Holocaust was the only “true” genocide, an “event without precedents or parallels in modern history”; at the other end of the spectrum, Israel W. Charny proposes a “generic” definition of genocide that is “powerfully inclusive; that seeks to create a conceptual base that includes all known

-167-

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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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