CRY OF THE PEOPLE: United States' Involvement in the Rise of Fascism, Torture, and Murder, and the Persecution of the Catholic Church in Latin America by Penny Lernoux

CRY OF THE PEOPLE: United States' Involvement in the Rise of Fascism, Torture, and Murder, and the Persecution of the Catholic Church in Latin America

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This long, angry, richly documented, badly organized book tackles three enormous topics at once: the horrors of life in Latin America today, the various guilty ties binding the U.S. military-industrial complex and oppressive regimes all over the hemisphere, and the place of the Catholic Church in all this mess. Lernoux is a journalist based in Bogota, and she knows what she's talking about. She takes the reader on a grisly guided tour, from the murder of Fr. Rodolfo Aguilar in Chihuahua, to the massacre of peasants and priests in Olancho (Honduras), to Gulf & Western's ravages in the Dominican Republic, to the starving Indians of Chimborazo (Ecuador), the ecocide of the Amazon basin, and the triumph of fascism in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Lernoux combines broadscale narrative (the infamous career of the United Fruit Company, etc.), thumbnail sketches (the torture and eventual suicide of a young Brazilian priest, Fr. Tito de AlenÇar), and statistics (the U.S. has intervened militarily in Latin America 69 times since 1850). The cumulative effect of all this is overwhelming. Of course, it's also, in a sense, old hat: the basic arguments of Lernoux's case, and the facts she backs them up with, are so well established that only Anastasio Somoza--or Ronald Reagan--would seriously try to refute her. Still, she brings to this sorry subject both moral passion and competent prose, and, familiar or not, her story hits home. Unfortunately, she fails to work her three themes into a clear and coherent pattern. She has an astonishing knowledge of details, but a weak grasp of the overall situation. She downplays the likelihood of violent revolution--even while events in Nicaragua and El Salvador suggest the opposite. She writes movingly of radical Catholic martyrs and the Church's heroic role in resisting dictators, while ignoring the larger question of whether the alliance between Catholicism and the forces of reform is an organic, inevitable connection or, quite literally, a shotgun wedding. Despite its chaotic structure, a useful and sometimes extremely powerful report.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday