HARVEST OF VIOLENCE: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis by Robert M.--Ed. Carmack

HARVEST OF VIOLENCE: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Essays on the government's repression of the Guatemalan Mayan Indian population; by ten anthropologists, a geographer, and a political scientist, all with extensive experience in Guatemala. Mayans represent about 55% of the Guatemalan population of eight million. However, they have gotten trapped in the middle of a political game of cat-and-mouse between government forces and Marxist guerrillas who often use the Mayan villages as bases for their forces. Utilizing their field experience and numerous contacts with Indian informants, the dozen essayists document the gruesome consequences, including mass extinctions of some villages, assassinations of project leaders, random murders, etc. ""In March 1981, 15 members of our coop were dragged from their homes and murdered by the military. In December 1981, assassins in Army uniforms and with government trucks entered a remote village and assassinated several coop leaders. Five others were found later, crucified with sharp sticks to the ground and tortured to death."" Another Mayan testifies: ""My brother. . .was crucified between two trees. After being stabbed in the side, he was strangled."" Reports another: ""Entire families were killed in cold blood, riddled with bullets as they cowered in their beds and houses. When it was finally over, fifty people had been killed, many of them women and children."" The writers here scoff at the official American stance that takes a wait-and-see attitude to the infant Christian Democratic presidency of Cerezo, who replaced years of military rule in December of 1985 (elsewhere he is quoted as saying: ""We haven't had a coup d'etat in over six months. It's almost boring""). But, as in Asia, the nature of the conflict and the terrain often make it difficult to differentiate between villagers and the Marxist guerrillas that they sometimes harbor. A chilling exposure of a brutal repression that has somehow escaped the headlines.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma Press