Aftermath Part II

Aftermath Part II

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Hi, and welcome to the third episode of Safe for Democracy.

Which is the second part of the Aftermath, which, in four shows, is the second part of our overarching series on Guatemala.



Last time we worked our way from the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 through the repressive regimes of Carlos Castillo Armas and Jose Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes and how they provoked the creation of a guerrilla movement and the way the State and the guerrilla came together in a conflagration of violence—in which the rebels got much the worst of things—towards the end of the 1960s.

This episode’s a little less dark.

Violence in Guatemala was cyclical: State repression provoked demonstrations and organizing on the part of the populace, which invited greater repression that tended to wipe opposition out. And in the lull after the greatest waves of violence gave Guatemalan society time to begin rebuilding itself, time and again.

Today’s show covers the last such lull that Guatemala would have for a very long time.

This time we’re looking at the growth of Liberation Theology and radical social Catholicism in Guatemala and the parallel and related growth of the pan-indigenous movement that gave Maya Guatemalans a commanding, national voice for the first time in centuries.

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I hope you guys aren’t tired of these two maps, and that they’re helping you out if you need them.



Wasn't kidding about the crude
A crude map I drew to help myself out


Here's another much larger, much more detailed map for reference. Click to see it full size.
And here’s another much larger, much more detailed, actually accurate map for reference. Click to see it full size.


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As promised in the episode, here are some of the pictures from Pensemos JuntosLet’s Think Together, a book that the Catholic Action radio schools put together to do liberation education in the countryside, designed along the lines of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

From Pensemos Juntos, reproduced in Betsy Konefal's For Every Indio Who Falls
From Pensemos Juntos, reproduced in Betsy Konefal’s For Every Indio Who Falls

“…this lesson included the text of Guatemala’s minimum wage law. Participants would then study the image and discuss it, considering questions like these: Who goes and who does not go to work on the coast? Why are they all crowded in the truck? What is going to happen? How does the labor contractor treat the people? How will they be treated by the owner and overseer on the finca? Why do people have to go? What can we do to avoid having to go? ¿Qué pensamos nosotros? What do we think?”


“Why are the two men dressed differently? What differences are there between the two women? Can the indigenous woman sell well if she doesn’t speak good Spanish? What does an indigenous man think when he sees an indigenous woman speaking Spanish? How does a Ladino treat an indigenous customer? How does an indígena treat a Ladino customer? What are the differences between Ladinos and indígenas? Who has made Ladinos and indígenas different? Why do indígenas respect Ladinos so much? Why don’t Ladinos respect indígenas? How can the treatment of indígenas and Ladinos become equal? What do we think?”


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And always last though never least, works cited:

“Controlling the Counterinsurgency: Plan De Campaña ‘Victoria 82′” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book.

“The Guatemalan Military: What the U.S. Files Reveal National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book.

“Attacks on Ex-Priests, Liberation Theology Misfire.” The Gazette, April 2, 1986.

“Guatemala Chief Hits Critics in US” 1954. New York Times (1923-Current File), Feb 5, 1954.

“Guatemala’s ‘Plot’ Charges Denounced.” The Washington Post (1923-1954), Jan 31, 1954.

Memory of Silence: The Guatemalan Truth Commission Report, edited by Daniel Rothenberg. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Amnesty International. 1976. Amnesty International Annual Report 1975-1976. London, UK: Amnesty International Publications.

Booth, John A. “Global Forces and Regime Change: Guatemala in the Central American Context.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 42 (4): 59-87.

Cullather, Nick and Piero Gleijeses. 1999. Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Geyer, Georgie Anne. “U.S. Role Grows in Guatemala Rebel Threat.” The Washington Post, Times Herald, Dec 13, 1966.

Goodsell, James Nelson. “US Steps Up Aid, Concern for Central America Nations.” The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 20, 1980.

Hall, Patricia K. “Military Rule Threatens Guatemala’s Highland Maya Indians.” Cultural Survival Quarterly, Jun 30, 1986.

Houser, Henry P. “Guatemala’s Bishops Change Directions.” 1992. The Christian Century, Jun 17, 1992, 605.

Konefal, Betsy. For Every Indio Who Falls: A History of Maya Activism in Guatemala, 1960-1990. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2010.

Nairn, Allan. “The Guns of Guatemala: The Merciless Mission of Rios Montt’s Army.” The New Republic, Apr 11, 1983.

Novak, Michael. “The Case Against Liberation Theology.” New York Times, Oct 21, 1984.

Scharper, Stephen B. “Explaining Liberation Theology.” New York Times, Dec 2, 1984.

Schelsinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1982.

Schirmer, Jennifer. Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights: The Guatemalan Military Project : A Violence Called Democracy. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

Schneider, Ronald M. Communism in Guatemala, 1944-1954: With a Foreword by Arthur P. Whitaker. (Pa. Univ. for Policy Research Inst. Ser. no. 7) (Praeger Pubns. in Russian Hist. and World Communism no. 80), 1959.

Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens. 2004. “From Symbols of the Sacred to Symbols of Subversion to Simply Obscure: Maryknoll Women Religious in Guatemala, 1953 to 1967*.” The Americas 61 (2): 189.

Tho, Brigadier General Tran Dinh. Pacification. US Army in Vietnam. Washington, DC: US Army Center of Military History, 1980.

Audio Acknowledgements

Britain, Dexter. “Seven”

Cooper, Alisdair. “When I Grow Up”

Engel, Kai. “Somnolence”

Hefferman, Jon Luc. “Treacherous Voyage” 

Gardner, Howard. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed: A Conversation with Profs. Noam Chomsky and Bruno della Chiesa.” Talk at the Askwith Forum at the Harvard School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 1, 2013.

Mejía, Carlos. “La Misa Campesina”

National Archives – Heirs of Vladimir Lenin – National Security Council. Central Intelligence Agency. (09/18/1947 – 12/04/1981 – ARC 1662120 / LI 263.1161 (NBC Guatemala Documentary Audio)



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