Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit

Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit : Guatemala Under General Efrain Rios Montt, 1982-1983

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Between 1982 and 1983, in the name of anti-communism the military government of Guatemala prosecuted a scorched-earth campaign of terror against largely Mayan rural communities. Under the leadership of General Efrain Rios Montt, tens of thousands of people perished in what is now known as la violencia, or 'the Mayan holocaust.' Rios Montt, Guatemala's president-by-coup was, and is, an outspokenly born-again Pentecostal Christian - a fact that would seem to be at odds with the atrocities that took place on his watch. Virginia Garrard-Burnett's book is the first in English to view the Rios Montt era through the lens of history. Drawing on newly-available primary sources such as guerrilla documents, evangelical pamphlets, speech transcripts, and declassified US government records, she is able to provide a fine-grained picture of what happened during Rios Montt's rule. Looking back over Guatemalan history between 1954 and the late 1970s, she finds that three decades of war engendered an ideology of violence that cut across class, cultures, communities, religions, and even families.
Many Guatemalans converted to Pentecostalism during this period, she says, because of the affinity between these churches' apocalyptic message and the violence of their everyday reality. Examining the role of outside players and observers: The US government, evangelical groups, and the media, she contends that self-interest, willful ignorance, and distraction permitted the human rights tragedies within Guatemala to take place without challenge from the outside world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 4 black and white halftone illustrations
  • 0195379640
  • 9780195379648

Table of contents

Prologue ; 1. Rios Montt Earns His Place in the History Books: Debates about La Violence ; 2. Guatemala's Descent into an Ideology of Violence ; 3. Rios Montt and the New Guatemala ; 4. Violence ; 5. "Los que matan en el nombre de Dios:" Rios Montt and the Religious Question ; 6. Blind Eyes and Willful Ignorance: US Foreign Policy, Media, and Foreign Evangelicals ; Epilogue
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Review quote

This work secures a solid place among some of the dominant works in modern Latin American historiography, particularly in its positioning within the field of subaltern studies. While remaining sensitive to the voice and agency of the victims of the genocide, Garrard- Burnett relies heavily on truth commission reports to provide a clear analysis of the influences of evangelical rhetoric that saturated Guatemala's violent struggles of the late Cold War. This useful,
insightful work deserves a wide reading among students and specialists alike.. * Hispanic American Historical Review * Virginia Garrard-Burnett's examination of General Efrain Rios Montt is one of the best available historicalpolitical analyses of Guatemala's brutal armed conflict...Garrard-Burnett is arguably one of the most important contemporary historians of Protestantism in Latin America. In this slim volume, she not only demonstrates her deep and nuanced understanding of the evangelical movement in Guatemala but also explains the dynamics and contours of the political crisis
that brought Rios Montt to power in 1982.. * American Historical Review * This is a careful narrative and sober analysis of Mott's seventeenth-month regime in Guatemala. * Religious Studies Review * In a country still torn over the war by polarizing accusations amplified by righteous self-exculpation, Garrard-Burnett listens carefully to as many sides as her sources allow-the Left, the Right, Catholic activists, evangelicals, the US embassy-to conclude that states turn genocidal, not just because they can, but because both perpetrators and public come to see their self-preservation, if not salvation, at stake. In helping us understand better that
self-preservation, this book also speaks with respect-and hope-to the survivors. We should all be listening carefully. * John Watanabe, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dartmouth College *
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About Virginia Garrard-Burnett

Garrard Burnett is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin
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Rating details

13 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 38% (5)
4 23% (3)
3 23% (3)
2 8% (1)
1 8% (1)
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