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Guatemala Genocide

Social Studies, Related Issue 2 Assigment

Jessica Simpson

on 24 May 2011

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Transcript of Guatemala Genocide

Guatemala The Guatemalan genocide started in 1982 and ended in 1984. During this time period over 200,000 people died; 95% were mayan-indios, and over 400 villages were destroyed. 93% of these actions were taken by the military. How was ultranationalism related to these events, and how did ultranationalism lead to the genocide? The people who came to settle in Guatemlala were refered to as Ladinos. Ladinos came from European countries such as Spain and France. They became weathier than the Mayans and soon became the more dominant race. They also spoke Spanish or other European languages, while the Mayans spoke their own indigenous languages. During "10 Years of Springtime" from 1944-54, a democratic government, peasants and poverty stricken people were assisted in owning their own land and recieving an education. This angered bourgeois and the military, and they declared the government communists and spread fear of communism to civilians. A sense of nationalism was created on the shared feeling of communist fear. Soon anyone who was a Mayan was labelled as a Guerilla and a threat to Guatemala. Anyone could be deemed as a "subversive" and targeted. Although Guerrillas would come into the Mayan villages and attempt to recruit the Mayan peoples, few joined. Some Mayans would join to avoid being recruited into the Guatemalan army. People in the villages were told by soldiers not to trust the Guerillas. The army forced their way into homes and would take able men to fight on their side. Mayan men were forced to show soliders where there were Mayan villages or people in hiding. which they were then forced to kill. Those who were lucky enough to escape their homes in time would attempt to make it across the border into Mexico where there were refugee camps. As political instability grew, the Ladinos labeled Guerrillas and Mayans as their scapegoat, this lead to their support of the military and the military's overthrow of the democratic government in 1954 (led by General Carlos Armas) , to be replaced with a strict military dictatorship. This increased non-Mayan people's feeling of nationalsim and pride in their military. Military dictatorship was always fearful of opponents, which caused them to instill an "obscured popular support for anti-communism" in the people of Guatemala "The undeniable existance of racism as a doctrine of society explains the brutality with which military operations were carried out against Mayan communities" -Commision for Historical Clarification Ladinos always believed they were the superior race, and put Mayans on the lowest societal, economic and political levels, which inspired Guerillas to want to overthrow government and have a better quality of life. Dictatorship began a "scorched earth campaign" in which the government promised they would "scorch all communists", but this target soon spread to Mayans and isolated villages that were culturally different from the rest of Guatemala. The people left behind were the women, children and older people who were of no use to the soliders. These people were beaten, raped and tortured until they died. Villages were looted for anything that would the soldiers wanted and then burned away, with the bodies, to the point you would not even know that a village had been there before. Mayans were seperated into camps based on their loyalities. These were often known as model villages by the army where they were forced to do hard labour. Guerillas were depicted as Che Guevaras with devils tails and horns; used propoganda to convince people of the dangers of the guerrillas to civilians. Government created racial words and language for the Mayans that were used by Ladinos. Indoctrination convinced Ladinos that Mayans were guerrillas and enemies, and allowed them to not feel bad about murders or abuses. Army destroyed cultural ties in communites and family connections by killing elders and destroying trust between Guatemalans "defined concept of an internal enemy" Today, the large part of the Mayan population today is still living with poverty, racism, high amounts of illerteracy and malnutrition. They also have to face the emotional and physical scars caused by the genocide Those who fled there villages and survived must start there whole lives over again. many Mayans feel unsafe in there own homes and fear that one day the soliders will come back but they are picking up their lives and slowly recovering. Many of them have been forced to be assimilated into "mainstream" Guatemalan culture in order to survive. In 2001, 12 Mayan communities brought charges against the former dictator, Erfrain Rios Montt who had been the one in power to set in motion the widespread death of all the Mayans.
The destruction of the past have been put as right as much as they can. Four former soldiers were tried in court and three were found guilty and sentenced to death. All Guerilla forces were disarmed and reintergrated into the society. In 1996 a peace agreement was signed and the country now has a democratic government. This new government is led by a former human rights person. this was known as "the silent holocaust" the United States provided the Guatemalan government with weapons and military knowledge. soldiers were sent to school of Americas for their military training. The Guatemalan army then used this knowledge to invade Mayan towns and abuse or kill most or all of the villagers, burn down entire towns and force thousands of villagers to become refugees. The army had total control to do whatever they wanted because while the Ladinos supported them, they had no idea of the extent of damage caused. people began disappering, in tecnique called "disapperance". When people asked of the disapperances, the soldiers said that it was not true and those people did not even exsist. Mayans are the indigenous peoples who made up the majority of the population in Guatemala, and have experienced over 500 years of repression, marginilization and discrimation since Spanish colonization. They are generally poor, live in isolated villages, and work on big commercial farms owned by the government to support themselves. They also have a strong sense of connection to their culture, which values their traditional ways of life. Genocide Decades of dictatorships ruled Guatemala, in which the rich Ladinos and military became richer, while peasants and Mayans barely had enough to survive. Mayans had their own sense of nationalism and identity, but the government and Ladinos attempted to instill a sense of "Guatemalan identity and nationalism" in order to exterminate the Mayan culture. This angered peasants and impoverished peoples, which lead to the formation of guerrilla groups who supported communism and equality for all people. Mayan people also began to speak out about their lack of rights and peacefully approached the government to ask for more freedoms. The Guatemalan genocide has never recieved much international recognition, and was only recently seen as truly an "ethnic cleansing".
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