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The following post should help to put those events in perspective.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 19, 1999 at 02:09:29:

In Reply to: interesting highlights posted by Frenchy on December 17, 1999 at 15:35:29:

How's this for a response? By the way, isn't it interesting how the writer of that article never once mentioned that the Ustashe was a pro-NAZI organization!?

The following post should help to put those events in perspective. Recent evidence shows that the total death toll in Guatemala was about 250,000 and that the rigt wing government killings outnumbered the left wing killings by a factor of 23 to 1.

I guess the real lesson is that if you say you would like to give your life for the poor, in Guatemala, the capitalists will make sure you get your wish.

From "Killing hope" by William Blum.

....the last was for home consumption. There was never any
comparison between the two sides as to the quantity and cruelty
of their terror, as well as in the choice of targets; with rare
exceptions, the left attacked only legitimate political and
military enemies, clear and culpable symbols of their foe; and
they did not torture, nor take vengeance against the families of
their enemies.
Two of the left's victims were John Webber himself and the
US naval attaché, assassinated in January 1968. A bulletin
later issued by a guerrilla group stated that the assassinations
had "brought to justice the Yanqui officers who were teaching
tactics to the Guatemalan army for its war against the
In the period October 1966 to March 1968, Amnesty
International estimated, somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000
Guatemalans were killed by the police, the military, right-wing
"death squads" (often the police or military in civilian clothes,
carrying out atrocities too bloody for the government to claim
credit for), and assorted groups of civilian anti-communist
vigilantes. By 1972, the number of their victims was estimated
at 13,000. Four years later the count exceeded 20,000, murdered
or disappeared without a trace.
Anyone attempting to organize a union or other undertaking
to improve the lot of the peasants, or simply suspected of being
in support of the guerrillas, was subject ... unknown armed men
broke into their homes and dragged them away to unknown places
... their tortured or mutilated or burned bodies found buried in
a mass grave, or floating in plastic bags in a lake or river, or
lying beside the road, hands tied behind the back ... bodies
dropped into the Pacific from airplanes. In the Gual n
area, it was said, no one fished any more; too many corpses were
caught in the nets ... decapitated corpses, or castrated, or
pins stuck in the eyes ... a village rounded up, suspected of
supplying the guerrillas with men or food or information, all
adult males takenaway in front of their families, never to be
seen again ... or everyone massacred, the village bulldozed
over to cover the traces ... seldom were the victims actual
members of a guerrilla band.
One method of torture consisted of putting a hood filled
with insecticide over the head of the victim; there was also
electric shock -- to the genital area is the most effective; in
those days it was administered by using military field telephones
hooked up to small generators; the United States supplied the
equipment and the instructions for use to several countries,
including South Vietnam where the large-scale counter-insurgency
operation was producing new methods and devices for extracting
information from uncooperative prisoners; some of these
techniques were finding their way to Latin America.{11}
The Green Berets taught their Guatemalan trainees various
methods of "interrogation", but they were not solely classroom
warriors. Their presence in the countryside was reported
frequently, accompanying Guatemalan soldiers into battle areas;
the line separating the advisory role from the combat role is
often a matter of public relations. Thomas and Marjorie Melville, American Catholic missionaries
in Guatemala from the mid-1950s until the end of 1967, have
written that Col. Webber "made no secret of the fact that it was
his idea and at his instigation that the technique of
counter-terror had been implemented by the Guatemalan Army in the
Zacapa and Izabal areas."{12} The Melvilles wrote also of Major
Bernard Westfall of Iowa City who:

perished in September 1967 in the crash of a Guatemalan
Air Force jet that he was piloting alone. The official
notices stated that the US airman was "testing" the
aeroplane. That statement may have been true, but it is
also true that it was a common and public topic of
conversation at Guatemala's La Aurora air base that the
Major often "tested" Guatemalan aircraft in strafing and
bombing runs against guerrilla encampments in the
Northeastern territory.{13}

F-51(D) fighter planes modified by the United States for use
against guerrillas in Guatemala ... after modification, the
planes are capable of patrolling for five hours over a limited
area ... equipped with six .50-calibre machine guns and wing
mountings for bombs, napalm and 5-inch air-to-ground rockets.{14}
The napalm falls on villages, on precious crops, on people ...
American pilots take off from Panama, deliver loads of napalm on
targets suspected of being guerrilla refuges, and return to
Panama{15} ... the napalm explodes like fireworks and a mass of
brilliant red foam spreads over the land, incinerating all that
falls in its way, cedars and pines are burned down to the roots,
animals grilled, the earth scorched ... the guerrillas will not
have this place for a sanctuary any longer, nor will they or
anyone else derive food from it ... halfway around the world in
Vietnam, there is an instant replay.

"The military guys who do this are like serial killers. If
Jeffrey Dahmer had been in Guatemala, he would be a general by
now." ... In Guatemala City, right-wing terrorists machine-gunned
people and houses in full light of day ... journalists, lawyers,
students, teachers, trade unionists, members of opposition
parties, anyone who helped or expressed sympathy for the rebel
cause, anyone with a vaguely-leftist political association or a
moderate criticism of government policy ... relatives of the
victims, guilty of kinship ... common criminals, eliminated to
purify the society, taken from jails and shot. "See a Communist,
kill a Communist", the slogan of the New Anticommunist
Organization ... an informer with hooded face accompanies the
police along a city street or into the countryside, pointing
people out: who shall live and who shall die ... "this one's a
son of a bitch" ... "that one ... " Men found dead with their
eyes gouged out, their testicles in their mouth, without hands or
tongues, women with breasts cut off ... there is rarely a witness
to a killing, even when people are dragged from their homes at
high noon and executed in the street ... a relative will choose
exile rather than take the matter to the authorities ... the
government joins the family in mourning the victim ...{17}
One of the death squads, Mano Blanca (White Hand), sent a
death warning to a student leader. Former American Maryknoll
priest Blase Bonpane has written:

I went alone to visit the head of the Mano Blanca and asked
him why he was going to kill this lad. At first he denied
sending the letter, but after a bit of discussion with him
and his first assistant, the assistant said, "Well, I know
he's a Communist and so we're going to kill him."
"How do you know?" I asked.
He said, "I know he's a Communist because I heard him say
he would give his life for the poor."{18}

Mano Blanca distributed leaflets in residential areas
suggesting that doors of left-wingers be marked with a black

In August 1968, a young French woman, Michele Kirk, shot herself
in Guatemala City as the police came to her room to make
"inquiries". In her notebook Michele had written:

It is hard to find the words to express the state of
putrefaction that exists in Guatemala, and the permanent
terror in which the inhabitants live. Every day bodies
are pulled out of the Motagua River, riddled with bullets
and partially eaten by fish. Every day men are kidnapped
right in the street by unidentified people in cars, armed
to the teeth, with no intervention by the police patrols.{21}

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