<= 2001.05.26

2001.06.02 =>

fusiles y frijoles

Reading today: Jennifer Schirmer's The Guatemalan Military Project, unusual among exposés in that it includes candid and detailed interviews with many top-ranking Guatemalan officials, including three former presidents. The most revealing interviews are those with General Héctor Gramajo, defense minister from 1987 to 1990. They detail the nuts and bolts of just how a repressive society is put together. In 1982, with the coup that placed Ríos Mott in power, the Guatemalan military implemented a "30/70" program of "Beans and Bullets" in fighting insurgency in local villages. As Gramajo explains:

So we had 70 percent Beans and 30 percent Bullets. That is, rather than killing 100 percent, we provided food for 70 percent. Before, you see, the doctrine was 100 percent, we killed 100 percent before this.

Under the new system, after a selective massacre was carried out in certain villages, they would be rebuilt and the remaining inhabitants forced to live in a psuedo-military installation with the same name as the old village, only now with barbed wire and watchtowers. Food was rationed in exchange for work, usually construction labor, and men were forced to join the military as "civil patrollers" whose task was to root out guerrilla elements in the village, or risk torture or death themselves. The new villages were called "Poles of Development" and even had their own mascot, Polín Polainas, who is depicted as a smiling Mayan boy on the back of a 1985 propaganda pamphlet, with the caption:

Yesterday from Quiché, today from Sololá, Polín Polainas, candid and courteous, comes to plow the Guatemalan fields, leaving in his wake his exemplary studied love, and inspiring the portent of peace, development and accord, like supreme yearnings for a national unity. His attire doesn't matter. His origin doesn't matter. Polín Polainas is omnidimensional. Polín is omnipresent!

 

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