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Maya and Catholic Cultures in Crisis$
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John Early

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813040134

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813040134.001.0001

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Guatemala: The Role of the Maya in the Worldview of Marxist Insurgency

Guatemala: The Role of the Maya in the Worldview of Marxist Insurgency

(p.235) 17 Guatemala: The Role of the Maya in the Worldview of Marxist Insurgency
Maya and Catholic Cultures in Crisis

John D. Early

University Press of Florida

This chapter sketches the background that led to Guatemalan Maya involvement in a Marxist armed insurrection. There was a national crisis fed by governmental corruption. In reaction, national leftist parties began to plan and organize an armed revolution. The Maya became a key element in these plans. Among the Maya, Catholic Action communities were targeted because they were well organized, had been brought to social consciousness, and were actively seeking to reform the system by nonviolent means. The insurgent Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EPG) needed to bring them a step further, dispel the illusion of peaceful reform, provide them with arms, and make them see that armed insurgency was the only possible means for reform. Driven by frustration at the failure of their reform efforts and by the brutality of army tactics, many young Catholic Action Maya readily joined the revolutionaries. In 1979 the insurgents' morale was high, encouraged by their successes in the Ixcán, Ixil, and northern highlands of Huehuetenango. The victory of the Nicaraguan insurgency with the fall of Somoza and the successes of the insurgency in El Salvador further raised their morale.

Keywords:   armed insurgency, national crisis, Catholic Action, Guerrilla Army of the Poor, frustrated reform, Nicaragua, El Salvador

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