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The Maya Heritage

The Maya have lived in Central America for many centuries. They are one of the many Precolumbian native peoples of Mesoamerica. In the past and today they occupy Guatemala, adjacent portions of Chiapas and Tabasco, the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the western edges of Honduras and Salvador. The Maya speak many different languages, as, for instance, Quiché and Cakchiquel of the…

The American Anthropological Association Motion to Create a Task Force on Guatemala

Whereas, on December 4, 1982, the President of the United States has indicated that he will support military aid to Guatemala; and Whereas, the military government of Guatemala is repressing the population of that country to an unprecedented degree; Therefore, be it moved that the American Anthropological Association condemn the genocide being perpetuated by the Guatemalan Government, and that it…

Introduction - 7.1

We have interrupted the schedule of the Quarterly to publish this issue on Guatemala. Although in Guatemala the most dramatic acts of violence have subsided, profound changes are overtaking the nation while international attention focuses on other issues and areas of the world. After a series of massacres of innocent people - mostly Indians, General Efraín Ríos Montt and his supporters now claim…

Editorial - 7.1

As the global recession reaches the Third World, developing nations have begun to adopt "nationals first" policies. To relieve unemployment, many governments have decided to evict foreign nationals. Nigeria, Kenya, and Switzerland have all expelled foreign workers. It is likely that other African and Western European countries will soon follow suit. Immigrant workers have no protection against…

Central American Policy: A Democratic Alternative

We believe that the course of U.S. foreign policy in Central America should be changed. The Reagan Administration's extreme approach is fostering not peace and democracy, but increased polarization and radicalization. Since January 1981, brutal civil wars have intensified in El Salvador and Guatemala, the threat of war between Nicaragua and Honduras has increased partly because of U.S. actions,…

Human Rights under the Khomeini Regime in Iran

The people of Iran today are reeling in shock and disbelief at the oppression, devastation, and violence the Khomeini regime has wreaked upon their land. In Iran, the state is organized to suppress a society in both its private and public affairs. Under the pretext of religion, it has declared a "holy war" on its own populace. Any disagreement or discontent with Khomeini, his regime, or their…

Guatemala: The New Jerusalem of the Americas?

Hundreds of thousands of evangelicals gathered here November 28 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Protestantism in Guatemala. Only divine providence, they believe, can explain this year's remarkable turn of events. In March, the overthrow of a parish regime brought to power General Efraín Ríos Montt, convert of the California-based Church of the Word and first born-again dictator in history.…

Brazilian Indians Find Their Voice

Mario Juruna, a Shavante from Namunkurá in the state of Mato Grosso, has become the first Indian ever elected to congress in Brazil. He left his native state to run for ejection in Rio de Janeiro and was voted in as a Federal Deputy on the ticket of the PDT (Democratic Workers' Party) last November. The PDT, considered more radical than the major opposition party, the PMDB (The Party of the…

The Social Consequences of "Development" Aid in Guatemala

Section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act requires that the U.S. Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) oppose any aid for a country whose government is a gross and consistent violator of internationally recognized human rights, except when such aid is designed to meet basic human needs. Last August, the Subcommittee on International Development…

The Shavante Struggle For Their Lands

The Shavante Indians used to live between the Tocantins and Araguaia rivers of central Brazil, close to the huge inland island of Bananal. They fought the gold miners who entered their territory in the eighteenth century and then moved away southwestward over a hundred years ago to their present habitat west of the Araguaia. The frontier caught up with them again in the 1930s and they quickly…

The Guatemalan Indian Civil Rights Movement

A few years ago, before the present wave of violence in Guatemala, I lived in a Mayan Indian community in the northwestern part of the country, an area where whole populations of Indian hamlets have been massacred in recent military operations. When I was there for a year in 1972-73 and the summer of 1975 the outlines of the present conflict were already forming. I spent most of my time in the…

A Brief History of the Indians of Southern Bahia, Brazil

The area between the Colonia (or Cachoeira) and Pardo rivers, in the municipalities of Itajú do Colônia, Pau-Brasil and Camaca, has been occupied by the Pataxó-Hahahai and Baena Indians from the time of the earliest records of the region (1610) to the present. The advance of the national society in this southern area of the state of Bahia led to continual reductions in the area inhabited by…