Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala by Linda Green

By Linda Green

Among the past due Seventies and the mid-1980s, the folks of Guatemala have been subjected to a state-sponsored crusade of political violence and repression designed not to in basic terms defeat a left-wing, innovative insurgency but in addition spoil Mayan groups and tradition. The Mayan Indians within the western highlands have been classified by way of the govt. as innovative sympathizers, and plenty of Mayan girls misplaced husbands, sons, and different kinfolk who have been brutally murdered or who easily "disappeared."Based on years of box study performed within the rural highlands, worry as a life-style strains the difficult hyperlinks among the hot political violence and repression and the long term systemic violence hooked up with type inequalities and gender and ethnic oppression----the violence of lifestyle.

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While some Mayas have shed their indigenous identities altogether and become “ladinoized” as a survival tactic in urban areas as well as rural communities, Mayan women continue to wear their traje (traditional clothing fashioned from handwoven cloth) as a symbol of pride even as it marks them for denigration as Indians. To many, cultural recognition—what the widows in Xe’caj referred to as an expression of “la dignidad de ser humanos” (the dignity of human beings)—is as integral to and inseparable from their struggles for economic and social justice in Guatemala as it is to the participants in the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico (Nash ; Gossen ; Sider ).

Structural violence is embedded in national as well as local social institutions and cultural perceptions. Individuals not only experience the direct effects of violence and power in their lives but also the more subtle cultural effects of violence and power that may permeate local social relations and social structures within communities (Poole ). The suffering produced by extreme poverty in rural Guatemala, for example, resulted not only in excessive and often preventable morbidity and mortality, hunger, and disease but also in the destruction of cultural institutions.

Others hid in the mountains nearby. The army used force to relocate those who remained behind to towns or makeshift camps where they could be more easily controlled. As has become commonplace in counterinsurgency warfare throughout the world in the latter half of this century, in Guatemala unarmed civilians were configured as the enemy and treated as such. Jean Franco () notes that attacks on civilian populations as part of counterinsurgency deployment also represent a war over meaning. ” The spatial and symbolic boundaries of home, church, and family that offer some immunity from violence are ruptured through acts of state terror, their meaning resignified insofar as they no longer offer protection from repression.

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