On February 13, 1982, the Guatemalan army stormed into the remote northern Guatemalan village of Santa Maria Tzeja. The villagers had already fled in terror, but over the next six days seventeen of them, mostly women and children, were caught and massacred, animals were slaughtered, and the entire village was burned to the ground. Twelve years later, utilizing terms of refugee agreements reached in 1982, villagers from Santa Maria who had fled to Mexico returned to their homes and lands to re-create their community with those who had stayed in Guatemala. Return of Guatemala's Refugees tells the story of that process. In this moving and provocative book, Clark Taylor describes the experiences of the survivors -- both those who stayed behind in conditions of savage repression and those who fled to Mexico where they learned to organize and defend their rights. Their struggle to rebuild is set in the wider drama of efforts by grassroots groups to pressure the government, economic elites, and army to fulfill peace accords signed in December of 1996. Focusing on the village of Santa Maria Tzeja, Taylor defines the challenges that faced returning refugees and their community. How did the opposing subcultures of fear (generated among those who stayed in Guatemala) and of education and human rights (experienced by those who took refuge in Mexico) coexist? Would the flood of international money sent to settle the refugees and fulfill the peace accords serve to promote participatory development or new forms of social control? How did survivors expand the space for democracy firmly grounded in human rights? How did they get beyond the grief and trauma that remained from the terror of the early eighties? Finally, the ultimate challenge, how did they work within conditions of extreme poverty to create a grassroots democracy in a militarized society?
Clark Taylor is Associate Professor of Latin American Studies in the College of Public and Community Service, University of Massachusetts at Boston. He is also chair of the board of the National Coordinating Office on Refugees, Returnees and Displaced of Guatemala (NCOORD), and was a founding member of Witness for Peace's Guatemala Committee. With his wife, he has been co-leader of a partnership between his local church and the village of Santa Maria Tzeja for the past ten years.
CONTENTS Preface Introduction 1 Torn by Terror 2 Reweaving the Pieces: Culture of Fear/Culture of Learning 3 The Contextual Loom: The Peace Accords, Civil Society, and the Powerful 4 Clash of Patterns: From Mexico and Guatemala A PICTORIAL 5 Resources for Reweaving: The Perils of Development 6 Human Rights: The Color of Life 7 The Gray of Frozen Grief: Resolving the Trauma of Memory 8 Tearing Still? The Army in Peacetime 9 Weaving the Future: What Needs to Be Done and How to Get Involved Appendixes 1. U.S. Groups Providing Resources on Guatemala and Support for the Peace Process 2. Chronology of Guatemalan History 3. Chronology of the Guatemalan Peace Process Acronyms Notes Bibliography Index