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Paradise in Ashes:
The impact of civil war on one Guatemalan village

Beatriz Manz, Professor of Geography & Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
(Discussion moderated by Jean Jackson, Professor of Anthropology, MIT)

7 pm, Tuesday, March 16, 2004 in MIT Room 66-110

Paradise in Ashes

Beatriz Manz has written a moving chronicle of Guatemalan villagers who have endured unspeakable injustice, yet remarkably look to the future with hope. This splendid book is a beautifully written human story that is framed by the passions and devastating consequences of the Cold War. The narrative is a testament to the power of public anthropology and a must-read for those concerned about the marginalized of the south.

— Isabel Allende

The violent overthrow of democracy in Guatemala in 1954 by the army, with CIA backing, spelled the end of FDR's "good neighbor" policy. In its stead, Cold War ideology transformed Guatemala into one vast death camp. No wonder President Clinton apologized to the victims of that genocide. Beatriz Manz, as both an anthropologist and a human being, gives us a precise account of the high price of a political mistake.

— Carlos Fuentes

Co-sponsors: the MIT Anthropology Program & the Program on Human Rights and Justice.

 More information 

  • An overview of the history of human rights in Guatemala, provided by Trudy and Andrew Miller.

  • Guatemala: Memoria del Silencio, the final report of the Guatemalan Historical Clarification Commission (1999), which condemns the United States government for aiding a "criminal counterinsurgency" against the indigenous Mayan population. (A revised version in Spanish is also available.)

  • US human-rights attorney Jennifer Harbury sued the US government for misleading her about its knowledge of human-rights abuses in Guatemala. In June, 2002, the US Supreme Court decided against her.

  • The Guatemala Accompaniment Project, organized by the Network in Support with the People of Guatemala, places U.S. volunteers who are willing "to live side-by-side with at-risk communities and organizations in an effort to deter human rights violations."