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New Left Review I/182, July-August 1990

Lynne Jones

Murder in Guatemala

This is a murder story. P.D. James once commented that the satisfaction of murder stories comes not only from the intellectual exercise but from the value given to individual human life, even after death: the dead person matters, justice is seen to be done. My story is set in Guatemala however. There is no mystery, no satisfying resolution, and what it demonstrates is just how cheaply life is valued in this particular civilian democracy. [*] This article is based on research and interviews conducted in Guatemala in March and April 1990 under the auspices of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It also draws on information from the following sources: Americas Watch Reports: ‘Human Rights in Guatemala in President Cerezo’s First Year’, 1987; ‘Closing the Space, Human Rights in Guatemala, May 1987–October 1988’, 1988; ‘Messengers of Death, Human Rights in Guatemala, November 1988–February 1990’, 1990; ‘The Runujel Junam Council of Ethnic Communities’, 1989. W. George Lovell, ‘An Instinct to Survive’, The Whig Standard Magazine, January 1986. Central America Reports, Infopress Centroamericana.

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