The child, the future of nations, must be tended to with all the elements necessary
to the production of civilization, progress and social perfection.
—Ramón Rosa, Primer Congreso Pedagógico Centro Americano 1893
The military raped them [women]. It didn’t even respect the right to live of those
not yet born. The Army [soldiers] grabbed pregnant women, they cut them, they
opened their stomachs, they took out their babies. They also murdered the newly
born, they took babies from their mothers’ breasts and one- year- olds and threw
them into the river and they drowned. One of the soldiers who threw a child into
the river called out, “Adiós, niño.”
—Massacre at Río Pixcayá, Aldea Estancia de la Virgen, San Martín Jilotepeque,
March 18, 1982, Caso Ilustrativo numero 50, Memoria del Silencio
When the woman entered the small apartment [in Guatemala City’s Zone 3] that
she shared with her nephew [a member of the gang Mara Salvatrucha], she saw a
blurred rush of movement and heard her nephew yell, “Get out of here!” She stood
for an instant, shocked to realize that her nephew and several boys hovered over
two girls whom they had tightly tied up. The woman turned and ran for help. A few
hours later, the dead bodies of these two girls, marked by rape, were found in the
street a few blocks away.
—Personal communication, Guatemala City, November 2003
n the 1800s and most of the 1900s, first the Guatemalan Liberal Party and
reformists and revolutionaries envisioned “La Juventud” (Youth) to be
in the vanguard of a modernity that would arise from within a city conceived
as a beacon in a rural and savage wilderness.1 Following the defeat of the
popular and revolutionary organizations and years of neoliberal policies, by
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