King's College London
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Ploughing the sea: Latin America observed

Genocide and the struggle of the indigenous peoples

Cover of pamphlet depicting Guatemalan refugees in southern Mexico.Pamphlet cover from: Craig W Nelson and Kenneth I Taylor. Witness to genocide: the present situation of Indians in Guatemala. London: Survival International, 1983. Reproduced by kind permission of Survival International.This pamphlet published by Survival International is one of a number in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office collection documenting the historical and recent suffering perpetrated on indigenous peoples in large parts of Latin America.

In another pamphlet held in the library, Central American’s Indians, this treatment is summed up by Rodolfo Stavenhagen:

Extermination, enslavement, serfdom, oppression, pillage, exploitation, betrayal and expropriation by the representatives of the dominant society, whether colonial administration, national government, Church, land-owning class or transnational corporation. The few honourable exceptions simply prove the general rule.

The end of the 20th century saw no let-up in this genocide. In Guatemala a vicious civil war saw right-wing death squads massacre thousands, among them innocent Maya Indians.

In 1999, on a visit to Central America, President Bill Clinton apologised for his country's backing of the right-wing governments under which these death squads operated and the pamphlet shown here is concerned with the treatment of indigenous Indians in Guatemala.

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