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Guatemala: Bridge of Courage

Program #HARJ001. Recorded in Columbia, MD on January 29, 1994.

Guatemala is the largest and most populous of the Central American republics. It was the center of the great Mayan civilization. The country was conquered by Spain in 1524 and remained a colony for more than three centuries. A pivotal event in its modern history was the 1954 CIA- sponsored coup which overthrew its democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz. Since then, Guatemala has become a charnel house. It has endured a wave of tyranny and terror in which hundreds of thousands have been killed. The indigenous Mayans in particular have suffered. However, despite tremendous odds, popular-based organizations resist the military and the oligarchy. Note: Since this program was first uplinked in March much has happened to Jennifer Harbury. On October 11, she launched a fast to the death in front of the Defense Ministry in Guatemala City. Her non-violent protest attracted national and international media coverage; even People magazine devoted three pages to the story. Most significantly, 60 Minutes revealed that the CIA knew that Jennifer's husband, Everado, was alive at the time of his capture by the Guatemalan army. Shortly after the 60 Minutes report, the State Department confirmed that it knew all along that Everado was taken alive. With this official acknowledgment, Jennifer broke her fast on November 11. She returned to the U.S. and met with National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, who assured her the government was investigating the matter. She is now in Guatemala pursuing the case. In an unprecedented legal action, she is suing several high-ranking officers of the Guatemalan military. This program has been re-edited and updated to reflect recent developments.

Speaker(s):

Jennifer Harbury

Jennifer Harbury is an attorney from Texas. She has lived and worked with human rights activists, peasants and Mayan villagers in Guatemala. She worked with members of the U.S. Congress and the Organization of American States to locate her husband and 35 other members of the Guatemalan resistance believed to be held by the military. She is the author of Guatemala: Bridge of Courage.

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