Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 1 | Spring 1985

the food that goes to feed the refugees comes from forays into guerilla-controlled land. Only the day before we arrived did the first shipment of food appear from the Committee of National Reconstruction (CRN)—six months after Salquil was established. The few supplies that make it come overland on the backs of Indians from Tzalbal. The army offers no airlift assistance. The walk is by no means an easy one. Starvation in this community cameras away. A soldier approached us shortly thereafter. He spoke deliberately, telling us that photographs of the de- stacamento were strictly forbidden. Was it his job to tell us this? We heard no such request or command from the officers. We weren’t going to make an issue of it. An uneasiness overcame us. Perhaps we were overextending our welcome. If we stayed in Salquil, there was nothing left for us to do except take part in an army VINTAGE AND NEW MATERIALS FOR THE RESTORATION AND REPAIR OF YOUR OLD HOUSE OR BUILDING. * LIGHTING * HARDWARE * PLUMBING » MILLWORK SPECIALIZING IN: REJUVENATION HOUSE PARTS™ TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY LIGHTING HOURS: MON THROUGH SAT 9-5:30 901 N. SKIDMORE Q PORTLAND, OR 97217 v J 7 503-249-0774 h__________ _ ___:_____ r 1 ALTERHATIVE FAMILY HEALTH CARE WHAT HAD ONCE BEEN FERTILE AND PRODUCTIVE AGRICULTURAL COUNTRYSIDE HAS NOW BECOME A WASTELAND. IT IS THE WAR ZONE, WHERE CIVILIZATION ENDS AND COUNTER-INSURGENCY BEGINS. Back Pain, Headaches ; nutritional Counseling OB-Gyn, Homebirths & More has little in common with the sort of famine in Ethiopia. Although entirely possible, full-scale land cultivation runs contrary to practical counter-insurgency policy in the Guatemalan highlands. The army keeps arable farmland unplanted for two reasons. If the land is barren there is no food or shelter for the guerrillas. Secondly, the army uses hunger as a control mechanism over the rural population. The scorched-earth policy is not just a brutal act of retribution exacted on the civilian population to even the score for numerous army deaths. As one military commander told us, the Guatemalan Army is winning a “war of hunger.” We spoke with an old man who had recently come out of the mountains with the civil patrol. “Over there,” he said, “behind that mountain, we were refugees over there. Yeah, perhaps for 8 months. Every time the soldiers would come, they would frighten us. And then we'd have to flee into the mountains. The patrols would come from Nebaj first, and that’s how we would come in with them. We came in with the civil patrol. We were afraid to come in with soldiers, because everyone says the soldiers kill.... And then they came, and they burned everything. The houses, the corn—the soldiers burned everything since there were no owners.” The effects of counter-insurgency are most severe on people living in an area like Salquil. There are no roads linking them with the outside world, and they are living in actively-contested territory. Besides widespread malnutrition, there are many medical needs not being met. Although there is an army nurse dispensing limited medications for diarrhea and dysentary, there are no antibiotics to fight serious infections among many children and adults. Most of the many shelves in the village infirmary were empty. By late afternoon the fog had completely overtaken the hilltop. It brought with it a wet, chilly mountain air. Everybody had a fire going. We listened to a roomful of Indians singing their evening Catholic service. Then walking back to the garrison above, we met the captain. He was leaving immediately for Nebaj patrol. That was an unnecessary risk we chose not to pursue. We decided to leave that morning. An army platoon would escort us back to Tzalbal. The return trip passed quickly. We made it back to the road by noon. Army engineers advanced with D8 earth-movers and heavyweight Caterpillars. An army combat escort filled out the construction convoy with massive tandem-axle troop transports to back up the road crew. The platoon commander read our minds instantly. Could we hitch a ride with one of the convoy trucks back to Tzalbal? “No,” he said. It was much safer to walk, he thought. His thoughts proved prophetic. Two weeks later, the Engineer Brigade lost seventeen soldiers in a guerrilla attack on that road. Salquil is a model village in formation. It is also a classic counter-insurgency success. The guerrillas and their support base were devastated by a brutally effective scorched-earth policy during the Lucas Garcia and Rios Montt regimes. Then the army sought to nucleate the surviving population in strategic hamlets that could be further expanded into model villages. We spoke with the senior army commander of Quiche province. For him, it is a lamentable fact that for centuries the Ixil Indians had been virtually abandoned by the rest of Guatemalan society and its government. This, he claimed, is why the guerrillas were able to persuade the people to join them. Now that the civilian population has been wrested from the guerrillas, he feels that the Ixil Indians are finally embarking on a new development phase. This Guatemalan commander is not alone in viewing the matter from an urban perspective. Indeed the army program is almost identical with the policies of reduction and congregation used to forcibly nucleate the indigenous people here after the Spanish Conquest nearly 450 years ago. The reasons for doing this now are the same as they were then. Apart from the obvious military advantages, the aim of the model village program is to urI । Dr. Linda Uma 5cott, Chiropractic Physician 2625 5.E. Hawthorne • Portland, OR • 238-9788 ** ------------“--- "WE'VE GOT TO TAKE THE POPULATION AWAY FROM THEM, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE ARE THE ONES WHO FEED THEM AND ALL THAT, THESE PEOPLE ARE FOOLISH. THEY'RE ALWAYS WITH THE GUERRILLAS." with a patrol. We continued on to his hut to have dinner with his lieutenants. The captain’s table was quite complete. There was salt, chilis, instant milk, sugar, hot sauce, coffee. The cook fixed us a meal of white rice with chilis, black beans, scrambled eggs with onions, stacks of fresh tortillas, avocados, dried pork rinds, orange Tang and coffee. We slept at the garrison that night in a tiny hut near the perimeter. The second lieutenant reminded us that if we needed to leave our hut during the night to pee, weTiad better let it be known very loudly—or we’d probably be shot. Morning broke. We waited for the sun to rise before leaving the hut. We had the opportunity to walk the destacamento grounds unattended. There were few soldiers around. There was an edginess in the air that day. Maybe it was our own faltering sense of security that struck us, but we felt markedly less comfortable with the captain gone. We hastily took several photographs and decided to put our banize the Indians, to “civilize” them, to bring them into the fold of a larger national system. In the context of counter-insurgency, ■ the model village program is seen as a temporary solution to the problem of Indians living in dispersed settlement—as they have done for the last 1500 years. Whether this policy is temporary or permanent, the Guatemalan Army can never hope to win the hearts and minds of the Ixil Indians by obliterating their race or incinerating their countryside. A senior .army spokesman told us that the model village program is designed to prevent the rural population from “living in the mouth of the wolf” and to “provide protection.” We can only ask—protection from whom? Or ask the army base commander in Nebaj. He will recall for you what the Americans did to their own Indians. Arun Nevader and Michael Richards of Berkeley, California visited both Guatemala and El Salvador last year. This is their first story in the CSQ. SERVING BREAKFAST, LUNCH, & SELECTED DINNER SPECIALS 7AM-3PM DAILY I 32 S.W. THIRD STREET • 222-3 187 SWATCH YOURSELF! In the new Swiss watch for active lifestyles. Lightweight. Shock resistant. Water resistant to 100 feet. Quartz precision. One-year guarantee. Forward styling. $25 to $40. ALAN COSTLEY 816 SW 10th 222-2577 Fine Leather Goods, Luggage and Men’s and Women’s Footwear. Clinton St. Quarterly 7