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Academic Questions

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 219–226 | Cite as

Genocide in Guatemala?

Pam Yates’s Resistance Saga trilogy, Skylight Pictures: When the Mountains Tremble (1983); Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011); 500 Years (2017).
  • David Stoll
REVIEW ESSAY

Latin America leads the world in jailing and prosecuting its presidents, often before the end of their terms. This energizes the opposition but demoralizes voters, who stop believing that the winner of the next election will be any different. Putting presidents on trial is how Skylight Pictures and its director, Pamela Yates, begin and end the latest of their three documentary films on human rights in Guatemala. The 2013 conviction of ex-president Efraín Ríos Montt, for genocide against the country’s Ixil Mayas thirty years before, opens 500 Years. The film ends with the 2015 resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina, who is still awaiting trial for corruption. Both are retired generals, in a country where army officers used to hold life-and-death power over their fellow citizens. I am among the many who never expected such a day to come.

Yates’s first film about Guatemala came out of freelancing for U.S. television networks at the height of army massacres in 1982, when Central...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Middlebury CollegeMiddleburyUSA

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