This prize-winning 1984 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble, described the Guatemalan government’s atrocities in 1982 and 1983 against the rebellious poor peasants and native Mayan Indian people. The documentary and its outtakes are being used as evidence against General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, the military dictator of Guatemala at that time. Aside from that, the documentary is well worth watching in itself. It throws a lot of light on what is going on in Guatemala and the rest of Latin America today—for example, why so many Guatemalans and other central Americans have made their way through Mexico and entered the United States illegally to find work.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole documentary, you might just watch one of the two segments below, the first dealing with the military struggle in Guatemala and the second with the religious struggle.
I don’t claim that all the problems of Latin American society are due to the United States, nor that the Latin American left has all the answers. I do say that the people of Latin America have the right to work out their problems without outside interference, and that they would be much better off if the U.S. government had allowed them to do so.
Click on Granito: How to Nail a Dictator for a report on how the When the Mountains Tremble documentary was used to bring General Rios Montt to justice.
When the Mountains Tremble showcases the testimony of Rigoberta Menchu, a poor Guatemalan Mayan Indian woman who says her story is the story of Guatemala. Click on Rigoberta Menchu wiki for her Wikipedia biography.
Click on Network in Solidarity With the People of Guatemala for background on Guatemala today.
[Update 5/11/13] Rios Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison after being convicted of genocide.
Click on Eighty Years in Prison for Guatemalan Ex-Dictator for details.
Click on Ronald Reagan: Rios Montt was “totally dedicated to democracy” for background.