Guatemala Giving Democracy A Chance

While the generals watch, a civilian President moves gingerly

Even by the brutal standards of Central American politics, Guatemala's reputation for murderous repression is chilling. Since a U.S.-backed coup in 1954, more than 100,000 civilians have been slaughtered by right-wing death squads and left-wing guerrillas, or have disappeared. As many as 250,000 people are believed to have fled the country, some 40,000 of them to neighboring Mexico. Thus, when Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado last week praised Guatemala's democratic principles during his first state visit to that country, he was acknowledging an important change in the land that was once the jewel of the Mayan empire.

Much of...

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