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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 64 / 153

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A civil war, which was to last for 36 years, developed in 1960.

Guatemala was plagued by violence, attributed both to left-wing insurgencies in rural areas and to armed forces' counterinsurgency operations.

Led by youthful middle-class rebels, guerrillas gained strength because of several factors: the radical beliefs of some Roman Catholic priests in rural areas (liberation theology); the ability of the guerrillas to mobilize Indians for the first time; and the "demonstration effect" of events elsewhere in Central America.

Radical clergy increased the recruitment of Indians into the

guerrilla forces by suggesting that revolution was an acceptable path to social justice.

According to the Latin American Regional Report for Mexico and Central America, government massacres of guerrillas and their actual or suspected supporters were frequent and "characterized by clinical savagery."

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