chapter  1
8 Pages

The Rios Montt Regime

The complement to the "rifles" aspect of the strategy was the initiation of a civic-action program designed to improve the level and quality of contact between the villagers and the military. In turn, it was the government reaction that prepared the ground for Indian-guerrilla cooperation. From this perspective, it is assumed that no natural ideological affinity exists between the peasant leaders and Marxist guerrillas; rather, the cement is a shared antipathy toward the regime. Rios Montt's strategy, according to these critics, marked an increase in the sophistication of the military but a change in means. Roman Catholic sources in Guatemala report that as many as one million Guatemalans were displaced or forcefully relocated in the first year of the program. The one certain result of the rifles-and-beans strategy, critics charged, was a dramatic increase in the level of violence in the countryside. Rios Montt responded to Guatemala's economic ailments with a program of severe austerity.