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'Guatemala' Review Flawed

March 13, 1988

Victor Perera's otherwise enjoyable review of Jean-Marie Simon's "Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny" (Book Reveiw, Feb. 21) is flawed by a troubling assertion and a stark omission.

The troubling assertion was Perera's claim that "We don't hear the voices of the guerrilla commandantes who made the fateful decision to involve the peasant populations in their war and who brought down on their heads the full weight of the army's retaliation." Is Perera blaming those who are fighting the repression Simon's book describes for the murder of peasants by the Guatemalan army? And if so, would Perera blame the Hungarian freedom fighters of 1956 for the invasion of the Soviet army? Would he blame the Afghan freedom fighters for the murder of Afghan peasants by the Soviets in 1988? It is unconscionable to blame those resisting oppression for the murder of civilians by repressive governments, either in the East or West blocs.

The stark omission concerns Perera's failure to note that the ascendancy of the Guatemalan military during the last 30 years is the direct result of the well-documented U.S.-orchestrated coup in 1954 against the elected government of Jacopo Arbenz. In this sense, the continuing suffering of the Guatemalan people is the direct result of U.S. policy. Candor demands that discussions of the Guatemalan situation acknowledge that fact.

WILLIAM EARL WEEKS

LEUCADIA, CALIF.

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