Issue 9.2, May 1994

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Essay Excerpt

"Fear is response to danger, but in Guatemala, rather than being solely a subjective personal experience, it has also penetrated the social memory. And rather than an acute reaction it is a chronic condition. The effects of fear are pervasive and insidious in Guatemala. Fear destabilizes social relations by driving a wedge of distrust within families, between neighbors, among friends. Fear divides communities through suspicion and apprehension not only of strangers but of each other. Fear thrives on ambiguities. Denuciations, gossip, innuendos, and rumors of death lists create a climate of suspicion. No one can be sure who is who. the spectacle of tortue and death and of massacres and disappearances in the recent past have become more deeply inscribed in individual bodies and the collective imagination through a constant sense of threat. In the altiplano fear has become a way of life. Fear, the arbiter of power-- invisible, indeterminate, and silent."

"Fear as a Way of Life" by Linda Green