Wars in the Backyard

The National Security Archive has just declassified eleven documents on the extra judicial arrests conducted 25 years ago by the government of Guatemala. It appears that the US embassy clearly knew that the security forces were involved in the kidnappings. In a Department of State secret report, dated March 1986, we can read:

While criminal activity accounts for a small percentage of the cases, and from time to time individuals “disappear” to go elsewhere, the security forces and rightist paramilitary groups are responsible for most kidnapping. Insurgent groups do not normally use kidnapping as a political tactic, although they did resort to kidnapping for ransom in their formative years.
First used systematically by security forces against Communist Party and members of the moderate left beginning in 1966, the practice of kidnapping became institutionalized over time. Some 6500 persons have been kidnapping or disappeared since 1977, far short of the 38,000 claimed by critics of the previous Guatemalan governments. The average number of monthly kidnapping peaked in 1984 under regime of General Mejia. At first security forces utilized kidnappings to intimidate the left and convince potential guerrilla supporters to remain neutral. Kidnapping of rural social workers, medical personnel, and campesinos became common between 1979-83. Often innocent victims were accused of being insurgents by military commissioners, other village leaders or an individual’s personal enemies or business competitors. (…) In the cities, out of frustration from the judiciary’s unwillingness to convict and sentence insurgents, and convinced that kidnapping of suspected insurgents and their relatives would lead to a quick destruction of the guerrilla urban networks, the security forces began to systematically kidnap anyone suspected of insurgent connections. This tactic was successful. Most of the insurgent infrastructure in Guatemala City was eliminated by 1984.

The Guatemalan Civil War ended formally in 1996. But violence did not. According to national newspaper Siglo XXI, in the last fourteen months, an average of 17.6 persons have been killed every day. How many during the 36 years of civil war? 15.2.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


Twitter: frbailo



RSS r-bloggers.com

  • Brimming With Possibilities: Query zqd & Mine Logs with zq from R
    Brim Security maintains a free, Electron-based desktop GUI for exploration of PCAPs and select cybersecurity logs: along with a broad ecosystem of tools which can be used independently of the GUI. The standalone or embedded zqd server, as well as the zq command line utility let analysts run ZQL (a ... The post Brimming With […]
  • Exploring Wednesday Night Cable Ratings with OCR
    One of my guilty pleasure TV shows is MTV’s The Challenge. Debuting in the late 90s, the show pitted alumni from The Real World and Road Rules against each other in a series of physical events. Now on its 36th season, its found new popularity by importing challengers from ... The post Exploring Wednesday Night […]
  • After the creation of ADAM: smooth v3.1.0
    Since the previous post on “The Creation of ADAM“, I had difficulties finding time to code anything, but I still managed to fix some bugs, implement a couple of features and make changes, important enough to call the next version of package smooth “3.1.0”. Here is what’s new: A new ... The post After the […]
  • Optimisation of a Cox proportional hazard model using Optimx()
    In this blog post we will optimise a Cox proportional hazard model using a maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) method. For this we are first going to define the likelihood function of our Cox model and its partial first derivatives, sometimes called ... The post Optimisation of a Cox proportional hazard model using Optimx() first appeared […]
  • reghdfe and R: The Joys of Standard Error Correction
    I am an applied economist and economists love Stata. Every time I work with somebody who uses Stata on panel models with fixed effects and clustered standard errors I am mildly confused by Stata’s ‘reghdfe’ function producing standard errors that... The post reghdfe and R: The Joys of Standard Error Correction first appeared on R-bloggers.

RSS Simply Statistics

  • The Four Jobs of the Data Scientist
    In 2019 I wrote a post about The Tentpoles of Data Science that tried to distill the key skills of the data scientist. In the post I wrote: When I ask myself the question “What is data science?” I tend to think of the following five components. Data science is (1) the application of design […]
  • Palantir Shows Its Cards
    File this under long-term followup, but just about four years ago I wrote about Palantir, the previously secretive but now soon to be public data science company, and how its valuation was a commentary on the value of data science more generally. Well, just recently Palantir filed to go public and therefore submitted a registration […]
  • Asymptotics of Reproducibility
    Every once in a while, I see a tweet or post that asks whether one should use tool X or software Y in order to “make their data analysis reproducible”. I think this is a reasonable question because, in part, there are so many good tools out there! This is undeniably a good thing and […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Here is how you should title the next book you write.
    I was talking with someone about book titles. I liked the title Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State when I came up with it, but the book did not sell as well as I hoped (not that I thought it would sell enough to make me lots of money; I’m just using sales […]
  • “I looked for questions on the polio vaccine and saw one in 1954 that asked if you wanted to get it—60% said yes and 31% no.”
    Apparently there are surveys all over the world saying that large minorities of people don’t want to take the coronavirus vaccine. If it was just the U.S. we could explain this as partisanship, but it’s happening in other countries too. This seems like a new thing, no? When there was talk of the anti-vax movement […]
  • Meg Wolitzer and George V. Higgins
    Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a Meg Wolitzer fan (see here and here). During the past year or so I’ve been working my way through her earlier books, and I just finished Surrender, Dorothy, which was a quick and fun and thought-provoking read, maybe not quite as polished as some of […]