Not Our Day to Die: Testimony From the Guatemalan Jungle by Michael SullivanNot Our Day to Die: Testimony From the Guatemalan Jungle by Michael Sullivan

Not Our Day to Die: Testimony From the Guatemalan Jungle

byMichael Sullivan

Paperback | October 1, 2017

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It was work for Mike Sullivan-a flying job like the ones he'd done most of his life in many parts of the world-ferrying people, medicine, crops, supplies and almost anything else you can think of among the isolated jungle villages of Guatemala. Life in the farming co-ops there was simple, peaceful, and good, based on bedrocks of family, community, and faith.Then the repression began. A failed attempt at a coup had led to continued fighting between rebels and government, though in areas far from the almost-utopian Ixcan region. U.S. military and CIA intervention helped defeat the insurgency, but the social inequalities that had led to the movement remained, and the revolution went underground. The Guatemalan army, searching everywhere for those who opposed it, increased its control over the isolated jungle area. Co-op directors, teachers, catechists, and then anyone suspected of being one of or assisting the guerrillas was selectively "disappeared." The army turned to a scorched-earth policy, killing animals, burning crops, uprooting fruit trees, destroying towns, massacring their people. Throughout the Ixcan, those who survived fled. Some returned to their original mountain villages, others crossed the border into Mexico, and a third group survived for sixteen years hiding in the jungle-men, women, and children. Primeval growth took over the land as the war with the guerrilla movement raged on to encompass the entire nation.When finally peace accords were signed, the people of the Ixcan returned. Homes were rebuilt, land reclaimed, the area thrived again. But sixteen years were lost, along with countless lives. For Mike Sullivan, who had returned there when his help was needed, the story of those years-of how the people of the Ixcan survived, and of the many who didn't-was one that had to be told. In three visits, he conducted the interviews that form this book, talking with the villagers he'd known long before. At first, they spoke hesitantly, then with the flood force of vivid memory, telling of their first arrival at the Ixcan, the lives they'd made, and the years of the repression and worse. Their stories are gripping, fascinating, painful-but most of all, deeply human as we witness their struggle to survive and feel the force of the simple values that ultimately carried them through to a new and better life.
Title:Not Our Day to Die: Testimony From the Guatemalan JungleFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 1, 2017Publisher:Terra Nova BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1938288904

ISBN - 13:9781938288906

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Read from the Book

he 16th of March 1981 was when they [began]... The massacres were in all the co-operatives. They burned everything. In Mayalan, they burned the generator, my father's marimba. They destroyed everything. They didn't leave anything. And, after that, we decided it was better not to stay in the house, because the army bombarded the houses. If they saw a bit of corn, they would drop a bomb on it and burn the corn, burn everything. What we did was to take refuge in the parcela. We lived as refugees for six months. Until one day ... I don't know if from the helicopter they saw milpa, something, they landed. They cut down the milpa with machetes. We were campesinos. We ate corn and beans. That's what we lived on. We didn't have money. One couldn't continue living there. We were obliged to walk and walk. I walked a lot, as did my little brothers and sisters. My mother was seven months pregnant with my little sister Marga [Margarita]. When my mother gave birth to Marga, she was in shock, She had lost her stability as a woman. It fell upon me for eight months, more, nearly one year, to be father and mother to my five brothers and sisters. I was only twelve years old. Anita was only six. Luciano, the boy who is also here [in Santa Elena], was sick. He couldn't walk. I had to help everyone. I got up at three in the morning. I had to look for roots of papaya, find a bit of corn, grind it, and make tortillas. And when there was nothing to eat, I went into the jungle. I looked for bananas, fruits, chicos. There was a red fruit, nice and sweet and spongy. I picked the fruit and let it ripen for when they were hungry. At times, I gave them just one thing to eat. Other times there was something else to add to the little corn we had. Sometimes I only cooked yucca, or we cooked sweet potatoes to add to the food. My mother couldn't even help me cook or help in the field. Because of that, we suffered much more than others. They had fathers and mothers, and they could move around. If they came to a place where there was corn, they stayed there. But we had to stay in one place because my mother was so weak and we were all so small. When Marga cried, we put a rag in her mouth so she wouldn't [be heard]. We'd also put a rag in Luciano's mouth. Later, I got the idea of putting the children in a hole and covering it with some wood so the army wouldn't hear them. When they stopped crying, I took them out.