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News Link • Police State

Coup du Jour: The Militarization of Daily Life

My inquiry had been provoked by the abundance of armed soldiers being ferried through the streets of Guatemala City. My friend, a native Guatemalteco, shook his head, a puzzled frown creasing his features.

"Then why are there so many troops on the streets?" I persisted, directing his attention to the grim-faced, uniformed figures visible beyond the windows of our "Chicken Bus." It was
Monday morning, August 8, 1983, and the two of us were taking a break from our missionary labors to shop for necessities downtown. The concentration of military personnel – and the visible agitation of my native-born friend -- increased as we approached the City Center.

About an hour later, we were intercepted by another missionary while returning to the bus stop.

"The government was overthrown in a coup this morning," he informed us in a voice drawn taut with urgency. "We're supposed to go back to our apartments, lock the doors, and wait until we're told it's safe to come out."

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