Another Mayan Voice Speaks from Guatemala
University of New Mexico Press, 9780826323552, 320pp.
Publication Date: August 14, 2001
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James Sexton met Ignacio Bizarro Ujpan in 1970, when Sexton traveled to Guatemala for the first time as a graduate student in anthropology. Ignacio became Sexton's research assistant and, as the men's friendship grew over the years of fieldwork that followed, Sexton asked Ignacio to keep a detailed journal. In his diaries, Bizarro chronicles more than a quarter century of the turbulent history of Guatemala, returning again and again to the themes of community solidarity, civil violence, alcohol abuse, resistance to repression, political turmoil, and the reinforcement of traditional and religious values that color daily life in the Maya communities of Guatemala's highlands.
Jose o: Another Mayan Voice Speaks from Guatemala covers the period from 1987-98 and is the fourth and latest volume of Ignacio's diary, the authentic life history of a common man, a campesino, a principal (elder) in his town, and a Tzutuhil Indian whose life has spanned the ongoing struggle for democracy and economic justice in Guatemala. His vivid and plain-spoken account of life among the Maya during the war between guerrillas and the army in the 1980s and 1990s offers detailed descriptions of the atrocities committed by both sides and brings the reader into a Mayan world richly textured with indigenous beliefs and practices. Ignacio's diary also records the Mayan cultural revitalization sweeping Guatemala, as well as the fortunes of the Indian peoples who have so often been pawns in the vicious power struggles between Left and Right.