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Posted by on Monday, January 13, 2014 in News, Uncategorized.

2.       Guatemalan Supreme Court to Investigate Mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán
3.       Guatemala journalist barred from leaving country in press freedom case
5.      NEW BOOK BY GSN’ER ANDREA ALTHOFF “Divided by Faith and Ethnicity: Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Race in Guatemala”


GSN Membership Dues: 2014 deadline is January 31, 2014. 
The GSN needs your dues. We have more than 400 folks on the list, and I get new addresses every day!!!! The GSN is thriving – we were able to host the conference in Antigua this summer – and thanks in part your renewed financial support.   We have a budget, great meetings at LASA and AAAs, an active steering committee and a great means of communication via Facebook, but we need your dues.
ALL DUES GO TO PROGRAMMING (conferences and meetings), the MAYA EDCUATIONAL FOUNDATION, and SUPPORT FOR GUATEMALANS TO TRAVEL to the US for conferences.  No member or office is getting paid or receiving anything for this effort. We have administration costs that the folks at Heifer Int'l would be jealous of.
GSN Dues:  Dues are $50 for non-students, $25 for students. 
Pay via Paypal:
Pay by check: make check out to Avery Dickins de Girón and mail to her at: PMB 351806; 2301 Vanderbilt Place; Nashville, TN 37235-1806. 
GSN NOW ACCEPTING Request for Travel Funds FOR LASA 2014
We are now accepting applications to support travel for scholars in Guatemala to Chicago to present at LASA 2014.  If you would like to request funding, please fill out the form (attached or on the GSN website: and email to Avery Dickins (  Travel funding requests are due by January 31; applicants will be notified of decisions by February 15.


2.       Guatemalan Supreme Court to Investigate Mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán
Dear GSNers:

The legal part of the battle against mining in San Miguel Ixtahuacán has just taken another interesting turn: after anti-mining activists filed criminal charges against the Mayor for imposing compulstory labor, the local justice of the peace sent the case to the Supreme Court of Justice.  Below are press releases in English and Spanish. Please feel free to circulate widely, if you have any press contacts whom you think might be interested, please send them to me off-list.


Lisa Maya Knauer
Guatemalan Supreme Court to Investigate Mayor
San Miguel Ixtahaucán, San Marcos, Guatemala:   
On Thursday, January 9, one day after community leaders filed a criminal complaint with a local justice of the peace against the Mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán for compelling residents of five Maya communities to perform forced labor, the tribunal decided to send the case to Guatemala’s Supreme Court of Justice.
One day earlier, on Wednesday, January 8, Maya leaders in the communities adjacent to Guatemala’s largest gold mine, the Marlin Mine, filed charges against their Mayor, Ovidio Joel Domingo Bámaca, for imposing compulsory labor.   “I would never have believed that in the year 2014, a municipal government would make Maya communities do forced labor.” said Francisco Bámaca, a 53-year old farmer, who was one of the complainants.
In 2010, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights decreed that the mine, operated by the Canadian transnational Goldcorp, posed a risk to the water supply and ordered the Guatemalan government and the municipality to ensure an adequate supply of uncontaminated water for drinking, domestic and agricultural use.  However, the local mayor forced local residents to provide not only free labor but also provide the construction materials out of communal resources, and cover fees to the owners of the properties where the water lines will be installed.
Carlos Loarca, legal advisor to the affected communities, notes: “Historically, the elites and the governments have argued that the progress of indigenous peoples depends upon their providing free labor for social projects.  Indigenous communities are obliged to work without any salary because it’s the only way they can get any benefit from the government, but the non-indigenous communities don’t do this work for free, so it’s clearly discriminatory.”
The Mayor’s actions, according to the complaint, are in clear violation of both international conventions and the Guatemalan constitution. “What we want,” says Gregoria Crisanta Pérez, a complainant, “is for Goldcorp to cover the labor costs and everything else needed o guarantee the water supply,” adding that single mothers, widows and the elderly cannot comply with the forced labor obligations.
For more information, contact Carlos Loarca at or

Corte Suprema de Justicia investigará al Alcalde Municipal donde opera la mina Marlin
San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos, Guatemala: El jueves 9 de enero, un día después de presentada una denuncia contra el Alcalde Municipal por imponer trabajos forzados a cinco comunidades mayas del municipio, el tribunal decidió enviar la denuncia a la Corte Suprema de Justicia para investigar la acusación contra dicho Alcalde.
El miércoles 8 de enero, lideres mayas de las comunidades adyacentes a la mina de oro más grande del país, la Mina Marlin, denunciaron en el tribunal comunitario de San Miguel al Alcalde Municipal, Ovidio Joel Domingo Bámaca, por obligar a trabajos forzosos a las comunidades. “Nunca hubiera creído que en pleno año 2014, un gobierno municipal obligara a comunidades mayas hacer trabajos forzosos,” declaró uno de los denunciantes Francisco Bámaca, agricultor de 53 años de edad.
El 20 de mayo de 2010, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos –CIDH-, decretó que la mina, operada por la transnacional canadiense Goldcorp, es un grave riesgo para el suministro de agua y ordenó al gobierno de Guatemala asegure el suministro de agua potable, uso doméstico y segura para el riego de cultivos, especialmente no contaminada por las operaciones mineras. No obstante, el Alcalde forzó a los vecinos a proveer mano de obra gratuita, materiales de construcción de sus recursos comunales, y pagar a los propietarios donde se construirá la infraestructura para suministrar el agua.
Carlos Loarca, asesor legal de las comunidades afectadas, declaró que, “Históricamente, las élites y los gobiernos han argumentado que el desarrollo para las comunidades mayas depende del aporte de la mano de obra gratuita para proyectos sociales.  Las comunidades mayas trabajan obligatoriamente sin salario porque es una forma de recibir algún beneficio del gobierno, pero las comunidades que no son mayas no trabajan gratuitamente, siendo un trato discriminatorio.”
Según la denuncia, el Alcalde está violando convenios internacionales y la constitución política de Guatemala. “Lo que queremos” declara otra de las denunciantes Gregoria Crisanta Pérez, “es que Goldcorp cubra los gastos de mano de obra, y todo lo demás para garantizar el suministro de agua” agregando que madres solteras, viudas y adultos mayores no pueden cumplir con los trabajos forzosos.
Para más información contacte a Carlos Loarca al correo-e


3.       Guatemala journalist barred from leaving country in press freedom case
AP. January 8, 2014

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan journalist has been barred from leaving the country so that he can potentially face criminal charges filed by the country's president.

Newspaper director Jose Ruben Zamora has published a series of articles critical of the government, including pieces that accused President Otto Perez Molina of corruption.

Perez Molina filed a series of criminal complaints against the director of the paper El Periodico in December, including charges of extortion and blackmail. El Periodico reported Wednesday that a judge had barred Zamora from travelling so that he could potentially face the charges filed by the president.

Vice-President Roxana Baldetti was granted a restraining order against Zamora last month. He is appealing that decision, as well as fighting Perez Molina's case against him.


Join GSN'er Greg Grandin as he discusses his new book, The Empire of Necessity, with Philip Gourevitch at the New York Public Library on Tuesday, January 21st, at 7pm, in the South Court Auditorium
Greg will also be talking about the book at the Upper West Side’s Barnes and Noble on Wednesday, January 15, on 82nd and Broadway, at 7pm.

  From the Renowned Author of Fordlandia Comes the Real Story Behind Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, Illuminating a New Account of Slavery in the Americas
The Empire of Necessity
Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
by Greg Grandin
Description: The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
“The Empire of Necessity is scholarship at its best. Greg Grandin’s deft penetration into the marrow of the slave industry is compelling, brilliant, and necessary.”
Greg Grandin is the author of the Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. As with Fordlandia, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books; on sale: January 14, 2014) uncovers a great piece of forgotten history, and, at the same time, explores a much larger American theme: the paradox of freedom and slavery.
One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren’t. Having earlier seized control of the vessel, the West Africans slaughtered nearly the entire crew and were now acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence.
This event has already inspired one masterpiece, Herman Melville’s half-forgotten Benito Cereno – one of the most haunting stories in American literature. Grandin reveals the true history behind the fiction, arguing that the most disturbing idea at the heart of Melville's story – and the real events that inspired it – is not slavery or the racism that would survive abolition but the truncated and distorted vision of freedom that developed in slavery’s shadow.
Drawing on research from never-before-consulted records and archives in eight countries, Grandin tells the gripping account of a dramatic, destructive collision among West African slaves, Old World traders, and New World America. Told against the sweeping backdrop of the American, Haitian, and French revolutions, the predatory industry of seal hunting, and the expansion of the American slave trade, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event. Grandin expertly sketches the happenings of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas, capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.
The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
by Greg Grandin
On Sale: January 14, 2014
Metropolitan Books / ISBN: 978-0-8050-9453-4 / $30.00 / 384 pages
Available as an eBook / ISBN: 978-1-4299-4317-8 / $14.99
For media inquiries, please contact:


Melanie Denardo
Deputy Director of Publicity
Henry Holt and Co./Metropolitan Books
Additional Praise for The Empire of Necessity
“In this multifaceted masterpiece, Greg Grandin excavates the relentlessly fascinating history of a slave revolt to mine the enduring dilemmas of politics and identity in a New World where the Age of Freedom was also the Age of Slavery. This is that rare book in which the drama of the action and the drama of ideas are equally measured, a work of history and of literary reflection that is as urgent as it is timely.”
—Philip Gourevitch, co-author of the The Ballad of Abu Ghraib
“Greg Grandin has done it again. Starting with a single dramatic encounter in the South Pacific he has shown us an entire world: of multiple continents, terrible bondage and the dream of freedom. This is also a story of how one episode changed the lives of a sea captain and a great writer from the other end of the earth. An extraordinary tale, beautifully told.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
“Rooted in an event known primarily through the genius of Herman Melville’s transcendent Benito Cereno, The Empire of Necessity is a stunning work of research done all over the rims of two oceans, as well as beautiful, withering storytelling. This is a harrowing story of Muslim Africans trekking across South America, and ultimately a unique window on to the nature of the slave trade, the maritime worlds of the early nineteenth century, the lives lived in-between slavery and freedom all over the Americas, and even the ocean-inspired imagination of Melville. Grandin is a master of grand history with new insights.”
—David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: A Life (forthcoming)

“Greg Grandin is one of the best of a new generation of historians who have rediscovered the art of writing for both serious scholars and general readers. This may be his best book yet. The Empire of Necessity is a work of astonishing power, eloquence and suspense—a genuine tour de force.”
—Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

5.      NEW BOOK BY GSN’ER ANDREA ALTHOFF “Divided by Faith and Ethnicity: Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Race in Guatemala”
Dear GSN-newsletter readers: I am happy to announce the publication of my first book Divided by Faith and Ethnicity: Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Race in Guatemala (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014). A book flyer is attached. Please feel free to circulate this information widely. Thank you! Andrea Althoff, Ph.D."

  Andrea Althoff
Divided by Faith and Ethnicity
In a unique approach, this book analyzes the spread of Pentecostal Christianity and the growth of indigenous revitalization movements. It explores the roles ethnicity and ethnic identities play in contemporary processes of religious pluralism. It is particularly relevant to those interested in the growth of the Protestant Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal movements, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and the indigenous Maya movement in Guatemala.
Andrea Althoff, German Society of European Academies, Germany.


The series Religion and Society (RS) contributes to the exploration of religions as social systems – both in Western and non-Western societies; in particular, it examines religions in their differentiation from, and intersection with, other cultural systems, such as art, economy, law and politics. Due attention is given to paradigmatic case or comparative studies that exhibit a clear theoretical orientation with the empirical and historical data of religion and such aspects of religion as ritual, the religious imagination, constructions of tradition, iconography, or media. In addition, the formation of religious communities, their construction of identity, and their relation to society and the wider public are key issues of this series.
Gustavo Benavides, Villanova University
Kocku von Stuckrad, University of Groningen
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Indiana University, Bloomington
We welcome proposals for the series! Please contact Dr. Alissa Jones Nelson, Acquisitions Editor for Religious Studies, in the first instance:


Dear Friends,
A few days ago, I started writing for an exciting new journalism platform named Beacon Reader. The idea is simple: Beacon empowers writers by letting you fund our work directly.
Here is my profile page!
For a $5/month subscription you'll get an new, exclusive story from me every few days — plus access to EVERY story by Beacon's worldwide team of accomplished freelance journalists, folks who report regularly for NYT, Time, the New Yorker, Harpers, Vice and more. There are no ads and this isn't a polished collective blog. It's serious, high-quality journalism. The majority of your subscription fee goes directly to me and the rest lets Beacon provide the infrastructure and network to distribute our stories. 
My two most recent pieces are about the origins and development of Guatemala's culture of corruption and poor business practices by American Airlines during the recent "polar vortex." I hope you enjoy them both! Overall, I will be writing about Guatemala's economy, the debilitating effects of corruption, and the ways people are fighting against poverty, corruption and violence in Latin America's poorest country.
My next post will most likely be about the health of Guatemala's "free press" and the necessity of ethical journalism for democracy.
Your subscription will help me continue to do the up-close and in-depth journalism on overlooked topics you've come to appreciate over the years. My focus on Beacon will be economic, social and business issues but do expect a wide range of commentary, analysis and exploration beyond this! I will also periodically post here with updates on my work for outside publications like McClatchy Newswire, the GlobalPost and Vice magazine.
While I continue to freelance for my usual outlets, I am hoping to dedicate more time for stories for Beacon. Please subscribe now to keep up to date on everything and help me continue my work! Of course, even if you aren't able to subscribe at this time, please forward this email and my information to anyone who might be interested.
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions. Thanks so much for your support!

Ben Reeves

Seven-week Ethnographic Field School at Lake Atitlán, Summer 2014
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
May 23 – July 14, 2014
Learn how to design, conduct, investigate and write-up your own independent project while living with a local family on the shores of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Throughout the seven and a half week program, you will learn about the Maya while developing skills in ethnographic fieldwork as you carry out your own research project.
Whether you are an undergraduate, a graduate student, just finished college, learning how to collect data and talk to people is beneficial not only for those in anthropology, but also for those in many other majors, including sociology, international studies, public health, history, education, textiles, natural resource management, business and management, sociolinguistics, political science, psychology, design and civil engineering.  Anyone interested is encouraged to apply, especially students interested in topics such as development, environment, globalization, social justice, tourism, conservation, language, development, poverty and health. Not sure how your interests may fit into the topics listed?  Contact the program Directors, Tim Wallace ( and Carla Pezzia (, to discuss potential opportunities for your areas of interest. Each student may choose any topic for his or her independent research project.  Service learning opportunities are also possible. This program is open to students from any course of study and university. The $3550 fee includes all expenses (except airfare- about $550), including room and board for 7.5 weeks and tuition for 6 credit hours. 
Visit the Guatemala Program website for more information and photos from previous years.  Apply through the NCSU Study Abroad Office,

Tim Wallace
Director, Ethnographic Fieldschool in Guatemala
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
220 1911 Building, CB 8107
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-8107


My name is Keane Bhatt, and I write for the North American Congress on Latin America. I am engaging in an effort to push for greater accountability from Human Rights Watch, and I would very much appreciate it if you could review the following petition that I have drafted to HRW's executive director Ken Roth and consider adding your name.
Also, if you have suggestions for others who would be worth approaching to ask for their participation in this public letter, I would greatly welcome your input. Perhaps sending it to other members of the Guatemala Scholars Network may be of interest. I have listed some of the signatories thus far at the bottom, which will be ordered alphabetically by last name once complete.
Many thanks in advance for your consideration,
Dear Kenneth Roth,
Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.” However, HRW's close ties to the U.S. government call into question its independence.
For example, HRW's Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeline Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.
In her biography, Board of Directors' Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as "a longtime friend to Bill Clinton" who is "highly involved" in his political party, and "has hosted dozens of events" for the Democratic National Committee.
Currently, HRW Americas' advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia; Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy; and Robert Pastor, a former National Security Advisor and consultant to presidential candidates. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas' advisory committee from 200311. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as "an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts."
In his capacity as an HRW director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that "under limited circumstances" there was "a legitimate place" for CIA renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet. Designing an alternative, he argued, was "going to take some time."
HRW has not extended similar consideration to Venezuela. In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country's candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen "far short of acceptable standards" and questioning its "ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights." At no point has U.S. membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington's secret, global assassination program and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.
Likewise, in February 2013, HRW correctly described as "unlawful" Syria's use of missiles in its civil war. However, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the U.S. threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.
The few examples above, limited to only recent history, might be forgiven as inconsistencies or oversights that could naturally occur in any large, busy organization. But HRW’s intimate relationships with the U.S. government suffuse such instances with the appearance of a conflict of interest.
We therefore encourage you to institute immediate, concrete measures to strongly assert HRW's independence. Closing what seems to be a revolving door would be a reasonable first step: Bar those who have crafted or executed U.S. foreign policy from serving as HRW staff, advisors or board members. At a bare minimum, mandate lengthy “cooling-off” periods before and after any associate moves between HRW and that arm of the government.
Your largest donor, investor George Soros, argued in 2010 that "to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization.” We concur. We urge you to implement the aforementioned proposal to ensure a reputation for genuine independence.
Sincerely, [to be alphabetized]
1.      Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University
2.      Edward Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance, University of Pennsylvania; co-author, The Political Economy of Human Rights
3.      Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center
4.      Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY Graduate Center
5.      Adrienne Pine, Professor of Anthropology, American University
6.      Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Pomona College
7.      George Ciccariello-Maher, Professor of Political Science, Drexel University
8.      Daniel Kovalik, Professor of International Human Rights, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
9.      Gregory Wilpert, Ph.D, author, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power
10.  Joseph Nevins, Professor of Geography, Vassar College
11.  Nazih Richani, Director of Latin American Studies, Kean University
12.  Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University
13.  William Blum, author, U.S. foreign policy analyst
14.  Jean Bricmont, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Louvain; author, Humanitarian Imperialism
15.  Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
16.  Jeb Sprague, author, Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti
17.  Leslie Sklair, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, London School of Economics
18.  William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
19.  Hilbourne Watson, Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Bucknell University
20.  David Peterson, independent writer and researcher
21.  Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
22.  Oliver Stone, filmmaker; co-author, The Untold History of the United States
23.  Chris Hedges, journalist; author, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
24.  Norman Solomon, author, War Made Easy
25.  Matthew Frye Jacobson, Professor of American Studies and History, Yale University
26.  Nikhil Pal Singh, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, New York University
27.  Alejandro Velasco, Professor of History, New York University
28.  Patrick Bond, Professor of Development Studies, Director of the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
29.  Sanjay Reddy, Professor of Economics, New School for Social Research
30.  J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies, Wesleyan University
31.  Simon Granovsky-Larsen, Professor of Latin American Studies, Centennial College, Toronto
32.  Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
33.  Kirsten Weld, Professor of History, Harvard University
34.  Gyan Prakash, Professor of History, Princeton University
35.  Chase Madar, civil rights attorney; author, The Passion of [Chelsea] Manning
36.  Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
37.  Steve Striffler, Professor of Anthropology, Chair of Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans
38.  Christian Parenti, Professor of Sustainable Development, School for International Training Graduate Institute
39.  Manu Goswami, Professor of History, New York University
40.  Ari Kelman, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
41.  Alfred W. McCoy, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
42.  Kevin Young, Ph.D., Latin American History, State University of New York-Stony Brook
43.  Forrest Hylton, Lecturer in History & Literature, Harvard University
44.  Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University; author, Damming the Flood
45.  Ian J. Seda-Irizarry, Professor of Political Economy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
46.  Angélica Bernal, Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
47.  Mara Fridell, Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba
48.  Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
49.  Mary Nolan, Professor of History, New York University
50.  Katherine Gordy, Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University
51.  Robert Chernomas, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
52.  David Camfield, Professor of Labour Studies, University of Manitoba
53.  Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, New York University
54.  Julie Guard, Professor of Labor Studies, University of Manitoba
55.  Lesley Gill, Professor of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University
56.  Piero Gleijeses, Professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Thomas A. Offit Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Baylor University
(254) 710-6226