“improvement committees”

“Training by army technicians and specialists gave the former military commissioners and civil patrol leaders the basic skills required to apply for and implement development projects, which they in turn used to present themselves to NGOs and foreign funders as representatives of their communities – including speaking for those community members who were victims of their own violent rule. Under the name “improvement committees” , which were accredited by the departmental government, they legitimated their leadership and thus their ability to administer development projects. For example, we see the direct intervention of the meros jefes in San Bartolo’s UNICEF-financed Municipal Plan for Social Development, 1994-2000, whose first appendix lists the names of the ninety-one people involved in articulating the municipality’s needs and establishing its future priorities. One hundred percent are men. Thirty-three represent security forces, including twenty-two patrol leaders, nine police officers, and two army specialists….”

War By Other Means: Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala. Eds. Carlota MacAllister and Diane M. Nelson. Duke University Press. Durham and London. 2013.

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