Take a journey back in time and immerse yourself in a 150-year-old battle that nearly split our nation in two. This three-part series explores famous and little known aspects of the Civil War, from the perspectives of the Union, the Confederacy and the millions of enslaved people struggling for freedom. Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins, and Dennis Haysbert, all of whom had ancestors greatly affected by the war, this series delivers fresh insights and untold tales, brought to life through dramatic recreations and the Smithsonian Institution's vast collection of artifacts.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Civil War 360 - Guatemalan Civil War - Netflix
The Guatemalan Civil War ran from 1960 to 1996. It was fought between the government of Guatemala and various leftist rebel groups supported chiefly by ethnic Maya indigenous people and Ladino peasants, who together make up the rural poor. The government forces of Guatemala have been condemned for committing genocide against the Maya population of Guatemala during the civil war and for widespread human rights violations against civilians. Democratic elections during the Guatemalan Revolution in 1944 and 1951 had brought popular leftist governments to power, but a United States-backed coup d'état in 1954 installed the military regime of Carlos Castillo Armas, who was followed by a series of conservative military dictators. In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio became the first of a series of military dictators representing the Institutional Democratic Party or PID. The PID dominated Guatemalan politics for twelve years through electoral frauds favoring two of Col. Carlos Arana's proteges (Gen. Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garcia in 1974 and Gen. Romeo Lucas Garcia in 1978). The PID lost its grip on Guatemalan politics when General Efraín Ríos Montt, together with a group of junior army officers, seized power in a military coup on 23 March 1982. In the 1970s continuing social discontent gave rise to an insurgency among the large populations of indigenous people and peasants, who traditionally bore the brunt of unequal land tenure. During the 1980s, the Guatemalan military assumed almost absolute government power for five years; it had successfully infiltrated and eliminated enemies in every socio-political institution of the nation, including the political, social, and intellectual classes. In the final stage of the civil war, the military developed a parallel, semi-visible, low profile but high-effect, control of Guatemala's national life. As well as fighting between government forces and rebel groups, the conflict included, much more significantly, a large-scale, coordinated campaign of one-sided violence by the Guatemalan state against the civilian population from the mid-1960s onward. The military intelligence services (G2 or S2) and an affiliated intelligence organization known as La Regional or Archivo – headquartered in an annex of the presidential palace – were responsible for coordinating killings and “disappearances” of opponents of the state and suspected insurgents and those deemed by the intelligence services to be collaborators. The Guatemalan state was the first in Latin America to engage in widespread use of forced disappearances against its opposition with the number of disappeared estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 from 1966 until the end of the war. In rural areas where the insurgency maintained its strongholds, the repression amounted to wholesale slaughter of the peasantry and massacres of entire villages; first in the departments of Izabal and Zacapa (1966–68) and later in the predominantly Mayan western highlands from 1978 onward. In the early 1980s, the killings are considered to have taken on the scale of genocide. In total, it is estimated that 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the conflict. Most human rights abuses were at the hands of the military, police and intelligence services. Victims of the repression included indigenous activists, suspected government opponents, returning refugees, critical academics, students, left-leaning politicians, trade unionists, religious workers, journalists, and street children. The “Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico” has estimated that 93% of human right abuses in the conflict have been committed by government forces and 3% by the guerrillas. In 2009, Guatemalan courts sentenced Felipe Cusanero as the first person convicted of the crime of ordering forced disappearances. This was followed by the 2013 genocide trial of former president Efraín Ríos Montt for the killing and disappearances of more than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Maya during his 1982–83 rule; the accusations of genocide derived from the “Memoria del Silencio” report – written by the UN-appointed Commission for Historical Clarification- which considered that genocide could have occurred in Quiché between 1981 and 1983, although it did not take into consideration potential economic interests in the Ixcán region – situated in Franja Transversal del Norte- given the oil fields that were discovered in that area in 1975. The first former head of state to be tried for genocide by his own country's judicial system, Montt was found guilty the day following the conclusion of his trial and was sentenced to 80 years in prison; a few days later, however, the sentence was reversed by the country's high court and the trial was scheduled to start again because of alleged judicial anomalies. The trial began again on 23 July 2015 but did not reach a verdict before the Montt's death on 1 April 2018.
Civil War 360 - Background - Netflix
After the 1871 revolution, the Liberal government of Justo Rufino Barrios escalated coffee production in Guatemala, which required much land and many workers. To find the people needed for the work, Barrios established the Settler Rule Book, which forced the native population to work for low wages for the landowners, who were Criollos and later German settlers. Barrios also confiscated the common native land, which had been protected during the Spanish Colony and during the Conservative government of Rafael Carrera, and distributed to his Liberal friends, who became important landowners. In the 1890s, the United States began to implement the Monroe Doctrine, pushing out European colonial powers and establishing U.S. hegemony over resources and labor in Latin American nations. The dictators that ruled Guatemala during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were very accommodating to U.S. business and political interests. Unlike other Latin American nations, such as Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba, the U.S. did not have to use overt military force to maintain dominance in Guatemala. The Guatemalan military/police worked closely with the U.S. military and State Department to secure U.S. interests. The Guatemalan government exempted several U.S. corporations from paying taxes, especially the United Fruit Company. It also privatized and sold off publicly owned utilities, and gave away huge swaths of public land.
Civil War 360 - References - Netflix