Cultural

A History of Political Murder in Latin America: Killing the by W. John Green

By W. John Green

This expansive historical past depicts Latin the US s pan-regional tradition of political homicide. not like typi

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Extra resources for A History of Political Murder in Latin America: Killing the Messengers of Change

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The political culture of murder that drives the phenomenon (that is, the package of assumptions, attitudes, and practices of deadly force generated by the widespread elite reactionary antagonism toward any change that could reduce their degree of political and economic control) offers a useful window for viewing the general political cultures of Latin America in the twentieth century. The murderous elites that partake of this cultural paradigm are united around the region and across time by their agreement that political murder, used in conjunction with more conventional methods of hegemonic control, is an indispensable and effective tool of power.

In Sparta, the necessary route to full citizenship and membership in the hoplite battle line was a period spent living off the land and murdering individuals among the subject population of Helots, a practice meant to maintain Spartan domination. And one should also mention the murders of the Gracchi, Tiberius Sempronius, and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, “Tribunes of the People” in the late Roman Republic. 37 A final important issue that should be mentioned at the outset concerns the relationship of guerrilla war to political murder in Latin America.

Kennedyesque mysteries about “who” killed someone in Latin America are relatively rare (the case of Gaitán is one of the few) because for such murders to have political value perpetrators generally prefer for it to be widely “known” who was behind them, to discourage other such messengers of change. Obscurity can also be effective, but aficionados of political murder generally assume that “dark forces of reaction” are in play and rarely accept “single shooter” or “random act” theories. Indeed, running for president in Colombia can be particularly dangerous.

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