On Dec. 26, 2015 Graeme Decarie wrote a long post at his website; he also spoke of mass murder in Guatemala in the 1980s

You can access the post here:

Dec. 26:This is very long but,…..

Graeme Decarie: I’ve just finished a very long blog. But I like it because this one gets me away from the dreadful newspapers down here.

If you like, notify any students who might be interested that they can get it by googling The Decarie Report.

By the way, old friends in journalism tell me The Gazette is in financial trouble. That’s not terrible, really. The only newspapers in English in the world that are high quality, intelligent and reliable are The Guardian (UK), Haaretz (Israel) and al Jazeera. Toronto is stuck with a couple of the worst papers in the world (The Sun and National Post). But even the New York Times and the Washington Post cannot be trusted as in the case in which the American government played a leading role in the slaughter of almost 300,000 men, women and children in Guatemala in the 1980s.

The only news medium in North America that carried the story was the New York Times. It mentioned it only because Clinton spoke of it in a visit to Central America in 1999. Nobody else had the story. And the Times had it only briefly and for one day.

Few Canadians ever heard of it, or know that a Canadian lay missionary was one of those murdered. He now lies in a village graveyard just a half hour drive from me. The NFB made a film about it and about him – which few Canadians have ever heard of. Neither the missionary nor the film have ever been mentioned in any New Brunswick news medium.

I learned about it back in my days with Gord Sinclair, but only because I got curious about a strange story that a doctor was in Montreal to conduct an autopsy on the body of a Canadian missionary who had died and been buried in Guatemela. So the missionary was dug up, and brought to Montreal. And, at that, it took me a long time to get the whole story.

American and Canadian companies, especially mining companies but including those nice people named Dole, have a long record of poverty wages, extreme environmental destruction, and brutal treatment of employees – including beatings and murder of those who complain. (Canada is very, very big in the mining world. We’re also notorious in Congo and parts of Asia.) In Guatemala, whole villages were destroyed, and the dead ploughed into great pits.

The sending of ‘peacekeepers’ to Haiti some years ago was a farce. We were there to give the appearance we were helping Haiti. In fact, the U.S. had overthrown the elected president, rigged a phony election to put a puppet in power. We were window dressing.

(That’s not what this blog is about, though.)

[End of text from Graeme Decarie]

CBC archives item concerning death of Canadian missionary in Guatemala

As a follow-up to Graeme’s message, Jaan shared with Graeme a CBC Archives link from a Nov. 22, 1981 CBC Man Alive broadcast:

Quebec missionary murdered in Guatemala

Jaan Pill added:

Also, here’s a fun review of a 2015 book about the the disruption of the Canadian newspaper industry:

Former Globe and Mail editor John Stackhouse reveals right-wing proclivities and much more in Mass Disruption (Nov. 8, 2015 Georgia Straight)

A good way to make a living as a writer is by forgetting about journalism and doing ethnographic research instead; among my favourites in this genre is a recent book by Luigi Tomba:

The government next door (Item at Australian National University College of
Asia & the Pacific concerning The Government Next Door (2015))

Graeme Decarie: Fascinating site about the decline of newspapers. The same thing is happening with talk radio.

You’ll note that the sites dealing with Guatemala are all well after the events – and they are way off on the death count. I got to meet the doctor who performed the autopsy. It was performed to find out if he had been tortured. He had not been.

Oh, and only one was a news medium – the CBC.

In my limited spare time, I play with family history. For a while, it looked good. On the French side was Hector Decarie, world champion weight lifter for many years. Lots of Decaries made rich by land sales. The original farmstead (about 1950) was in NDG, in what became the Glen, and is now the basement of the new, English hospital. Then there was Decarie, the wealthy dentist who was deputy chief of the Nazi party in Quebec.

The Scottish side were highland peasantry, later dwellers in Glascow in one of the world’s vilest slums – called the gorbals. They had no running water and, typically, only one toilet for fifty or so residents.- and this into the early twentieth century.

The shock came when I sent for a DNA test. I know my father’s family came from France because I have traced it there to before 1600. However, the DNA showed I’m seven percent Spanish. And the name Descary ( in over a hundred spellings) is originally Spanish. I’m heavily Celtic, with a trace of west Asian – perhaps a barbarian invader.

Graeme also shared following link:

Clinton apology to Guatemala (March 12, 1999 Guardian article)

Graeme added:

The war lasted 36 years. Clinton admitted to 200,000 murdered; but it was much higher.

Raoul Leger was murdered in 1981. Very large numbers of priests, brothers and nuns were murdered by U.S. and Guatemalan troops. And many of them were tortured first.

Follow-up to discussion with Graeme Decarie

By way of a follow-up, I’ve revisited a previous post about ‘extremely violent societies’:

Christian Gerlach’s 2010 genocide-related study focuses on extremely violent societies

If I understand the study correctly, Christian Gerlach argues that the concept of ‘extremely violent societies’ serves as a useful alternative to the concept of ‘genocide.’

An outcome of my discussion with Graeme Decarie is that I will in future spend more time reading Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century (2010).

A review of the book at the Toronto Public Library website notes:

  • As more universities create conflict resolution majors, works such as this one become more relevant. “Mass violence” is “widespread physical violence against non-combatants … outside of immediate fighting between military or paramilitary personnel.” Gerlach (Univ. of Bern, Switzerland) seeks to find patterns rather than a “watertight model” that he can apply in locations as diverse as Indonesia, the Ottoman Empire, Bangladesh, East Timor, Nazi Germany, or Guatemala. He determines that significant patterns include elite change or sudden redistributions of wealth, colonialism, the forced decline of middlemen minorities, famines, war, and discrepancies in economic development within a country. While the work is richly documented and includes some form of primary sources in each area, it is bound to ruffle some feathers. One case in point is that of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The author states that “[p]robably over half … died from starvation” and acknowledges that the Armenians had been deprived of homes, assets, and livelihoods, but he does not connect the two, or cite the recent joint body of work by Turkish and Armenian scholars. Although the book is successful in avoiding simplistic national or ideological approaches, it is a bit tedious for those outside of conflict or genocide studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. L. Russell East Carolina University – Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

[End of excerpt]

Other resources

The discussion has also prompted me to place the following books on hold at the Toronto Public Library:

Disappearing Peoples?: Indigenous Groups and Ethnic Minorities in South and Central Asia (2007)

Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (2004)

Mayas in Postwar Guatemala: Harvest of Violence Revisited (2009)

Memory of Silence: The Guatemalan Truth Commission Report (2012)

Truth Commissions: State Terror, History, and Memory (2007)

 

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