Escaping the Fire: How an Ixil Mayan Pastor Led His People Out of a Holocaust During the Guatemalan Civil War

Escaping the Fire: How an Ixil Mayan Pastor Led His People Out of a Holocaust During the Guatemalan Civil War

by Tomás Guzaro

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During the height of the Guatemalan civil war, Tomás Guzaro, a Mayan evangelical pastor, led more than two hundred fellow Mayas out of guerrilla-controlled Ixil territory and into the relative safety of the government army's hands. This exodus was one of the factors that caused the guerrillas to lose their grip on the Ixil, thus hastening the return of peace to the area. In Escaping the Fire, Guzaro relates the hardships common to most Mayas and the resulting unrest that opened the door to civil war. He details the Guatemalan army's atrocities while also describing the Guerrilla Army of the Poor's rise to power in Ixil country, which resulted in limited religious freedom, murdered church leaders, and threatened congregations. His story climaxes with the harrowing vision that induced him to guide his people out of their war-torn homeland. Guzaro also provides an intimate look at his spiritual pilgrimage through all three of Guatemala's main religions. The son of a Mayan priest, formerly a leader in the Catholic Church, and finally a convert to Protestantism, Guzaro, in detailing his religious life, offers insight into the widespread shift toward Protestantism in Latin America over the past four decades. Riveting and highly personal, Escaping the Fire ultimately provides a counterpoint to the usual interpretation of indigenous agency during the Guatemalan civil war by documenting the little-studied experiences of Protestants living in guerrilla-held territory.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292779204
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 07/15/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

TOMÁS GUZARO played a central role in aiding the Ixil refugees during the Guatemalan civil war and since 1987 has been the administrator of a private hospital in Nebaj, where he served as vice mayor from 2000 to 2004. He currently oversees ninety-six churches within the Church of God.

After moving to Nebaj in 1993, TERRI MCCOMB and her husband got to know Tomás Guzaro while working with agricultural development programs. They still live in Ixil country, where Terri divides her time between schooling her four children and writing.

Table of Contents

Maps ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

1 Exodus: August 1982 1

2 Son of a Mayan Priest: 1960s 12

3 Catholicism in Ixil Country: Late 1960s-Mid-1970s 28

4 The Curse: 1975-1976 39

5 Conflict of Cultures: October 1976-1977 49

6 Reconciliation: 1977-1978 57

7 Protestant Growth and the Guerrilla Takeover: February-September 1979 69

8 Between Two Fires: October 1979-August 1980 79

9 Targeting the Evangélicos: September 1980 89

10 Given a Little More Time: September-December 1980 98

11 Narrow Escapes: January 1981-February 1982 108

12 Desperate for a Way Out: February-July 1982 121

13 The Vision: July-August 1982 133

14 Escaping the Fire: August 3-4, 1982 143

15 A Taste of Freedom: August 1982 152

16 Life in a Refugee Village: September 1982-May 1983 165

17 Lifting Up Ixil Country: June 1983-2009 179

Afterword.Tomás Guzaro in Historical Context 194

Notes 205

Glossary 209

References and Further Reading 217

Index 221

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Escaping the Fire: How an Ixil Mayan Pastor Led His People Out of a Holocaust During the Guatemalan Civil War 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
carebear0 More than 1 year ago
Amazing story of how Tomas helped his people during the war. A few parts of the book were slow moving, but not for long. The book is an easy and enjoyable read. The book paints a real picture of Guatemalan life. I enjoyed the vivid pictures drawn through Terri McComb's words. It brings out how different people's lives are despite their being from the same country. Tomas is one type of man while the military is a different type of man. This book reminds me of how much one man can do if he takes the initiative to do so along with the help of God. I enjoyed Escaping the Fire and would highly recommend it. Overall very enjoyable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is so well writen. I loved it. Reading this book was a roller coaster of emotions but It also made me feel thr inner peace Tomas felt.