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Mortal DoubtTransnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City$
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Anthony W. Fontes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297081

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297081.001.0001

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Emissaries of the Violent Peace

Emissaries of the Violent Peace

(p.67) Chapter 2 Emissaries of the Violent Peace
Mortal Doubt

Anthony W. Fontes

University of California Press

This chapter pieces together a few key elements of mara history that set the arc of their dystopian evolution and made them into harbingers of a new age of violence. Exploring the rise of the gangs in Guatemala means linking irrefutable historical phenomena—U.S. imperialism and Cold War atrocities, transnational migrations and deportations, and so on—with the multiple and contradictory ways people remember and make meaning out of the past. Drawing on the stories of former gang members and gang associates alongside journalists’ and scholars’ accounts, this chapter maps the political and social ferment of Guatemala City when the maras first took root; how decades of U.S. involvement in Guatemala gave the maras’ made-in-America style an irresistible magnetism for some urban youth; and, finally, the ways that this “new way of being a gang” seemed, for a moment, to structure and regulate internecine gang violence before it too fell apart.

Keywords:   gang history, Cold War, migration, American Dream, politics of memory, material and symbolic history

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