Menu JTA Search

Anti-semitism in Guatemala

The appearance of two anti-Semitic articles in the Guatemalan press in the wake of the military coup led by Gen. Ephrain Rios Monti last March 23 has deeply disturbed Guatemala’s small Jewish community, according to reports by the American Jewish Committee’s office here for Mexico and Central America.

One article, titled “The Greatest Coalition in History” and circulated by “Servi-Prensa,” a Guatemalan news service, charges that Jews constantly have tried to introduce vile and immoral currents of thought and action among non-Jews. This news service is used by papers in neighboring El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua as well as in Guatemala itself.

Another article, headlined “The Jewish Hebrew People,” alleges that”… Whoever has read one of the different editions of the books of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’will know the truth, the reality (of) … the international Jew; and who and what is the direct author of the world’s evil …. ” The Protocols is a well-known 19th century anti-Semitic tract, a forgery of the Czarist police.

The appearance of anti-Semitic articles comes at a peak of Guatemala’s political unrest and confusion following the March coup, whose direction is still unclear. Many believe these articles are the work of extreme rightwing elements in the country, seeking to exploit domestic turmoil to promote hatred of Jews.

Over the past few years, Guatemala’s Jewish community of almost 2,000 had already been shaken by the kidnappings, murders, and other acts of violence that brought the country to the brink of war before the surprise coup earlier. Thus, almost two years ago a well-known member of the Jewish community, Alberto Habie Mishoan, was murdered by a group ot armed men waiting outside his factory in Guatemala City. All Jewish institutional activity has decreased significantly, and the Jewish school of the community has been closed. There is no rabbi.

NEXT STORY