In the midst of civil war, Guatemalan writer Mario Payeras became a revolutionary, helping to found the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) in 1972. However, by the mid-1980s, Payeras had grown disillusioned with the EGP's leadership, strategy, and position on the role of indigenous people in the revolutionary movement. In exile in Mexico City, he split from the EGP and created a new movement, Octubre Revolucionario (OR). Revising his earlier ideas about the relationship between racial discrimination and class exploitation, Payeras began to call for indigenous autonomy and a future Guatemala that celebrated cultural difference and recognized ethnicity as independent from a class condition. This article uses the concept of utopia to analyze this shift in Payeras' philosophies and study how this change influenced the Guatemalan Left in the period after the genocide of the 1980s. Though OR disbanded in the mid-1990s, the organization's members drafted policies and proposals that had important ramifications and that revised the idea of utopia from a universal, predetermined destination to a more fluid concept. This article shows that as OR members grappled with the horrors of war and ongoing marginalization and exploitation of indigenous people, they began to understand utopia as a future that was historically contingent and one to be negotiated and defined through careful collaboration. By analyzing the different utopian visions for the future that the EGP and OR employed, we can better comprehend the historical ruptures and how those mapped onto competing ideas about ethnicity and class in late 20th century Guatemala.


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pp. 423-450
Launched on MUSE
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