Spartacus Review

Volume 11: 21st January, 2008

South America

Title: The Art of Political Murder

Author: Francisco Goldman


Publisher: Atlantic Books

Price: £16.99

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Juan Gerardi


On a Sunday night in 1998, Bishop Juan Gerardi, Guatemala's leading human rights activist, was bludgeoned to death in his garage. Just two days earlier, a Church-sponsored report had implicated Guatemala's government in the murders and disappearances of some 200,000 civilians. The Church, realizing that it could not rely on the legal system to look into the bishop's murder, took the controversial decision to form an investigative team of young men who called themselves Los Intocables (the Untouchables) to find the killers. For seven years, Francisco Goldman followed Los Intocables' efforts to uncover the truth. He observed first-hand some of the most crucial developments in the case, including the killing and forced exile of witnesses, judges and lawyers. The Art of Political Murder is his mesmerising account of the investigation. In telling it, Goldman opens a window on the new Latin American reality of mara youth gangs and organized crime, and demonstrates, at the most intimate level, the difficulties of building democracy in a country awash with political corruption and criminality. Most of all, it is the story of an extraordinary group of courageous people and their fight for justice.