In less than a decade, Rwanda has changed from being a relatively stable country, recognized for its good governance and economic success 1 to being labeled “Africa’s hell, pure and simple,” 2 a country torn by ethnic and political violence, civil war, famine, and the movement of millions of refugees. The wave of extreme brutality that swept the country after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana in a mysterious plane crash on April 6, 1994, appeared to many outside observers to represent a spontaneous reaction to the killing of the president. In fact, as I attempt to demonstrate in this chapter, the cataclysm in which more than 500,000 people were killed in Rwanda in mid-1994 marked the culmination of a program of government-sponsored violence and intimidation intended to frustrate efforts to change the structures of power and democratize the political system. The terrible chaos that a relatively small group of state officials and their allies were able to orchestrate in their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retain power should stand as a warning of the ease with which authoritarian rulers can obstruct democratic transitions and the difficulty of directing public discontent into constructive political channels.