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Fri Jan 27, 2012, 04:28 AM

Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt faces genocide trial

(Reuters) Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt will face trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity as the Central American nation seeks to put a brutal 36-year civil war behind it.

A judge found sufficient evidence that linked Rios Montt, who ruled during a particularly bloody period in 1982-83, to the killing of more than 1,700 indigenous people in a crackdown on insurgents.

"I believe that there is enough evidence in these charges," said Judge Carol Flores, who agreed with prosecutors that Rios Montt should answer for brutality under his rule.

Prosecutors allege that Rios Montt, who ruled as commander-in-chief for 17 months, turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to rid Guatemala of leftist insurgents.

full: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/27/guatemala-rios-montt-genocide-trial

According to this timeline by PBS for a Frontline/World documentary "Guatemala: The Secret Files":

Despite the confirmation of massacres in Guatemalan villages across the country by anti-guerilla forces, in early 1983, a newly elected President Ronald Reagan overturned the arms embargo imposed on Guatemala by Carter in 1980. Reagan claimed Guatemala’s human rights conditions were improving, and he authorized the sale of military hardware, including weapons and vehicles, to the country’s government. Meanwhile, a then-secret 1983 CIA cable noted a rise in "suspect right-wing violence" and an increasing number of bodies "appearing in ditches and gullies."

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:50 AM

1. Now who has been "palling around with terrorists"?


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Response to DBoon (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 02:54 AM

2. What a "thrill" it was to learn Illinois (R) Rep. Jerry Weller married Zury Rios-Montt,

renewing bonds between US right-wingers and the blood-thirsty, racist right of Guatemala.

Just as morally disoriented Ronald Reagan, fundie flim-flam artist preachers Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell embraced the genocidal, bogus fundie preacher/butchering dictator and his henchmen, so has Republican Congressman Weller embraced his right-wing daughter, Guatemalan Congresswoman Zury Rios-Montt.


−Zury Mayté Ríos Sosa de Weller (born January 1968) is a Guatemalan politician, affiliated with the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) political party. She is currently serving her fourth term in Congress, where she serves as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. She has also served on the Steering Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and was the Chair of the IPU's Latin American Group where she was elected unanimously by parliamentarians from the Latin American nations.

Zury Ríos was re-elected for a fourth congressional term (2008–12) in the 9 September 2007 general election.

She is the daughter of former military dictator and FRG founder Efraín Ríos Montt, the leader of the three-man junta that came to power by military coup in 1982. As one of his staunch supporters she is a controversial figure both at home and abroad.


Jerry Weller's Wikipedia:

In July 2004, Weller announced that he was engaged to three-term Guatemalan Congresswoman Zury Ríos Montt, daughter of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.[17] On November 20, 2004, the two married at her father's home in Antigua Guatemala, his second marriage and her fourth. (Zury Ríos has also used the combined parental surname Ríos Sosa, but in Guatemala she is nowadays best known by her father's name, Ríos Montt; her personal website uses the hybrid married form "Ríos-Montt de Weller". [7])

In August 2006, a daughter, Marizú Catherine, was born in a hospital in Guatemala City.[18][19]

[edit] Properties in Nicaragua

On October 25, 2006, the Chicago Reader reported that Weller had disclosed three parcels of land he owned in Nicaragua on his financial disclosure forms: one purchased in 2002, one purchased in April 2004, and one purchased in December 2005. The newspaper also reported that it had obtained notarized bills of sale for three more lots owned by Weller that had never been listed on his forms: a lot sold in February 2005, a lot purchased in March 2005, and lot purchased in April 2005. The failure to properly disclosure property ownership is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996.

Weller's lawyer said that he couldn’t comment because of the attorney-client privilege.[20] Weller's campaign manager said Weller "does not own three more parcels in Nicaragua. He does not own six parcels in Nicaragua. He has filed his disclosure for everything that he owns."[21]

On September 7, 2007, the Chicago Tribune disclosed the results of their own investigation into his land deals, including discrepancies on declared prices and numbers of transactions, centered in the Playa Coco resort area. For example, Weller listed only one Nicaraguan property purchase on his 2005 disclosure form, but property records in Nicaragua showed that he bought or sold at least eight pieces of land.[22]



Father of the blushing bride, genocidal dictator Efrain Rios-Montt

Rios-Montt's legacy, survivors of a massacre carrying
remains of their loved ones from mass grave for re-burial.[center]

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:12 AM

3. Completely missing in school text books is the amazing choice given to the citizens

by Rios Montt in his bizarre "guns and beans" initiative. What a mighty man of God, you bet.

Important background on this ally of the US right-wing:

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about General Efrain Rios Montt is his brother. In May 1998 Bishop Mario Rios Montt succeeded the assassinated Bishop Juan Gerardi as head of the Catholic Church's human-rights office in Guatemala. His task is to continue Gerardi's work, uncovering the truth behind the massacre or disappearance of upwards of 200,000 people during the prolonged and continuing 'civil war'- more accurately described as attempted genocide - against the indigenous Mayan majority of the Guatemalan population. The person who, in the early 19805, presided over the most vicious single episode in this genocide was none other than the Bishop's brother, the General. Efrain is also an ordained minister of the authoritarian, right-wing Gospel Outreach/Verbo evangelical church, based in California and one of several such churches that have been expanding fast

in the region, at the expense of the Catholic Church. General Rios Montt's evangelical zeal is linked to the military 'education' he received - like many of his peers in Latin America - from the School of the r Americas, run by the US military in Panama. From the 19505 onwards this notorious 'Coup School' taught its students how to contribute to US interests and the anti-Communist effort by usurping political power in Latin America by any available means, including assassination, torture and 'disappearance'. After a US-orchestrated military coup in 1954, Guatemala became a key component of US 'counter-insurgency' activity throughout Central America. So when Rios Montt grew to maturity and duly seized power in 1982 he set out to show what a good student he had been. He launched a 'Guns and Beans' offensive against Guatemala's persistent insurgents. A subsequent report commissioned by the UN found that at least 448 mostly Indian villages had been simply wiped off the map. The targeting of the Mayan peoples forced hundreds of thousands to flee to the mountains or to neighboring Mexico. Many of those who remained were corralled into 'hamlets' to produce cash crops for export.

According to Amnesty International, in just four months there were more than 2,000 fully documented extrajudicial killings by the Guatemalan army: 'People of all ages were not only shot, they were burned alive, hacked to death, disembowelled, drowned, beheaded. Small children were smashed against rocks or bayoneted to death.' The Catholic bishops said: 'Never in our national history has it come to such extremes.' US President Ronald Reagan, visiting Guatemala on a swing through Latin America, hailed Rios Montt as 'totally dedicated to democracy'.


[center]~ ~ ~ ~ ~[/center]

Reagan and Rios Montt

The 1980s was marked by barbaric repression and the massacre of the indigenous population. A succession of elected dictators, supported by the US, left suffering in their wake. Because of the notoriety that again developed from reports of human rights violations by the Guatemalan Army, President Reagan changed the US policy of overt aid to the Guatemalan Army to a two- track policy. While government spokespersons made public pronouncements in support of human rights and the return to civilian rule, the Reagan Administration signaled to the Guatemalan Army its approval for winning the war, and it lobbied Congress for more aid. The CIA continued to work with Guatemala's security forces.

General Efrain Rios Montt, a graduate of the School of the Americas (SOA), at Fort Benning, Georgia, came to power in a 1982 coup. Praised as a "born-again" Christian reformer, in truth he was one of the most savage of Guatemalan dictators. His "Beans and Rifles" program was designed to keep guerrillas out of Indian villages -- beans for those who cooperated, rifles for those who didn't. He declared a "state of siege", and on television, he stated that he had "declared a state of siege so that we could kill legally". He banned public meetings, suspended the constitution, replaced elected officials, and censored the press. He also instituted Civil Defense Patrols (PACs) to control the population.

Rios Montt moved the war from urban centers to the countryside where "the spirit of the lord" guided him against "communist subversives', mostly indigenous Indians. As Guatemalans suffered torture, kidnappings, and massacres at the hands of the government, he presented himself as the savior of the population. Using the lessons he had learned at the SOA, he implemented a "pacification" program similar to that used by the US in Vietnam, intended to give the impression that the government wanted to reestablish democracy in the country. In reality, as the "pacification" program moved from village to village, it essentially established concentration camps bpopulated by those who had been able to survive the massacres and political genocide which the government itself carried out.

During the 17 months of Rios Montt's "Christian" campaign, 400 villages were destroyed, 10 - 20,000 Indians were killed, and over 100,000 fled to Mexico. Early in 1983, President Reagan resumed military shipments to Guatemala, claiming that Montt's program against the guerrilla insurgency was working. He said that Montt was given a "bum rap" on human rights.


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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:44 AM

4. There was a clear difference between the position taken by Carter and Clinton on Guatemala vs Reagan

Very quick example, using the example from this article:

Jennifer Harbury vs. the US government

In 1995, US policy toward Guatemala was driven by the unprecedented public attention to the plight of US citizen Jennifer Harbury, the wife of disappeared guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca. In 1992, Bamaca was captured and murdered. His wife, American attorney Jennifer Harbury, waged an impassioned campaign to find her husband and bring his killers to justice. Her hunger strikes first in Guatemala City and then in front of the White House, touched a chord among Americans. Representative Robert Toricelli of the House Intelligence Committee revealed that both Michael DeVine and Efrain Bamaca had been executed on the orders of Colonel Julio Roberto Alpirez, who had been on the CIA payroll for years, and had been trained at the School of the Americas.

Harbury's struggle against the lies, intimidation, and cover-up mounted by the Guatemalan authorities brought to US public attention a reality all too familiar to Guatemalans. In addition, her pressure for answers from the US government prompted the unraveling of a series of revelations about the CIA's secret assistance to abusive military institutions and officers in Guatemala. The scandal revealed a secret policy that for many years had made all but irrelevant Washington's public postures on human rights in Guatemala. In the cascade of revelations, it became clear the CIA had secretly provided millions of dollars in assistance to Guatemala's G-2 unit, even after the US government cut-off of overt military aid and sales in 1990.

In March 1995, the Clinton Administration, as a result of Jennifer Harbury's hunger strike in front of the White House, suspended military training for Guatemalan Army officers. Shortly thereafter, Clinton ordered most of the CIA's assistance to the Guatemalan military suspended, except for anti-narcotics funding. The Intelligence Oversight Board (it had never before been convened) was convened at the end of 1995, but its report was a whitewash, concluding that "No evidence has been found that any employee of the CIA in any way directed, participated in or condoned the murder of Michael DeVine." Perhaps, Alpirez was not considered an "employee" even though he was on the CIA payroll. It seems certain that there will be a similar finding in the Bamaca execution as well.

Several millions of dollars in military aid cut off in 1990 by the Bush administration, was channeled by Clinton into a peace fund to support the work of the MINUGUA human rights verification mission.



[font size=1]Jennifer Harbury and Carol DeVine, the widows of Efrain Velasquez and Michael DeVine
respectively, testify in Congress about the CIA's involvement in the murders of their husbands.[/font]


"We have no scorched earth policy. We have a scorched Communist policy."
Guatemalan President

"The military guys who do this are like serial killers. If Jeffrey Dahmer
had been in Guatemala, he would be a general by now."
- CLYDE SNOW, forensic anthropologist

Compared to the struggles against state tyranny in other Central American countries, very little is heard of Guatemala in the Western media. This is because the level of repression is extremely high; Guatemala has suffered the worst record of human rights abuses in Latin America. During three decades, hundreds of thousands of people have been massacred during their struggle against a government that has been armed and trained by the U.S.

Anyone attempting to organise a union or simply suspected of being in support of the resistance was a target. Armed men broke into their homes and dragged them away. The abducted were tortured, mutilated or burned; their bodies were found buried in mass graves or floating in plastic bags in lakes or rivers, or lying beside the road. Bodies were dropped into the Pacific from airplanes. In the Gualan area, it was said, no one fished any more because too many corpses were caught in the nets. In Guatemala City, right wing terrorists machine-gunned people and houses in daylight. Journalists, lawyers, students, teachers, trade unionists, members of opposition parties, anyone who helped or expressed sympathy for the rebel cause, anyone with a vaguely leftist political association or a moderate criticism of government policy and relatives of the victims were all targets for attack.

"It is hard to find the words to express the state of putrefaction that exists in
Guatemala, and the permanent terror in which the inhabitants live. Every day
bodies are pulled out of the Motagua River, riddled with bullets and partially
eaten by fish. Every day men are kidnapped right in the street by unidentified
people in cars, armed to the teeth, with no intervention by the police patrols."
- from the notebook of MICHELE KIRK, a young French woman who shot
herself in Guatemala City as the police came to her room to make "inquiries."

The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) contributed to a programme to greatly expand the size of Guatemala's national police force and to develop it into a professional body skilled at counteracting urban disorder. Additionally, the police force was completely supplied with radio patrol cars and a radio communications network and funds to build a national police academy and pay for salaries, uniforms, weapons and equipment.


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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 05:48 AM

5. Amnesty International:Why Do We Need to Keep Up the Pressure to Prosecute Rios Montt for Genocide?

Why Do We Need to Keep Up the Pressure to Prosecute Rios Montt for Genocide?
By Larry Ladutke
January 30, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Monday’s ruling that General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of military intelligence, General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, should stand trial for the massacre of almost 2,000 people in the 1980s is an encouraging sign in the quest for justice and accountability in Guatemala. But we must keep up our vigilance to make sure justice moves forward!

A little over a month after I wrote a post on this blog about the need to bring Rios Montt to justice, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina—a former general who served under Rios Montt—issued a decree that said the State of Guatemala would no longer recognize the competence of the Inter American Court of Human Right’s rulings regarding crimes that took place before 1987. The decree was published on December 28, 2012 – over the holidays when most people are out of their offices.

Pressure from the local and international human rights community convinced President Perez Molina to withdraw this decree in mid-January. But this effort by the President to try and strip away one of the key advocacy tools for relatives of the thousands killed during the internal armed conflict demonstrates that the government is interested in trying to shield perpetrators from justice. We need to keep up the pressure on the Guatemalan government to prevent further efforts to protect Rios Montt and others responsible for widespread human rights violations.

Amnesty International is therefore calling on the government to allow full and free access to military archives from the wartime era so that victims and their families can pursue both truth and justice. You can learn more about efforts to press for justice in Guatemala by listening to this BBC interview with Fredy Peccerelli, Director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation.


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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 12:12 AM

6. Evidence hearings begin in Guatemala genocide case

Evidence hearings begin in Guatemala genocide case
The Associated Press
Posted: 01/31/2013 06:24:42 PM PST
February 1, 2013 2:25 AM GMTUpdated: 01/31/2013 06:24:42 PM PST

GUATEMALA CITY—A judge has begun accepting testimonies, documents and other evidence in the genocide case against former military dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt.

Judge Miguel Angel Galvez on Thursday opened hearings allowing the presentation of evidence in the case against Rios Montt, who is accused of ordering the murder, torture and displacement of Mayan Indians after he seized control of the government in a March 1982 coup.

Galvaz had ruled on Monday that Rios Montt could be tried by a three-judge panel on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the killing of 1,771 indigenous Ixiles in a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at wiping out support for leftist guerrillas when he was president in 1982-1983.

The United Nations says more than 200,000 people were killed during the 1960-96 civil war.


(Short article, no more at link.)

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:50 AM

7. Wading uncharted waters: The trial of Rios Montt

Wading uncharted waters: The trial of Rios Montt

The events in Guatemala are exceptional because they are happening at home, in the nation where the crimes occurred.

Last Modified: 04 Feb 2013 10:48

When a judge ruled last week that former general and Guatemalan head of state Jose Efrain Rios Montt will, finally, stand trial for the crime of genocide, the news resounded profoundly at home and abroad. These events in Guatemala mark the first time a national court, anywhere, prosecutes its own former head of state for the crime of genocide.

Several international courts established in the last 20 years have prosecuted people involved in genocide. The events in Guatemala are exceptional because they are happening at home, in the nation where the crimes occurred.

Rios Montt, 86, is the latest of several ex-officers in Guatemala to face the law concerning crimes committed during the country's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996. His arrest in January 2012 - the judge ordered the former army general confined to his home - represented an extraordinary break with impunity in the Central American country; the decision this to proceed with the trial, despite attempts to have the charges dropped, is of even greater significance. No ranking officer has been held responsible for the violence in which some 200,000 people, almost all civilians, lost their lives.

The Rios Montt trial is also an important development in an evolving arena of international human rights.

Aside from a few problematic cases, genocide has been prosecuted in international jurisdictions. In Ethiopia, for example, a former dictator was tried for genocide in absentia. In Iraq, a purportedly "national court", heavily influenced by the United States, then occupying the country, convicted and executed "Chemical Ali". The Nuremburg trials of Nazis in the aftermath of the Holocaust were conducted by a multinational body composed of the allied powers and formally prosecuted crimes against humanity. Rwanda has had genocide trials for its nationals, but none of such high stature.


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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:16 PM

8. Ronald Reagan, Enabler of Atrocities

Ronald Reagan, Enabler of Atrocities
By Robert Parry
February 6, 2011

When you’re listening to the many tributes to President Ronald Reagan, often for his talent making Americans feel better about themselves, you might want to spend a minute thinking about the many atrocities in Latin America and elsewhere that Reagan aided, covered up or shrugged off in his inimitable "aw shucks" manner.

Defending Rios Montt

Despite the widespread evidence of Guatemalan government atrocities cited in the internal U.S. government cables, political operatives for the Reagan administration sought to conceal the crimes. On Oct. 22, 1982, for instance, the U.S. Embassy claimed the Guatemalan government was the victim of a communist-inspired "disinformation campaign."

During a visit to Central America, on March 10, 1999, President Bill Clinton apologized for the past U.S. support of right-wing regimes in Guatemala.

"For the United States, it is important that I state clearly that support for military forces and intelligence units which engaged in violence and widespread repression was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake," Clinton said.

Though Clinton admitted that U.S. policy in Guatemala was “wrong” -- and the evidence of a U.S.-backed “genocide” might have been considered startling -- the news was treated mostly as a one-day story in the U.S. press. It prompted no panel discussions on the cable news shows that were then obsessed with Clinton’s personal life.


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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:28 PM


US Marines and the Drug War in Guatemala
by Dawn Paley, Toward Freedom

GUATEMALA CITY — The news broke in the United States during the lazy summer days of late August: 200 US Marines were stationed in Guatemala as part of the war on drugs. The deployment of US combat troops to Guatemala was part of Operation Martillo, a military plan meant to disrupt cocaine trafficking routes that pass through Central America on their way from Colombia to the United States.

Fighting organized crime and drug trafficking is the most recent justification for US incursions in Guatemala, also serving to justify the increased activity of Guatemalan military around the country. This militarization is taking place in areas where there are fierce social and land conflicts related to the imposition of mega-resource extraction projects, such as in mining and oil industries. In addition, communities that resist displacement and the extractive industries have been tarred with accusations that they are involved in the organized crime; in some cases entire peasant villages have even been labeled "narco-communities."

"We have the sense that [fighting narcotrafficking] is a pretext to return to the level of military deployment that was maintained during the height of the armed conflict, which resulted in acts of genocide," said Iduvina Hernandez Batres, of the Guatemala City-based NGO Security and Democracy (Sedem). The Guatemalan army, which is still formally ineligible for receiving US military assistance, was responsible for the vast majority of the 200,000 killed and the 50,000 disappeared during the internal armed conflict, which officially ended in 1996.

The Guatemalan army was called upon "to put an end to the external threats and contribute to neutralizing illegal armed groups by means of military power," by Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina the day after his inauguration in January 2012. Pérez Molina, a former General and head of army intelligence, also promised to increase military spending. So far, he has kept his promise. According to Plaza Publica, a Guatemalan investigative journalism outlet, projected spending on military and security equipment in 2013 alone will surpass all such spending between 2004 and 2012.


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