Tag Archives: rios montt

The General’s Labyrinth

CASA RIOS MONTT 2013

On May 10, it appeared that former Guatemalan strongman Efraín Ríos Montt would spend the rest of his days in a prison cell, convicted of genocide and a lengthy list of war crimes. On May 17, the court released a 718 page sentencing document summarizing the evidence, and providing detailed legal arguments supporting the conviction.

For a moment or two, it seemed likely that the largely Mayan victims of Ríos Montt’s savage, murderous abuse would finally receive justice, and that the world would witness the first conviction for genocide ever adjudicated through a national legal system. Now it appears far more likely that the former general will escape into a vast legal labyrinth.

THE GENERAL IMAGINES LIFE INSIDE THE LABYRINTH

THE GENERAL IMAGINES LIFE INSIDE THE LABYRINTH

First, the Constitutional Court ruled that the trial lost legal standing due to a technicality, and must be rolled back to April 19, recommencing only when the technical issues have been resolved. Yet that is just the first turn in the labyrinth. As described by the Open Society Justice Initiative:

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Further, Ríos Montt’s legal team contends that he should be covered under a 1986 amnesty issued by a successor strongman, despite the revocation of that amnesty , and the passage of a National Reconcilaition Law which granted limited amnesty, explicitly excluding genocide, torture and other crimes against humanity, as defined by international law.

With a Constitutional Court that appears deeply split and possibly compromised, resolution of these issues, followed by undoubted appeals and challenges to those resolutions, could assure that the labyrinth will provide comfortable cover to Ríos Montt for many years into the future.

The truth has been established through brave testimony and meticulous documentation, yet justice remains elusive. Beneath the surface, intimidation, erasure and forced forgetfulness will undoubtedly be deployed against those who dared to speak truth to power; the angel of memory flayed from the walls in the public square.

TRUTH TO POWER AND THEN POWER TO TRUTH

TRUTH TO POWER ; THEN POWER TO TRUTH


Before the Scales

MOMENT OF TRUTH: RIOS MONTT LISTENS TO THE VERDICT

MOMENT OF TRUTH: RIOS MONTT LISTENS TO THE VERDICT

In the extraordinary moments following the historic verdict of guilty in the trial of former Guatemalan president Efraín Ríos Montt, a song broke out among those crowded inside the courthouse, with lyrics taken from a poem by Otto Rene Castillo:

 “Here, no one cried / Here, we only want to be human / Eat, laugh, fall in love, live / Live life, not die.”

Though unable to find the mother text for these particular lines, we came across another poem (with translation below) while searching:

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RIGOBERTA MENCHU REACTS TO THE VERDICT

RIGOBERTA MENCHU REACTS TO THE VERDICT

We also came across this stunning passage from the 1982 testimonial I, Rigoberta Menchú, written by the brave Mayan woman (and 1992 Nobel laureate) who suffered much during the time of the genocidal campaign executed by Ríos Montt and many others; a woman far ahead of her time, yet one who labored tirelessly against reprisals, cover-ups, redactions, distortions of official history and false reconciliation.

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ANGELS WATCH OVER MEMORIES OF WAR

May those very same angels watch over all the witnesses who came forward to testify against the genocidal regime, in the months and years to come.