Last month, Guatemala made history when it became the first country to decide to try a former leader for genocide on home soil.
On January 28, a judge ruled that General Jose Efrain Rios Montt would stand trial for acts of genocide committed while he ruled Guatemala from 1982-1983. During his time as head of state, thousands of people, the majority indigenous Maya, were massacred and disappeared by the Guatemalan armed forces. Among other objectives, the military sought to remove what they saw as a natural base of support for the guerrilla forces during the armed conflict.
The trial is important both because of its historic nature, and because of the potential implications for Guatemala’s current president, Otto Pérez Molina. Pérez Molina is a former general and acted as a commander in the Ixil region under Rios Montt. The region was one of the hardest hit by the violence of the war and is the focus of the genocide case.
We’ll keep you updated on news from the trial as it develops. In the meantime, here are some great sources on what’s happened so far:
- A Chance at Justice in Guatemala, NY Times
- Justice for genocide in Guatemala?, LA Times
- Wading uncharted waters: The trial of Rios Montt, Al Jazeera
- Guatemala: Former head of state’s trial for genocide one more step against impunity, Amnesty International
- Statement by the AJR survivors’ association and their legal team at CALDH, translated by NISGUA