16 March 2013

Ríos Montt Trial to Begin

Maya villagers gathered in a courtroom in Guatemala City in January (2012) for the evidentiary hearing in Mr. Ríos Montt’s case. Photograph © Victor J. Blue for The New York Times.
Last month I noticed this OpEd at The New York Times, noting the prospects that former Guatemalan dictator (read U.S. surrogate, alum of the School of the Americas, etc.) General Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity. Over the course of three decades an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were killed by various military regimes; a vastly disproportionate number of the victims were indigenous peoples. The crimes have been documented by multiple inquiries [1]. Now The Times reports the trial is set to commence this week. What is that saying about the 'arch of the moral universe?' The ex-dictator actually seems to be caught in the vagaries of practical political bargaining between the current Guatemalan government and the Obama administration. But that is close enough. It is lesson enough that the powerful cannot arrange for protection in perpetuity.

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