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Former Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses
#1

Former Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses

2801
2012

Ex-dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses


By AFP
Tens of thousands died during the former Guatemala strongman's rule from 1982-1983.
[Image: Efrain-Rios-Montt-1_newsfull_v.jpg]AFP
Human rights organizations have long called for former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, 85, to be prosecuted for genocide. Several massacres occurred during his rule from 1982-1983.




GUATEMALA CITY A Guatemalan judge ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to try Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide for abuses committed during the ex-general's 1982-1983 military dictatorship.
Judge Patricia Flores said that the information presented by the prosecution showed that Ríos Montt, 85, should answer to charges of orchestrating the destruction of native Maya villages during the country's civil war with leftist guerrillas.
Ríos Montt, known for his "scorched earth" campaign against Guatemala's leftist rebels, will have to answer charges that his regime was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of people.
Flores set bail at $64,000 and ordered Ríos Montt to be placed under house arrest. She said the former general is not a flight risk.
Thursday's hearing was to determine whether Ríos Montt should be formally charged with alleged atrocities that occurred during his regime, prosecutors said.
The hearing is the first since Ríos Montt lost the congressional immunity that for years had shielded him from prosecution for human rights crimes.
After the judge's ruling, the atmosphere outside the courthouse took on a celebratory tone. Family members of massacre victims, human rights activists and other Guatemalans cheered and set off fireworks. Social media buzzed with posts about the historic ruling.
"Sa sa linch'ool laa'in,' says a Q'eqchi supporter outside the #RiosMontt court hearing. My heart is very, very happy,'" the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala tweeted.
Guatemala's truth commission, which has been tasked with investigating the bloodletting, estimates that there have been some 200,000 casualties from the country's 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Some of the worst atrocities are said to have taken place during Ríos Montt's rule.
The U.N.-backed group the Historical Clarification Commission found that the government was guilty of a deliberate campaign of genocide against the mostly poor, indigenous massacre victims, many of whom were caught in the crossfire as the government battled leftist rebels.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#2
March 15, 2013

Guatemala and Latin America's Struggle for Justice


by James A. Goldston
I came to Guatemala in the late 1980s as a young researcher for what was then called Americas Watch (now Human Rights Watch). Back then, the human rights community in Guatemala was under enormous pressure. A civil war was still very much underway. And the idea that a former president might be put on trial for genocide seemed unlikely.
Times have changed. This week, a former president and his chief of military intelligence are on trial in a Guatemalan court for genocide and crimes against humanity.
In 1988, many countries in this hemisphere were just beginning to contend with abuses of the past, and for most, prosecution seemed out of the question. Truth commissions, essential though they were, were seen to be as far as governments would go in addressing the past.
Only Argentina had tried to prosecute former leaders for rights abuses, trying nine (and convicting five) members of its former military junta in 1985. But new laws effectively put a stop to any further prosecutions of abuse. Most of the nearly 9,000 disappearances documented in the Argentinean truth commission's final report went unpunished.
But over the next quarter century, we have seen astonishing progress in the search for accountability throughout the hemisphere. Jo-Marie Burt, of George Mason University, has written extensively about the transformation of recent decades, including in her recent article, "Challenging Impunity in Domestic Courts: Human Rights Prosecutions in Latin America."
In Argentina itself, in 1998, a judge held that amnesty laws did not apply to the crime of baby kidnapping. In 2005, after years of petitions, agitation, and legal battles by victims' rights groups and their supporters, the Supreme Court declared the amnesty laws as such unconstitutional, and prosecution became a real possibility again. To date, more than 1,500 alleged perpetrators have faced prosecution in Argentina; more than 200 having been convicted.
In Chile, it was only after General Augusto Pinochet left power in 1988 that a truth commission became possible. Although the commission documented more than 3,000 murders and disappearances, a 1978 amnesty law continued to block most prosecutions long afterward.
Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998 and the House of Lords' vindication of the principles of accountability galvanized the filing of numerous criminal complaints against the former dictator in Chile, where he returned in March 2000. But that August, pushed by family members of victims, the Supreme Court held that the amnesty did not apply to the crime of forced disappearance, allowing prosecutions to advance.
Pinochet eventually died in 2006 without having been tried. But since 2000, more than 750 members or former members of the state security forces have been prosecuted for human rights violations.
In Peru, for years, cases brought to the courts on behalf of civilian victims of abuses committed during the country's two-decade long civil war were blocked by amnesty laws and an unreceptive system of military justice. Change came with the thorough documentation of the Peruvian Truth Commissionwhich issued its final report in 2003and several key judgments by the Inter-American Court, which found state responsibility for human rights violations, and struck down the amnesty laws. In December 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and 25-year sentence of former president Alberto Fujimori for grave violations of human rights.
Significant barriers remain in Peru. Comparatively few registered complaints have as yet been processed, faced with a sluggish criminal justice system and political hostility by the government in power from 2006 to 2011.
In Uruguay, in 1986, a year after the end of military rule, the first trial of a military officer accused of human rights abuse was blocked by a new law which effectively halted prosecutions of members of the security forces accused of human rights violations.
The Inter-American Commission's call for repeal of the law went unanswered until persistence by victims' groups led some judges to reinterpret the law and allow some prosecutions to proceed.
In 2010, former president Juan Maria Bordaberry was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for violation of the constitutional order, as well as for murder and disappearance.
In each of the above cases, what at first seemed an impossibilityprosecution of former senior figures for grave crimesbecame a reality within the space of two or three decades.
Many factors were at work, but three stand out: pressure and persistence by victims and their families, supported by human rights organizations; secondly, a capable cadre of lawyers, judges and prosecutors skillful at exploiting political openings when they occur; and thirdly, the role of the Inter-American Commission and Court in providing redress when domestic avenues are shut.
The story is not all positive. There are numerous examples of international crimes still unpunished, where the political will, or the necessary laws or legal institutions are lacking. Haiti's former president Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has yet to face trial for crimes committed during his rule. Brazil has not prosecuted a single military officer for crimes which took place during the 1964-85 dictatorship. Just last month, Uruguay's Supreme Court held that a law allowing fresh investigations of dictatorship-era human rights crimes violates the country's constitution, a ruling that puts dozens of cases into doubt. And in the United States, President Obama, has refused to countenance prosecutions for crimes of torture or forced disappearance which took place under his predecessor.
Prosecutions are not the only appropriate response. But, together with truth, reparations and institutional reform, they are an essential part of a comprehensive approach to transitional justice.
Guatemala now stands at an important crossroads, and is poised to join the growing list of countries which, over the past two decades, have begun the hard but necessary process of coming to terms with a scarred past.
In the months ahead, advocates for justice across the globe will be looking to Guatemala for a signal that, after decades of impunity, a new stage in the struggle for justice has emerged.
James A. Goldston is executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#3
March 17, 2013

Trial to start despite last minute legal challenges


by Emi MacLean
This Tuesday, March 19, sees the scheduled start date for the oral phase of the trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez. They are accused of being the intellectual authors of the assassination of 1,771 indigenous Mayans of Ixil ethnicity in the Quiche Department, the forced displacement of 29,000, and sexual violations and torture, in massacres and violations perpetrated by the Guatemalan military during Rios Montt's 17-month rule between 1982 and 1983.
The trial is due to commence at 8:30 am local time at the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema de Justicia). It will be held before a three-judge panel of the First High-Risk Tribunal A (Tribunal Primero A de Mayor Riesgo). Judge Yazmin Barrios, the President of the High-Risk Tribunal, will be the chief judge on the panel, along with Judges Patricia Bustamante and Pablo Xitumul.
The trial is scheduled to last at least 6 weeks.
The trial date is confirmed for Tuesday, March 19, but had been uncertain, and changed, in recent weeks. On February 7, the trial date was initially set for August 14, only to be advanced from August to March 19 two weeks later, on February 20. Further, on Saturday, March 9, it was widely reported that an appellate court suspended the start date of the trial. On March 11, the civil parties clarified that the trial date remained unchanged from March 19, and that the appellate court had suspended only a separate February 4 decision by Judge Angel Galvez, the judge overseeing a preliminary phase of the trial.
Also, on March 12, the Constitutional Court resolved a long-pending amparo appeal filed by the defense concerning the applicability of a 1986 amnesty issued by General Mejia Victores, Rios Montt's successor as de facto president. The Constitutional Court ruled that the amparo was unfounded.
This historic trial results from complaints made more than a decade ago in 2000 and 2001. Various factors impeded or delayed the process for nearly a decade, a period in which there were virtually no prosecutions initiated in connection with the internal armed conflict, despite thousands of legal complaints pending or filed.
The trial has advanced in the last two years, and in particular in the last year after Rios Montt stepped down from Congress and lost his legal immunity from prosecution. In January 2011, Judge Patricia Flores, a trial court judge overseeing some of the preliminary matters in the case, ordered Rodriguez Sanchez to prison pending the prosecution. Rios Montt was a sitting legislator at this time, but when his term ended in January 2012, he also was formally accused by Judge Flores and placed under house arrest.
In the last year, the defense filed scores of amparo challenges which delayed further steps in the trial. With some of the amparo challenges still outstandingincluding the aforementioned appeal to the Constitutional Court with regard to the 1986 Mejia Victores amnestyJudge Galvez determined on January 28 that there is a prima facie case sufficient to justify a trial and ordered that a trial date be set.
On February 4, Judge Galvez ruled on the admissibility of evidence for the parties. This February 4 decision accepted all of the prosecution witnesses, experts and documentary evidence, and denied the defense various of their proposed experts, reports and documents on the ground that they were submitted out of time or in violation of certain procedural obligations. The defense challenged the rejection of some of their proposed experts and evidence, and on March 9, an appellate court granted a provisional amparo on the issue of the admissibility of the proposed defense witnesses, experts and evidence. This issue remains unresolved.
The defense continues to state that the trial cannot start on Tuesday, and that they intend to challenge the opening of the oral phase.
President Otto Perez Molina also spoke about the upcoming trial on March 13, after having remained silent on various aspects of it for months. He stated: "In Guatemala, there was no genocide," and that he "personally never received a document to go to massacre or kill a population."
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#4
March 19, 2013

Luis Moreno Ocampo: the Meaning of the Rios Montt Trial

by Jonathan Birchall
Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, made the following remarks today as the trial of former generals Efrain Rios Montt and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez began in Guatemala City:
The judges, public prosecutors, and defense attorneys of Guatemala have an enormous responsibility to guarantee a fair trial: fair for the victims and fair for the accused. A fair trial is a necessary condition of, but not alone sufficient for a successful experience: the impact of the trial on Guatemala and on the world will depend on the actions of others. Journalists, politicians, movie directors, writers, and concerned citizens are the ones who can make this trial a turning point in history.
The trial can help us understand the impact of the Cold War, a difficult period in Latin American history, when the massacre of civilians became a political tool for obtaining or maintaining power. Trained guerrilla fighters hid among the civilian populations while military and political forces developed plans for control that included the torture and murder of Guatemalan citizens.
In 1985 I had the privilege of serving as an assistant prosecutor in the trial of the military juntas that had governed Argentina. We had proof that intelligence officials from our army, educated by French and American officials, had trained Guatemalan officials in the use of torture and extrajudicial executions. Both in Argentina and in Guatemala, these murders were not isolated or spontaneous actions by members of security and armed forces. These crimes were the result of carrying out plans and orders. For this reason it is so important that the trial concentrates on those who gave the orders. In an army, the commander is responsible for the actions of his troops. If the commanding officers order and cover up the crimes, then they are responsible. This is the kind of conduct that must be avoided in future.
In the 21[SUP] st[/SUP] century, Latin America has liberated itself from political violence. Colombia is battling with the last active guerrilla group, but the violence of organized crime is the scourge of our time.
The trial of Ríos Montt should serve to clarify and overcome both the political violence of the past and this new violence of organized crime. It can serve to create a just and peaceful future for Guatemala, Latin America, and the world.
Luis Moreno Ocampo
Former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2003-2012)
Former Assistant Prosecutor in the Trial of the Juntas in Argentina (1985)
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#5
Ed Jewett Wrote:Former Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses

2801
2012Ex-dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses


By AFP
Tens of thousands died during the former Guatemala strongman's rule from 1982-1983.
[Image: Efrain-Rios-Montt-1_newsfull_v.jpg]AFP
Human rights organizations have long called for former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, 85, to be prosecuted for genocide. Several massacres occurred during his rule from 1982-1983.




GUATEMALA CITY A Guatemalan judge ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to try Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide for abuses committed during the ex-general's 1982-1983 military dictatorship.
Judge Patricia Flores said that the information presented by the prosecution showed that Ríos Montt, 85, should answer to charges of orchestrating the destruction of native Maya villages during the country's civil war with leftist guerrillas.
Ríos Montt, known for his "scorched earth" campaign against Guatemala's leftist rebels, will have to answer charges that his regime was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of people.
Flores set bail at $64,000 and ordered Ríos Montt to be placed under house arrest. She said the former general is not a flight risk.
Thursday's hearing was to determine whether Ríos Montt should be formally charged with alleged atrocities that occurred during his regime, prosecutors said.
The hearing is the first since Ríos Montt lost the congressional immunity that for years had shielded him from prosecution for human rights crimes.
After the judge's ruling, the atmosphere outside the courthouse took on a celebratory tone. Family members of massacre victims, human rights activists and other Guatemalans cheered and set off fireworks. Social media buzzed with posts about the historic ruling.
"Sa sa linch'ool laa'in,' says a Q'eqchi supporter outside the #RiosMontt court hearing. My heart is very, very happy,'" the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala tweeted.
Guatemala's truth commission, which has been tasked with investigating the bloodletting, estimates that there have been some 200,000 casualties from the country's 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Some of the worst atrocities are said to have taken place during Ríos Montt's rule.
The U.N.-backed group the Historical Clarification Commission found that the government was guilty of a deliberate campaign of genocide against the mostly poor, indigenous massacre victims, many of whom were caught in the crossfire as the government battled leftist rebels.

It really couldn't happen to a 'nicer' guy....I wish him the best...in prison and in hell! Of course, my dear country supported him.....as they did/do most dicators [and most of them they even set up in power - or ran as proxy puppets to do the US's dirty-work.]
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#6
Rios Montt Trial: The U.S. Bankrolled and Directed Mass Murder in Guatemala
By Ingrid Nanne / Guatemala Times March 28th

Rios Montt Trial: The U.S. Bankrolled and Directed Mass Murder in Guatemala

" … The acts perpetrated by the Guatemalan government during the civil war (fully backed by American government money and expertise, least we forget who bankrolled all of this) were horrendous crimes against humanity. Whether these actions can be defined as genocide - a term also debated in describing the Khamer Rouge's atrocities in Cambodia is less important. They were massacres of non combatant civilians: children, women and the elderly. … "

Related: "THE CIA IN GUATEMALA: THE LESSER KNOWN HOLOCAUST" and "Back to the Future in Guatemala The Return of General Rios Montt"

Photo: As a young Guatemalan living abroad, it has been interesting to follow Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt's trial since it started on March 19th. The story's main plot points, and its objectives, vary greatly depending on the sources. Worldwide media publications applaud Guatemalans for being the first country to prosecute a president for genocide in-country. However, while the foreign media speak of massacres, the civil war, and the guilt of General Ríos Montt, they do so without critical analysis. (General Efraín Rios Montt, courtesy of "La Hora. ")


Distorted Visions from Ríos Montt's Trial

March 25, 2013

Guatemala is often presented as a "Banana Republic", a war-torn Cold War front with brutal dictators and genocide a simplistic and misleading stereotype. But when the so-called observations of the media are so neatly in line with widespread assumptions they often go unchallenged. As a result, coverage of this story becomes one-sided.

Publication in Guatemala, on the other hand, tell an entirely different story. Many columns are filled with praise for Gen. Rios Montt as the leader that fought for the country's freedom and saved it from the jaws of communism. Local coverage of the trial emphasizes the blatant injustice of stripping these generals of their amnesty while the equally guilty guerilla leaders walk free. They challenge the definition of "genocide" in efforts to defend the General, claiming that the orders to raze entire indigenous villages were normal acts of war, and reminding us that casualties were equally savaged by both sides. This view popular amongst Guatemala's media is also backed by current president Otto Perez Molina. Locally, this trial is seen as the result of foreign pressure, and former communist supporters encroaching on the Government in hopes of pushing their own leftist agenda.

Such extreme differences in the media's coverage beg the question of what the true story is, if there even is one. Is this trial a symbolic effort to right past wrongs, can it actually serve to shift a national paradigm, or even a global one? It raises questions about the importance of amnesty and who deserves it? And will this trial bring closure and repair the harm done?

The acts perpetrated by the Guatemalan government during the civil war (fully backed by American government money and expertise, least we forget who bank rolled all of this) were horrendous crimes against humanity. Whether these actions can be defined as genocide a term also debated in describing the Khamer Rouge's atrocities in Cambodia - is less important. They were massacres of non combatant civilians: children, women and the elderly and have no excuses. The destruction of the war needs to be repaired, yet the thousands who suffered are neglected.

Now, will trying elderly generals undo the harm done? Not really. Will it stop the current wave of crime in Guatemala? Unlikely. Can the court case be more transparent, open and fair? Probably, the constant switching of lawyers and the judge's strong bias reduces the trial's credibility, and taints the verdict's validity.

What can this trial accomplish? Its main achievement may be to reduce the taboo to discuss this era of Guatemala's history. After years of repressive dictatorships, Guatemalans watch their words because they know the walls have ears and outspokenness has serious consequences. If people begin talking freely then I hope that those who suffered from the war can benefit from articulating the traumas endured. For too long indigenous people's opinions have been undermined and ignored; an attitude that continues during the court case, as can be read in the snide commentary in many local papers when describing the trial's witnesses and victims. Considering the case's proceedings, Ríos Montt will most surely be found guilty, and this will naively be regarded as a success abroad. Meanwhile, little will change in Guatemala; the victims will remain unrecovered, and poverty and discrimination will continue unaltered. The question remains: who is better off because of this process?

http://www.guatemala-times.com/opinion/c...trial.html
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#7

BREAKING NEWS: The Genocide Trial of General Efrain Rios Montt Has Just Been Suspended: A firsthand behind-the-scenes account of how Guatemala's current President and threats of violence killed the case.




By Allan Nairn
Guatemala City
April 18, 2013




For a while it looked like Guatemala was about to deliver justice.


But the genocide case against General Efrain Rios Montt has just been suspended, hours before a criminal court was poised to deliver a verdict.



The last-second decision to kill the case was technically taken by an appeals court.


But behind the decision stands secret intervention by Guatemala's current president and death threats delivered to judges and prosecutors by associates of Guatemala's army.


Many dozens of Mayan massacre survivors risked their lives to testify. But now the court record they bravely created has been erased from above.


The following account of some of my personal knowledge of the case was written several days ago. I was asked to keep it private until a trial verdict had been reached:




"It would be mistaken to think that this case redounds to the credit of Guatemala's rulers.



It was forced upon them from below. The last thing they want is justice.


But they agreed to swallow a partial dose because political forces were such that they had to, and because they thought that they could get away with sacrificing Rios Montt to save their own skins.


I was called to testify in the Rios Montt case, was listed by the court as a 'qualified witness,' and was tentatively scheduled to testify on Monday, April 15. But at the last minute I was kept off the stand 'in order to avoid a confrontation with the [Guatemalan] executive.'


What that meant, I was given to understand, was that Gen. Otto Perez Molina, Guatemala's president, would shut down the case if I took the stand because my testimony could implicate him.


Beyond that, there was fear, concretely stated, that my taking the stand could lead to violence since given my past statements and writings I would implicate the 'institutional army.'


The bargain under which Perez Molina and the country's elite had let the case go forward was that it would only touch Rios Montt and his codefendant, Gen. Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez. The rest of the army would be spared, and likewise Perez Molina.


On that basis, Perez Molina, it was understood, would refrain from killing the Rios Montt trial case, and still more importantly would keep the old officer corps from killing prosecutors and witnesses, as well as hold off any hit squads that might be mounted by the the oligarchs of CACIF (the Chambers of Agriculture, Commerce, Industry and Finance). (Perez Molina has de facto power to kill the case via secret intervention with the Constitutional and other courts.)


This understanding was seen as vital to the survival of both the case and those involved in it. Army associates had already threatened the family of one of the lead prosecutors, and halfway through the trial a death threat had been delivered to one of the three presiding judges.


In the case of one of those threatened a man had offered him a bribe of one million US dollars as well as technical assistance with offshore accounts and laundering the funds. All the lawyer had to do was to agree to stop the Rios Montt case.


When that didn't work, the angle changed: the man put a pistol on the table and stated that he knew where to find the lawyer's children.


But so far no trial people had actually been killed. Though things were tense, the bargain was holding.


But to the shock of many and to world headlines in a press that had long under- and mis- reported Guatemala's terror, everything changed on April 5 when Hugo Ramiro Leonardo Reyes, a former army mechanic, testified by video from hiding that Perez Molina had ordered atrocities.


Testifying with his face half-covered by a baseball cap he recounted murders by Rios Montt's army and then unexpectedly added that one of the main perpetrators has been Perez Molina who he said had ordered executions and the destruction of villages.


This had occurred, he testified, during the massacres around Nebaj when Perez Molina was serving there as Rios Montt's field commander in 1982-83.


As it happened, I had also been there at that time and had encountered Perez Molina who was then living under the code name Major Tito Arias.


I had interviewed him on film several times. On one occasion we stood over the bodies of four captured guerrillas he had interrogated. Out of his earshot, Perez Molina's subordinates told me how, acting under orders, they routinely captured, tortured, and staged multiple executions of civilians.


The trial witness's broaching of Perez Molina's past evidently angered the President. He publicly denounced the witness and had him investigated


He then summoned the Attorney General. The word went forth that if the trial case mentioned Perez Molina again, all previous understandings would be suspended. Canceling the Rios Montt case would be the least of their worries: there would be hell to pay.


The case went forward as originally agreed with Perez Molina. My testimony was cancelled, and the court record was kept clear of any additional evidence that could have further implicated the President.


Under Guatemalan law, a sitting President cannot be indicted. Perez Molina's term ends in 2016.


This is one small but revealing aspect of the case. The massacre story is not yet over."




After the above private account was written, Guatemala's army and oligarchy rallied. They started to feel that they had no political need to sacrifice Rios Montt. As Perez Molina heard from the elite, his and Rios Montt's interests converged.


On April 16 Perez Molina said publicly that the case was a threat to peace. On April 18, today, the Rios Montt genocide case was suspended.






(Regarding Background Sources: For some of my filmed inteviews with Perez Molina see the documentary Skoop! directed by Mikael Wahlforss. EPIDEM, Scandinavian television, 1983. Long excerpts from it, under the title Titulares de Hoy, are available on the website of Jean-Marie Simon who was my colleague on the film. Also see her photographs and narrative in her book Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny, W.W. Norton, 1988.


For a detailed contemporaneous report of the Rios Montt massacres see my piece in the April 11, 1983 The New Republic, "The Guns of Guatemala: The merciless mission of Rios Montt's army." The piece quotes some of Perez Molina's army subordinates and briefly mentions him as "Major Tito." At the time I wrote it and worked on the film I did not know his real name.


YouTube excerpts from the film went viral in Guatemala during Perez Molina's 2011 presidential campaign. During the campaign Perez Molina was evasive about whether he really was "Major Tito," though it later surfaced that he had admitted it years before but had then attempted to obscure that admission.


Also see my piece in the April 17, 1995 The Nation, "C.I.A. Death Squad: Americans have been directly involved in Guatemalan Army killings." The piece reports on US sponsorship of the G-2, the Guatemalan military intelligence unit which picked targets for assassination and disappearance and often did its own killings and torture. The piece names Perez Molina as one of "three of the recent G-2 chiefs [who] have been paid by the C.I.A., according to U.S. and Guatemalan intelligence sources."


The piece adds that then-Colonel "Perez Molina, who now runs the Presidential General Staff and oversees the Archivo, was in charge in 1994, when according to the Archbishop's human rights office, there was evidence of General Staff involvement in the assassination of Judge Edgar Ramiro Elias Ogaldez."


Likewise, at the time of The Nation article I still did not know that Perez Molina was Tito.

For one aspect of the US role in supporting Rios Montt see my Washington Post piece: "Despite Ban, U.S. Captain Trains Guatemalan Military," October 21, 1982, page 1.


After the 1983 New Republic piece the Guatemalan army sent an emissary who invited me to lunch at a fancy hotel and politely told me that I would be killed unless I retracted the article. The army murdered Guatemalans all the time, but for a US journalist the threat rang hollow. The man who delivered the threat later became an excellent source of information.)
http://www.allannairn.org/2013/04/breaki...neral.html
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#8
Such things are so commonplace we shouldn't be surprised.

When push comes to shove, politicians and the state machinery invariably capitulate to threats, bribes or influence. The guilty are set free, the innocent killed or imprisoned.

The world is upside down.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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A historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Ríos Montt on was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala's Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala's decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Thursday's decision is seen as a major blow to indigenous victims. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported last night Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala's president, General Otto Pérez Molina. Ríos Montt was the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. Nairn flew to Guatemala last week after he was called to testify in Ríos Montt's trial. He was listed by the court as a "qualified witness" and was tentatively scheduled to testify on Monday. But at the last minute, Nairn was kept off the stand "in order," he was told, "to avoid a confrontation" with the president, General Pérez Molina, and for fear that if he took the stand, military elements might respond with violence. In the 1980s, Nairn extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres and was prepared to present evidence that personally implicated Pérez Molina, who was field commander during the very Mayan Ixil region massacres for which the ex-dictator, Ríos Montt, had been charged with genocide. [includes rush transcript]
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: An historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported last night Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala's president, General Otto Pérez Molina.

Ríos Montt was the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide.
He was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala's Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala's decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

On Thursday, survivors of the genocide attempted to approach Ríos Montt inside the courtroom, screaming "Murderer!"

AMY GOODMAN: The trial took a surprising turn last week when Guatemala's current president, General Otto Pérez Molina, was directly accused of ordering executions. A former military mechanic named Hugo Reyes told the court that President Pérez, then serving as an army major and using the name Tito Arias, ordered soldiers to burn and pillage a Mayan Ixil area in the 1980s.

We're going right now to investigative journalist Allan Nairn. He flew to Guatemala City last week after wehe was called to testify in Ríos Montt's trial. He was listed by the court as a "qualified
witness" and was tentatively scheduled to testify Monday. But at the last minute he was kept off the stand "in order," he was told, "to avoid a confrontation" with the president, General Pérez Molina, and for fear that if he took the stand, military elements might respond with violence.

In the '80s, Allan Nairn had extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres and was prepared to present evidence that personally implicated Pérez Molina, who was field commander during the very Maya Ixil region massacres for which the ex-dictator, General Ríos Montt, has been charged with genocide.

Allan Nairn, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of the latest developments, the annulling of the trial of Ríos Montt?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, this trial was a breakthrough, not just for Guatemala, but for the world. It was the first time that any nation had been able to use its domestic criminal courts to try a former head of state for genocide. Dozens upon dozens of Mayan survivors of the massacres risked their lives to come and testify. A massive evidentiary record was put together, in my view, to proving a case of genocide against General Ríos Montt and his co-defendant, his former intelligence chief. A verdict was just hours away. A verdict could have come today in the trial, but yesterday it was all annulled after intervention by General Pérez Molina, the current president, and the Guatemalan military and oligarchy killed it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Allan, can you talk about what you learned in terms of the threats to the judges andthe judge and the prosecutor and what's been their reaction, even though they've been sitting here now for several weeks in this trial?

ALLAN NAIRN: In one case, one ofone of the lawyers involved in pushing the case forward was approached by a man who offered him a million dollars if he would kill the case against Ríos Montt, a million U.S. dollars. He also said he would help him launder the money, set up offshore bank accounts. The lawyer rejected that. The man then took out a pistol, put the pistol on the table and said, "I know where your children are." Another was approached on the street with awith a direct death threat. Despite those threats, though, the case went forward. And now, after [inaudible] to kill the case, the attorney general of Guatemala, the trial judge presiding in the case are both vowing to try to go forward with it. They're vowing to continue with the court hearing just a couple hours from now, even though they've been told they can't. So a direct political confrontation has been set.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to investigative journalist Allan Nairn. He's in Guatemala City. We're reaching him by Democracy Now! video stream. Listen carefully. It's a little difficult to make out what he is saying. But, Allan, we wanted to ask about why your testimony was canceled before the overall annulment of the trial yesterday. Why was your testimony considered so dangerous?

ALLAN NAIRN: I was given to understand that if I were called to the stand, two things would happen. First, President Pérez Molina would intervene to shut down the trial. And secondly, there could be violence, particularly from retired military. The reason was that, as you mentioned in the introduction, one witness had already implicated Pérez Molina in the massacres. He was a field commander at that time. After that testimony, Pérez Molina called in the attorney general, and the word went out that if he was mentioned again in the trial, if his name came up once, he would immediately shut it down. Soand they knew that I could implicate Pérez Molina further, because I had met him in the highlands during the massacres when he was operating under a code name. And I interviewed soldiers under his command who described how, under orders, they executed and tortured civilians.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Allan, in terms of theof Pérez Molina himself, you have a situation here, obviously, after the Central America accords, when some sort of relative peace came to the region. How did Pérez Molina rise to power, being one of the underlings of Ríos Montt and the military that visited such carnage and such destruction on the people of Guatemala?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the reason the military was doing those massacres in the first place was to preserve a political and economic system under which there was 80 percent attrition in the area around Nebaj, which is where Pérez Molina was stationed and where, at the same time, there were world-class rich people running the plantations, the banks, the industries. Those massacres were basically successful in crushing the population and crushing any resistance and in maintaining that system. And within that system, Pérez Molina was able to rise. He became a colonel. He became the head of the G-2 military intelligence service during a time [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN: We're having a little trouble hearing, Allan.

ALLAN NAIRN: placed on the CIA payroll. At one point, an office under his control was implicated in theat one point, an office under Pérez Molina's control was implicated in the assassination of a judge. He rose to general, and he was able to become president. That's thethat's the Guatemalan system. Yet, remarkably, even given that system, this movement from below of massacre survivors who refused to give up, who insisted on trying to bring generals to justice, was able to generate this trial, aided by people of integrity who had found their way into the Guatemalan judiciary and prosecution system, and a trial was begun. They heard massive amounts of evidence. I believe it was on the verge of giving a verdict, but then, at the last minute, Pérez Molina and the powers that be intervened.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, Allan, we just have less than a minute, the attorney general is a woman. The judge is a woman. They are saying they're going to move forward with this case, although it has been anulled, with a trial today? And what about protests outside?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, protests are planned outside the court. The judge, Yassmin Barrios, and the attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz, both say they're going to defy this order to kill the case, which is extraordinary. You know, this indicates, I think, that Guatemala has reached a higher level of civilization than the United States has. Even though this case was killed in the end, it's inconceivable that in the United States a U.S. attorney, say, could indict a former U.S. president, could indict a George W. Bush for what he did in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, or could indict an Obama, and that this could proceed to trial and that massive amounts of evidence could be heard. That's not yet conceivable in the American legal system, but it happened here in Guatemala, and it almost succeeded. It came very close. And now there's going to be a popular reaction to try to continue that fight for law enforcement and justice.

AMY GOODMAN: And is it possible the trial will continue?

ALLAN NAIRN: Excuse me?

AMY GOODMAN: Is it possible the trial will continue?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I guess it's possible, if JudgeJudge Barrios and the prosecutors are physically allowed into the courtroom, that they could try to have the trial. But the powers that be above them have now banned it, have now prohibited it. Ríos Montt and his lawyers may not show up. I don't know what will happen. This is a real political crisis for Guatemala.

Allan Nairn Exposes Role of U.S. and New Guatemalan President in Indigenous Massacres

In 1982, investigative journalist Allan Nairn interviewed a Guatemalan general named "Tito" on camera during the height of the indigenous massacres. It turns out the man was actually Otto Pérez Molina, the current Guatemalan president. We air the original interview footage and speak to Nairn about the U.S. role backing the Guatemalan dictatorship. Last week, Nairn flew to Guatemala where he had been scheduled to testify in the trial of former U.S.-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. Ríos Montt was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala's Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala's decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. The trial took a surprising turn last week when Guatemala President Gen. Otto Pérez Molina was directly accused of ordering executions. A former military mechanic named Hugo Reyes told the court that Pérez Molina, then serving as an army major and using the name Tito Arias, ordered soldiers to burn and pillage a Maya Ixil area in the 1980s. Click here to hear our live update of the trial from Nairn in Guatemala City. [includes rush transcript]
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We continue our coverage of the historic trial of former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Allan Nairn joined us in our studio last week before he flew to Guatemala. I began by asking him to describe just who Ríos Montt is.

ALLAN NAIRN: Ríos Montt was the dictator of Guatemala during 1982, '83. He seized power in a military coup. He was trained in the U.S. He had served in Washington as head of the Inter-American Defense College. And while he was president, he was embraced by Ronald Reagan as a man of great integrity, someone totally devoted to democracy. And he killed many tens of thousands of civilians, particularly in the Mayan northwest highlands. In this particular trial, he is being charged with 1,771 specific murders in the area of the Ixil Mayans. These charges are being brought because the prosecutors have the names of each of these victims. They've been able to dig up the bones of most of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how this campaign, this slaughter, was carried out and how it links to, well, the current government in Guatemala today.

ALLAN NAIRN: The army swept through the northwest highlands. And according to soldiers who I interviewed at the time, as they were carrying out the sweeps, they would go into villages, surround them, pull people out of their homes, line them up, execute them. A forensic witness testified in the trial that 80 percent of the remains they've recovered had gunshot wounds to the head. Witnesses havewitnesses and survivors have described Ríos Montt's troops beheading people. One talked about an old woman who was beheaded, and then they kicked her head around the floor. They ripped the hearts out of children as their bodies were still warm, and they piled them on a table for their parents to see.

The soldiers I interviewed would describe their interrogation techniques, which they had been taught at the army general staff. And they said they would ask people, "Who in the town are the guerrillas?" And if the people would respond, "We don't know," then they would strangle them to death. These sweeps were intense. The soldiers said that often they would kill about a third of a town's population. Another third they would capture and resettle in army camps. And the rest would flee into the mountains. There, in the mountains, the military would pursue them using U.S.-supplied helicopters, U.S.- and Israeli-supplied planes. They would drop U.S. 50-kilogram bombs on them, and they would machine-gun them from U.S. Huey and Bell helicopters, using U.S.-supplied heavy-caliber machine guns.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's turn to a clip of you interviewing a soldier in the highlands. This is from a Finnish documentaryis that right? And when was this done? When were you talking to soldiers there?

ALLAN NAIRN: This was in September of 1982 in the Ixil zone in the area surrounding the town of Nebaj.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to a clip of this interview.


GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] This is how we are successful. And also, if we have already interrogated them, the only thing we can do is kill them.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] And how many did you kill?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] We killed the majority. There is nothing else to do than kill them.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] So you killed them at once?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] Yes. If they do not want to do the right things, there is nothing more to do than bomb the houses.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Bomb? With what?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] Well, with grenades or collective bombs.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] What is a collective bomb?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] They are like cannons.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Do you use helicopters?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] Yes.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] What is the largest amount of people you have killed at once?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] Well, really, in Sololá, around 500 people.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] And how do they react when you arrive?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] Who?

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] The people from the small villages.

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] When the army arrives, they flee from their houses. And so, as they flee to the mountains, the army is forced to kill them.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] And in which small village did the army do that kind of thing?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] That happened a lot of times.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Specifically, could you give me some examples where these things happened?

GUATEMALAN SOLDIER: [translated] In Salquil, Sumal Chiquito, Sumal Grande, Acul.


AMY GOODMAN: When did you interview this soldier, Allan?

ALLAN NAIRN: This was in September of '82.

AMY GOODMAN: What were you doing there?

ALLAN NAIRN: Making a documentary for Scandinavian television.

AMY GOODMAN: So you have soldiers talking about killing civilians, the brutal interrogations that they were engaged in. Why would they be telling you this? You're a journalist. They're talking about crimes they're committing.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, because this is their everyday life. They do this all the time. They do it under orders from the top of the chain of command, at that time Ríos Montt. And they had hardly ever seen journalists at that time. It was very rare for an outside journalist or even a local journalist to go into that area.

AMY GOODMAN: So let's take this to the current day, to the president of Guatemala today, because at the same time you were interviewing these soldiers, you interviewed the Guatemalan presidentat least the Guatemalan president today in 2013.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes, the senior officer, the commander in Nebaj, was a man who used the code name "Mayor Tito," Major Tito. It turns out that that man's real name was Otto Pérez Molina. Otto Pérez Molina later ascended to general, and today he is the president of Guatemala. So he is the one who was the local implementer of the program of genocide which Ríos Montt is accused of carrying out.

AMY GOODMAN: This is a huge charge. I mean, right now, it's an historic trial when it's 25 years after a past president is now being charged. Let's go to a clip of Otto Pérez Molina, the current president of Guatemala, but this is 1982 in the heartland area of Quiché in northwest Guatemala, northwest of Guatemala City. In this video clip, Otto Pérez Molina is seen reading from political literature found on one of the bodies. This is your interview with him.


MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] "The poor artisan fights alongside the worker. The poor peasant fights alongside the worker. The wealth is produced by us, the poor. The army takes the poor peasants. Together, we have an invincible force. All the families are with the guerrilla, the guerrilla army of the poor, toward final victory forever." These are the different fronts that they have.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] So here they are saying that the army killed some people.

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Exactly.


AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is astounding. This is the current president of Guatemala standing over these bodies. Tell us more.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, as one of the soldiers says in the sound in the background, thePérez Molina interrogated these men. And soon after, they werethey were dead. And one soldier told me off camera that in fact after Pérez Molina interrogated them, they finished them off.

AMY GOODMAN: This man, Pérez Molina, the president, actually was going by a code name at the time. When was it clear that this is Pérez Molina? Though we have a very clear shot of him.

ALLAN NAIRN: For a long time, Pérez Molina was trying to obscure his past and apparently hide the fact that he played this role in a supervisory position during the highland massacres. During the Guatemalan presidential campaign, which Pérez Molina eventually won, about two years ago, I got calls while I was in Asia from the Guatemalan press, from The Wall Street Journal, asking whether I could vouch for the fact that Mayor Tito, the man in the video who I encountered in the northwest highlands in the midst of the massacreswhether I could vouch for the fact that Mayor Tito was in fact General Otto Pérez Molina, the presidential candidate. And I said that I couldn't, just from looking at the current videos. You know, people can change a lot visually over 30 years, so I said I couldn't be sure. It turns out thatand during the campaign, when reporters would ask the Pérez Molina campaign, "Is Pérez Molina Mayor Tito?" they would dodge the question. They would evade. They were running from it. It turns out, though, we just learned this week, that Pérez Molina had admitted back in 2000 that he was Mayor Tito. But then, apparently afterward, he thought better of it and was trying to bury it. And now, this is potentially trouble for him. He's currently president, and so, under Guatemalan law, he enjoys immunity. But once he leaves the presidency, he could, in theory, be subject to prosecution, just as Ríos Montt is now being prosecuted.

AMY GOODMAN: That could be a serious motivation for him declaring himself president for life.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Ríos Montt seized power by a coup, but one of the important facts about the situation now is that the military men don't have the power that they used to. The fact that this trial is happening is an indication of that. This trial is happening because the survivors refused to give up. They persistedthe survivors have been working on this for decades, pushing to bring Ríos Montt and the other generals to justice. They refused to give up. They got support from internationalsome international human rights lawyers. And within the Guatemalan justice system, there were a few people of integrity who ascended to positions of some authority within the prosecutorial system, within the judiciary. And so, we now have this near-political miracle of a country bringing to trial its former dictator for genocide, while the president of the country, who was implicated in those killings, sits by.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan, this video that we have of you interviewing Pérez Molinaagain, as you said, he admitted to the Guatemalan newspaper, Prensa Libre, in 2000 that he used the nickname Titois quite astounding. So let's go to another clip, where you're talking to him about the kind of support that he wants.


ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] The United States is considering giving military help here in the form of helicopters. What is the importance of helicopters for all of you?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] A helicopter is an apparatus that's become of great importance not only here in Guatemala but also in other countries where they've had problems of a counterinsurgency.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Like in Vietnam?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] In Vietnam, for example, the helicopter was an apparatus that was used a lot.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Can you also use it in combat?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Yes, of course. The helicopters that are military types, they are equipped to support operations in the field. They have machine guns and rocket launchers.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] What type of mortars are you guys using?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] There's various types of mortars. We have small mortars and the mortars Tampella.

ALLAN NAIRN: Tampella.

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Yes, it's a mortar that's 60 millimeters.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Is it very powerful? Does it have a lot of force to destroy things?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Yes, it's a weapon that's very effective. It's very useful, and it has a very good result in our operation in defense of the country.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Is it against a person or...?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Yes, it's an anti-personnel weapon.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Do you have one here?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] It's light and easy to transport, as well.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] So, it's very light, and you can use it with your hand.

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] Exactly, with the hand.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] Where did you get them?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] These, we got from Israel.

ALLAN NAIRN: [translated] And where do you get the ammunition?

MAYOR OTTO PÉREZ MOLINA: [translated] That's also from Israel.


AMY GOODMAN: So, this is, again, the current president, Pérez Molina, of Guatemala, the general you met in the highlands in 1982, asking for more aid. Talk about the relationship between Guatemala then and the United States.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the U.S. was the sponsor of the Guatemalan army, as it had been for many decades, as the U.S. has and continues to sponsor dozens and dozens of repressive armies all over the world. In the case of Guatemala, if you go into the military academy and you see the pictures of the past presidents of military academy, some of them are actually Americans. They're actual American officers there who were openly running the Guatemalan military training. By the '80s, when the Ríos Montt massacres were being carried out, the U.S. Congress was under the impression that they had successfully stopped U.S. military aid to Guatemala. But in fact it was continuing. The CIA had an extensive program of backing the G-2, the G-2, the military intelligence service, which selected the targets for assassination and disappearance. They eventhey even built a headquarters fora secret headquarters for the G-2 near the Guatemala City airport. They had American advisers working inside the headquarters. Out in the field, Guatemalan troops were receiving from the U.S. ammunition, weapons.

And most importantly, the U.S., beginning under the Carter administration but continuing under Reagan and after, asked the Israelis to come in and fill the gap that was caused by congressional restrictions. So Israel was doing massive shipments of Galil automatic rifles and other weapons. And Pérez Molina, as you saw in the video, actually had one of his subordinates come over and show me an Israeli-made mortar. That mortar and the helicopters he was asking for from the U.S., those were the kind of weapons they would use to bomb villages and attack people as they were fleeing in the mountains. In listening to the testimony in the trial up to this moment, I was struck by the fact that almost every witness mentioned that they had been attacked from the air, that either their village had been bombed or strafed or that they were bombed or strafed as they were fleeing in the mountains. This testimony suggests that the use of this U.S. and Israeli aircraft and U.S. munitions against the civilians in the Ixil highlands was actually much more extensive than we understood at the time.

Beyond that, beyond the material U.S. support, there's the question of doctrine. Yesterday in the trial, the Ríos Montt defense called forward a general, a former commander of the G-2, as an expert witness on the defense side. And at the end of his testimony, the prosecution read to this general an excerpt from a Guatemalan military training document. And the document said it is often difficult for soldiers to accept the fact that they may be required to execute repressive actions against civilian women, children and sick people, but with proper training, they can be made to do so. So, the prosecutor asked the Ríos Montt general, "Well, General, what is your response to this document?" And the general responded by saying, "Well, that training document which we use is an almost literal translation of a U.S. training document." So this doctrine of killing civilians, even down to women, children and sick people, was, as the general testified, adopted from the U.S. Indeed, years before, the U.S. military attaché in Guatemala, Colonel John Webber, had said to Time magazine that the Guatemalan army was licensed to kill guerrillas and potential guerrillas. And, of course, the category of potential guerrillas can include anyone, including children.

And the point of guerrilla civilians is actually very important to understanding this. Those bodies that Pérez Molina was standing over in Nebaj in 1982 in the film we saw, those were actually an exception to the rule, because the truth commission which investigated the massacres in Guatemala found that 93 percent of the victims were civilians killed by the Guatemalan army. But there was also some combat going on between the army and guerrillas. And in that case, in the video we saw, the bodies Pérez Molina was standing over were guerrillas, guerrillas that the army had captured. And one of them in captivity had set off a hand grenade as a suicide act, but apparently, from what I saw and what the soldiers told me, apparently they survived the blast, and they were then turned over to Pérez Molina for interrogation. He interrogated them, and then, as we saw, they turned up dead. But in the vast majority of cases, they were civilians, completely unarmed people, who were targeted by Ríos Montt's army for elimination.

And I asked Ríos Montt about this practice on two different occasions, first in an interview with him two months after he seized power in 1982, and then later, years later, after he had been thrown out of power. And when I asked him in '82 about the fact that so many civilians were being killed by the army, he said, "Look, for each one who is shooting, there are 10 who are standing behind him," meaning: Behind the guerrillas there are vast numbers of civilians. His senior aide and his spokesman, a man named Francisco Bianchi, who was sitting next to him at this interview, then expanded on the point. Bianchi said the guerrillaswell, the indigenous populationhe called them "indios," which is a slur in Guatemalan Spanish

AMY GOODMAN: For Indians.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeswere collaborating with the guerrilla, therefore it was necessary to kill Indians. "And people would say," Bianchi continued, "'Oh, you're massacring all these innocent Indians""innocent Indios," in his words. But Bianchi then said, "But, no, they are not innocent, because they had sold out to subversion." So this is thethis is the doctrine of killing civilians, and particularly Mayans, because the army saw them collectively as a group. They didn't view them as individuals, but they saw them collectively as a group as sold out to subversion. And this was a doctrine that the U.S. supported.

AMY GOODMAN: Journalist Allan Nairn. The interview we did was recorded last week just before he left for Guatemala to testify in the trial against the Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. But at the last minute, his testimony was canceled late yesterday. The trial was canceled. We'll continue with the interview in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Mercedes Sosa, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue our coverage of the historic trial of former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Allan Nairn joined us in our studio last week before he flew to Guatemala. His testimony was canceled. The trial was canceled last night. But I asked Allan to talk about how he managed to interview the Guatemalan dictator, Ríos Montt, two months after he seized power in the 1980s.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, he washe was giving press interviews. This was an interview in the palace. I was there with a couple of other reporters. Ríos Montt was very outspoken. He would go on TV and say, "Today we are going to begin a merciless struggle. We are going to kill, but we are going to kill legally." That was his style, to speak directly. And it's in great contrast to what he's doing today. I mean, it's very interesting from point of view of people who've survived these kind of generals who live on the blood of the people, not just in Guatemala but in Salvador, in East Timor, in Indonesia, in countless countries where the U.S. has backed this kind of terror. You have the spectacle now of this general, who once made poor people tremble at the sight of him, at the mention of him, now he's hiding. In the trial, he refuses to talk. He will not defend himself. He's like a common thug taken off the streets who invokes his Fifth Amendmentinvokes his Fifth Amendment rights. But back then, when he had the power, when no one could challenge him, he would speak fairly openly. In fact, the second time I spoke to him, a number of years after, I asked Ríos Montt whether he thought that he should be executed, whether he should be tried and executed because of his own responsibility for the highland massacres, and he responded by jumping to his feet and shouting, "Yes! Put me on trial. Put me against the wall. But if you're going to put me on trial, you have to try the Americans first, including Ronald Reagan."

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, at the time in Guatemala, you not only were interviewing, well, now the current president, Pérez Molina, who was in the highlands at the time standing over dead bodies, but you were also talking to U.S. officials, and I want to go to this issue of U.S. involvement in what happened in Guatemala. Tell us about U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Stephen Bosworth, a man you got to interview at the time during the Ríos Montt years.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Bosworth was, at the time, an important player in U.S. Central American policy. And he, along with Elliott Abrams, for example, attacked Amnesty International when Amnesty was trying to report on the assassinations of labor leaders and priests and peasant organizers and activists in the Mayan highlands. And he also was denying that the U.S. was giving military assistance to the Guatemalan army that was carrying out those crimes.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's turn to the interview you did with then U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Stephen Bosworth.


STEPHEN BOSWORTH: Well, I think the important factor is that there has been, over the last six months, evidence of significant improvement in the human rights situation in Guatemala. Since the coming into power of the Ríos Montt government, the level of violence in the country, politically inspired violence, particularly in the urban areas, has declined rather dramatically. That being said, however, I think it's important also to note that the level of violence in the countryside continues at a level which is of concern to all. And while it is difficult, if not impossible, to attribute responsibility for that violence in each instance, it is clear that in the countryside the government does indeed need to make further progress in terms of improving its control over government troops.


AMY GOODMAN: You also, Allan Nairn, asked the then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Stephen Bosworth precisely what was the U.S. military presence and role in Guatemala. This is how Bosworth responded.


STEPHEN BOSWORTH: We have no military presence or role. We have, as a part of our diplomatic establishment, a defense attaché office and a military representative. But that is the same sort of representation that we have in virtually all other countries in the world. We do not have American trainers working with the Guatemalan army. We do not have American military personnel active in Guatemala in thatin that sort of area.

ALLAN NAIRN: There are no American trainers there?

STEPHEN BOSWORTH: No.

ALLAN NAIRN: None performing the types of functions that go on in El Salvador, for instance?

STEPHEN BOSWORTH: No, there are not.


AMY GOODMAN: That was then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs Stephen Bosworth. Respond to what he said, and tell us who he later became, who he is today in the U.S. government.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, first, just about everything that Bosworth said there was a lie. He said that the killings were down. In fact, they increased dramatically under Ríos Montt. He said, quite interestingly, that it was impossible to know and attribute responsibility for what was happening. Well, the Conference of Catholic Bishops had no difficulty knowing and attributing responsibility. They said that the killings have reached the extreme of genocide. They were saying this at the moment that the massacres were happening and at the moment that Bosworth was denying it. And they and the survivors and the human rights groups were all clearly blaming it on the army.

And then, finally, he said that the army has to be careful to maintain control over its troops. Well, there was a very strict control. In fact, the officers in the field in the Ixil zone that I interviewed at the time said they were on a very short leash and that there were only three layers of command between themselves in the field and Ríos Montt. And, in fact, a few weeks earlier, there had been only two layers of command between themselves and Ríos Montt.

Then, Bosworth went on to say that the U.S. was not giving any military assistance to Guatemala, but I guess it was a couple weeks after that interview when we went down to Guatemala, I met a U.S. Green Beret, Captain Jesse Garcia, who was training the Guatemalan military in combat techniques, including what he called howin his words, "how to destroy towns." This was apart from the weapons and U.S. munitions that I mentioned before, apart from the CIA trainers who were working in the CIA-built headquarters of the G-2, the military intelligence service that was doing the assassinations and disappearances.

AMY GOODMAN: The G-2 being the Guatemalan G-2. Now, today Stephen Bosworth is the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. But before that, in 2009, well, he played a key role in the Obama administration.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes, rather than beingyou know, in what you might consider to be a normally functioning political system, if a high government official lied like that about matters of such grave, life-and-death importance and was involved in the supply of arms to terrorists, in this case the Guatemalan military, you would expect him at the minimum to be fired and disgraced, or maybe brought up on charges. But Bosworth was actually promoted. And under the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton chose him as the special envoy to North Korea. He's been in the news a great deal in recent times because of his very prominent role there.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1995, Allan Nairn was interviewed on Charlie Rose about his piece in The Nation called "CIA Death Squad," in which he described how Americans were directly involved in killings by the Guatemalan army. He was interviewed alongside Elliott Abrams, who challenged what he was saying. Abrams had served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs under President Reagan from 1981 to 1985. This clip begins with Elliott Abrams.


ELLIOTT ABRAMS: Wait a minute. We're not here to refight the Cold War. We're here to talk about, I thought, a specific case in which an allegation is being made thatof the husband of an American and, another case, an American citizen were killed, and there was a CIA connection withallegedly with the person allegedly involved in it. Now, I'm happy to talk about that kind of thing. If Mr. Nairn thinks we should have been on the other side in Guatemalathat is, we should have been in favor of a guerrilla victoryI disagree with him.

ALLAN NAIRN: So you're then admitting that you were on the side of the Guatemalan military.

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: I am admitting that it was the policy of the United States, under Democrats and Republicans, approved by Congress repeatedly, to oppose a communist guerrilla victory anywhere in Central America, including in Guatemala.

CHARLIE ROSE: Alright, well, I

ALLAN NAIRN: A communist guerrilla victory.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, I

ALLAN NAIRN: Ninety-five percent of these victims are civilianspeasant organizers, human rights leaders

CHARLIE ROSE: I am happy to invite both of you

ALLAN NAIRN: priestsassassinated by the U.S.-backed Guatemalan army. Let's look at reality here. In reality, we're not talking about two murders, one colonel. We're talking about more than 100,000 murders, an entire army, many of its top officers employees of the U.S. government. We're talking about crimes, and we're also talking about criminals, not just people like the Guatemalan colonels, but also the U.S. agents who have been working with them and the higher-level U.S. officials. I mean, I think you have to beyou have to apply uniform standards. President Bush once talked about putting Saddam Hussein on trial for crimes against humanity, Nuremberg-style tribunal. I think that's a good idea. But if you're serious, you have to be even-handed. If we look at a case like this, I think we have to talkstart talking about putting Guatemalan and U.S. officials on trial. I think someone like Mr. Abrams would be a fita subject for such a Nuremberg-style inquiry. But I agree with Mr. Abrams that Democrats would have to be in the dock with him. The Congress has been in on this. The Congress approved the sale of 16,000 M-16s to Guatemala. In '87 and '88

CHARLIE ROSE: Alright, but hold on one second. I justbeforebecause the

ALLAN NAIRN: They voted more military aid than the Republicans asked for.

CHARLIE ROSE: Again, I invite you and Elliott Abrams back to discuss what he did. But right now, you

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: No, thanks, Charlie, but I won't accept

CHARLIE ROSE: Hold on one second. Go ahead. You want to repeat the question, of you want to be in the dock?

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: It is ludicrous. It is ludicrous to respond to that kind of stupidity. This guy thinks we were on the wrong side in the Cold War. Maybe he personally was on the wrong side. I am one of the many millions of Americans who thinks we were happy to win.

CHARLIE ROSE: Alright, I don't

ALLAN NAIRN: Mr. Abrams, you were on the wrong side in supporting the massacre of peasants and organizers, anyone who dared to speak, absolutely.

CHARLIE ROSE: What I want to do is I want to ask the following question.

ALLAN NAIRN: And that's a crime. That's a crime, Mr. Abrams, for which people should be tried. U.S. laws

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: Why don't youyes, right, we'll put all the American officials who won the Cold War in the dock.


AMY GOODMAN: That was Elliott Abramshe served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs under President Reagan from '81 to '85debating investigative journalist Allan Nairn on the Charlie Rose show. Actually, Congressmember Robert Torricelli, then from New Jersey, before he became senator, was also in that discussion at another point. Allan, the significance of what Mr. Abrams was saying? He went on, Abrams, to deal with the Middle East.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. Well, hewhen I said that he should be tried by a Nuremberg-style tribunal, he basically reacted by saying I was crazy, that this was a crazy idea that you could try U.S. officials for supplying weapons to armies that kill civilians. But people also thought that it was crazy that Ríos Montt could face justice in Guatemala. But after decades of work by the survivors of his Mayan highland massacres, today, as we speak, Ríos Montt is sitting in the dock.

AMY GOODMAN: Award-winning journalist Allan Nairn, speaking last week before he flew to Guatemala. On Thursday, a landmark genocide trial against former Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt was suspended after the trial threatened to implicate the current president of Guatemala in the mass killings of civilians. Allan reports Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala's president, General Otto Pérez Molina. Some of the video footage used in the show comes from a 1983 documentary directed by Mikael Wahlforss. We'll link to it at democracynow.org and to Allan Nairn's website, allannairn.org.
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Here is the video of the above interview:
http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/19/ex...es_role_of
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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