Monday, May 20, 2013

America's Friend and Ally Convicted Of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Mike McDonald of Reuters reports that:

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country's 36-year civil war and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Rios Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and was accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels.

At the height of the bloodshed, the number of killings and disappearances reached more than 3,000 per month.

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

He was tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a fraction of the number who died during his rule.
"He had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it," Judge Yasmin Barrios, who presided over the trial, told a packed courtroom where Mayan women wearing colorful traditional clothes and head-dresses closely followed proceedings.
Throughout his mass atrocities, Montt continued to receive extensive support from the United States. President Reagan, America’s freedom-loving hero of the 80′s, described Montt as “a man of great personal integrity.” The Reagan administration actively covered up and aided Montt’s ruthless crimes against humanity –  you know, for the sake of democracy.
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan said in late 1982 that the dictator was getting a "bum rap" from rights groups for his military campaign against left-wing guerrillas during the Cold War.

He also once called Rios Montt "a man of great personal integrity".

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