After a very lengthy legal process, “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,” Reuters reports.
Montt came to power in Guatemala in a 1982 military coup. Not surprisingly, the United States trained him at the infamous School of the Americas, where many a future Latin American mass murderer learned his trade. After coming to power amid instability, Montt proceeded to slaughter thousands of innocent people, mostly poor indigenous villagers. At the height of the bloodshed, the number of killings and disappearances reached more than 3,000 per month.
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.
Montt will spend the rest of his life in jail and will be forever remembered in the history books as a genocidal murderer. No one has dared to suggest whether those in Washington who supported Montt’s crimes ought to face similar justice.
Update: Jim Lobe’s blog post following the Montt conviction on Friday is a must-read. In it, Lobe points out that Elliot Abrams, respected scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, probably bears considerable personal responsibility for his involvement in U.S. policy toward Guatemala as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights. In another post, Lobe points out the irony of having Elliot Abrams, a veteran of the Iran-Contra scandal in which the Reagan administration secretly and illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to continue supporting the ruthless Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of explicit congressional action to stop said support, comment on the Benghazi “cover-up.” Read them both.