The New York Times Editorial Board writes:
Securing justice for victims of the brutal . . . war in Guatemala . . . was always going to be tough. But the ruling by the country’s highest court on Monday to overturn the genocide conviction of the former dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, is a serious setback in the effort to demand accountability for those terrifying years and move the country toward reconciliation.
General Ríos Montt, 86, was found guilty on May 10 of overseeing the killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil Indian population during his rule in 1982 and 1983. The court heard wrenching accounts from survivors of the Army’s scorched-earth policy in the Mayan highlands. General Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison. On Monday, the Constitutional Court ordered that all trial proceedings since April 19 be disregarded because a procedural decision by a judge on the trial court sent the case into disarray.
Now the case’s future is in doubt. On Tuesday, lawyers on both sides said the entire trial may have to be repeated.
For 30 years, victims sought to bring General Ríos Montt to justice. His trial has been seen as a turning point both for Guatemala and for the international quest to deal with human rights abuses. The United States . . . supported the general and his regime during the war . . . . It would be a travesty if a mishandled legal proceeding were to deny victims justice now.
Click here to read the complete New York Times Editorial.
The Times notes that the U.S. has “apologized” for its role in the genocide and human rights violations. A U.S. apology for its human rights violations is an absurd act, as Jon Stewart has shown. The U.S. enjoys impunity for violating international law repeatedly in Guatemala: The U.S. overthrew the democratically elected government in 1954, according to CIA. The U.S. for decades was complicit in and sponsored genocide, wiping out entire populations of Maya Ixtil; killing, disappearing, or torturing over 200,000 people; and systematic rape and sexual violence until peace accords were signed in 1996, according to the United Nations and Catholic Church. The U.S. intentionally infected Guatemalan people with sexually transmitted diseases without their informed consent beginning in the 1940s in Nazi style experiments condemned at Nuremberg, and left victims untreated and uncompensated to the present day.
Sí hubo genocidio.