FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Strange Trial of Ríos Montt

by LUZ MENDEZ

The sentence of 80 years in prison against former de facto president Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during Guatemala’s armed conflict, emitted on May 10, 2013, was annulled by the Constitutional Court ten days later.

The court’s decision is a judicial aberration, since it not only exceeded its jurisdiction but also openly violated legal precepts and endorsed the underhanded mechanisms that uphold a system of impunity in Guatemala. It also demonstrates the lack of independence of the court to the powerful economic and political groups.

Guatemala is also one of the countries with the deepest social inequalities, where the dominant economic elite and the military and political powers have acted with the assurance of immunity and impunity. The genocide trial against a former head of state put an end to that assurance. Today we know that at some moment justice can be attained. That is why they tried to stop the trial and once the sentence was handed down, joined forces to have it annulled.

For members of the dominant groups–profoundly racist and used to discriminating and belittling indigenous peoples–it is inconceivable that indigenous people have accused and taken to court a general, who exercised brutal power precisely to defend the economic privileges of these groups.

Nonetheless, the genocide trial represents a breakthrough for justice and truth, the fundamental bases for building peace.

In the public hearings the truth emerged in all its rawness–the truth that government and military officials had sought to bury at all cost. This has meant an opportunity for younger generations to learn about an essential chapter in Guatemala’s history, an indispensable prerequisite for tracing a different future.

During the trial, the Tribunal marked that the sexual violence committed against Ixil women was a constituent element of the genocide. Testimonies and investigations presented during the trial proved that the rapes were directed not only to harm women, but also to destroy the social fabric of the communities, with the clear objective of annihilating the Ixil people.

The trial fortifies struggles for gender justice for crimes of the past and the present, which has a huge potential impact on the rampant impunity that surrounds the violence against women in Guatemala today, particularly femicide.

Another of the valuable experiences of the trial was the construction of broad alliances to support the victims that included human rights groups and women’s, indigenous people’s, peasant farmers organizations, along with intellectuals and progressive individuals and generated strong international solidarity. All this left the lesson that the unity of diverse sectors of society on a common objective is possible and indispensable to advance in just causes.

This emblematic trial is not over. The struggle for justice continues. The progress made is the result of the untiring efforts of women and men of the Maya-Ixil people, who will never stop until they attain justice. In this long road they have had the help of human rights organization and legal professionals, who also deserve recognition.

Special recognition should go to Yasmin Barrios, President of the Court of Great Risk who decided the case, along with two more members of this judicial organ. Also critical in the process was attorney general Claudia Paz y Paz, and the legal team responsible for the case in the public ministry.

Faced with a campaign of threats and intimidations unleashed by the most backwards groups in the country, it is necessary and urgent to guarantee the security and integrity of the victims, those who brought the case, the judges and prosecutors, and the human rights defenders who have accompanied the struggle for justice.

Luz Mendez is president of the Advising Council of the National Union of Guatemala Women (UNAMG). She participated in the peace negotiations as a member of the Diplomatic Political Team of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit. In the international arena, she was a member of the Team of Experts on Gender for the peace talks in Burundi organized by UNIFEM, and of the Advising Council of the Global Fund for Women. She is a contributor to the CIP Americas Program, www.cipamericas.org

Translation: Laura Carlsen

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail