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US-Backed Dictator Escapes Justice

Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt is one of the many brutal Central American dictators the United States helped put in power in the 70s and 80s. He seized control of Guatemala in 1982 in a military coup and then went on a killing spree and instituted extremely repressive policies, especially toward the indigenous population. He was on trial for genocide, but a former crony has ended the trial and subverted justice:

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.

Molina, by the way, was a field commander under Montt. This is the definition of a banana republic and yet another criminal and brutal dictator escapes justice.

Comments

  1. says

    I think you are looking at this the wrong way. What is shows it that since he was not found guilty, the US never backed a bad guy!

    USA! USA! USA!

  2. slc1 says

    Of course, the left wingers don’t seem to be at all concerned about Nicaraguan president Danny Ortega, previously the head of the Sandinistas who were not exactly choir boys when they ran that country. This despite the apparent fact that ole Danny now claims to be a born again Christian, which one would think would not endear him to lefties.

  3. dingojack says

    US-Backed Dictator Escapes Justice.
    And in other news, water discovered to be wet. Film at eleven…
    @@
    Dingo

  4. says

    It’s almost like the way new American presidents automatically indemnify their predecessors for high crimes and misdemeanors. Because “avoiding a confrontation” is a whole lot like “we must move forward and not look back” at where the bodies are buried.

  5. says

    the left wingers don’t seem to be at all concerned about Nicaraguan president Danny Ortega

    That’s because this post wasn’t about him at all. But now that you mention him, he’s a fucking asshole. And so are you.

  6. dickspringer says

    Rios Montt came to office as a born-again Protestant and had the strong backing of American evangelicals.

  7. dingojack says

    May I suggest our very own [fill in your own epithet here] SLC for the inaugural ‘If I only had a brain’ award. This award is awarded to the poster demonstrating the dullest and most pointless mistreatment of a strawmen.
    Congratulations SLC! You are a deserving winner.
    Dingo

  8. baal says

    The old I get, the more it’s clear I don’t know as much as I thought I did. To wit, yet another petty dictator-thug who killed / tortured / disappeared anyone who was the least bit ‘wrong’ or in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought I had at least heard of most of our ‘strong men’ that we propped up or put in power across the world as part of our cold war with the Soviets. No such luck, turns out there is another one of them that crops up in the OP.

  9. bmiller says

    What’s wrong, slc? Did Danny Ortega once say something MEAN about your favorite apartheid ethnic-religious colonist state?

    Otherwise, I agree with Marcus. Danny Ortega has been in “power” of some sort for decades. Plus, I would note that civil wars and guerilla wars are not known for producing kindly survivors. The fundamentalist Christianity is a sad thing, but I guess the leap from Saint Lenin to JAY-ZUS is not that far.

  10. says

    To what extent was Rios Montt “US-backed?” The impression I got at the time was that the government he overthrew was pretty much in “our” camp in the first place, and Montt was a very inconvenient diversion for us, and not at all part of our “plan.”

    As for Danny Ortega, I’d just like to mention that he never really went away, and the Sandistas never stopped being the biggest party in Nicaragua, despite about a decade of right-wing terrorism and those elections in 1990 or so that supposedly repudiated the commies forever. Just sayin.’

  11. slc1 says

    Re bmiller @ #12

    I don’t know that Danny Ortega has said anything about Israel, at least in the relatively recent past after he became a self professed born again Christian.

    By the way, I assume that bmiller is now has Fidel Castro, who said some nice things about Jews, Israel, and Bibi Netanyahu’s father in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg a year or two ago, on his shit list. He also admonished the late and unlamented Hugo Chavez over the latter’s antisemitic remarks. What a backslider.

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #7

    But left wingers never say anything about Danny boy.

  12. typecaster says

    @14 – Don’t worry, slc1 will be along shortly to tell us what other posters will say.

  13. says

    But left wingers never say anything about Danny boy.

    NO ONE ever says anything about Danny Boy anymore. That’s part of the problem: Nicaragua and El Salvador had their elections, the right-wingers won, the US declared victory, and the media suddenly just forgot Cenral America even existed. That is, in fact, the most solid media blackout I’ve seen in the US — the whole fucking country suddenly seemed to lose interest in the whole region, in the space of about a week.

    So while it’s nice of slc1 to mention Ortega again, I’d kinda like to ask what the fuck his point is.

  14. says

    It’s why the Interational Criminal Court is a good idea. Too bad it can’t rule on crimes that were committed before the year it started, which isn’t going to help Guatamala. Also too bad that some countries that could really use it didn’t participate (like the US).

  15. says

    Well, one can always hope that Rios Montt is “called home” to JESUS, the message being delivered by someone with a 9mm telephone.

    Ortega, for some reason, always makes me think of Jerry Rivers. They’re both phonies.

    Having said that I would take issue with slc1 that the number and scale of atrocities committed by the Sandanistas were anything like those perpetrated by the Contras. And while the Sandanistas may have been shits, they were not being wined and dined in FL and D.C. by the likes of Bill Casey, Ollie North and Gee Hardon Little.

  16. says

    Speaking of pesky SA countries that “just don’t get it”, should we have a pool on how long it takes for Venezuela to have a nice “people’s uprising” against the somewhat disordered ruling party.

  17. says

    …should we have a pool on how long it takes for Venezuela to have a nice “people’s uprising” against the somewhat disordered ruling party.

    We tried that already, and it didn’t work then, and it shows no signs of happening now. Just like it shows no signs of happening in Cuba despite, what, SIXTY FUCKING YEARS of US “encouragement?”

  18. says

    Democommie:
    Having said that I would take issue with slc1 that the number and scale of atrocities committed by the Sandanistas were anything like those perpetrated by the Contras

    Why play that game? If asshole X murders 1,000 people and asshole Y murders 1,100 – they’re both still assholes. Only in the warped mind of assholes like slc1 is “but the other guy is worse!” is some kind of excuse.

    With regard to the lefties not saying anything about Ortega: I just did, you little bootlicker. I said you’re both assholes. And I’m not going to get into moral equivalence debates about which of you smells worse.

  19. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #22

    Just in case anyone missed it, Ranum claimed on Mano Singham’s blog several weeks ago that the US was behind the uprising in Syria. This is total crap because the US and Israel are guilty of implicitly supporting the Assads, pere and fils for decades on the premise that the devil you know is better then the devil you don’t know. Only when Assad fils’ crimes became overwhelming have they shifted their position.

  20. mithrandir says

    slc1@2:

    Can you point to someone who comments here (or elsewhere on FTB) who was supporting Danny Ortega? Or who think he should never have to answer for what he’s done?
    Can you tell us who freedom-loving people should be supporting in Nicaragua in Ortega’s place?
    Or perhaps you think, back in the 80’s, the contras should’ve won and put the Somoza dictatorship back in power?

    If “no” to all the above, then what’s your pucking foint?

  21. Moggie says

    Efraín Ríos Montt and Otto Pérez Molina are both graduates of the notorious School of the Americas at Fort Benning (along with many other thugs).

  22. tbp1 says

    ¡Ay de Guatemala!

    I traveled in Guatemala extensively in the late 70s, and took my wife there for our honeymoon in 1988 (my in-laws were not thrilled about this, although they got over it). Much of our home decor is Guatemalan artesanía.

    It is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world, but has forever been screwed over by its ruling elites, more so than even most of the rest of Latin America. And of course much of this has been with the enthusiastic cooperation of the US.

    Living in Latin America in the 70s and early 80s complete transformed my view of the US role in world affairs, and turned my politics around 180º.

  23. says

    slc1@#23 presents a textbook case of an ad-hominem: he raises something completely irrelevant to the current discussion as if it somehow means that because I am arguably mistaken about one thing, I am therefore mistaken about all things.

    Now you’re trying to make an equivalence of wrongness, to match your pathetic attempts to put evil people on some kind of heirarchy of evilness as if that somehow excuses them (or makes your favorite evil people less evil). Your intellectual dishonesty is amazing, but I’m used to dealing with fundamentalist christian whackjobs so I’ve managed to train my brain to flex far enough to encompass some pretty weird shit – even the shit you’re spewing.

    Now you’ve managed to introduce Ortega and Syria into this thread rather than actually having a point, apparently.

    (With respect to my comment on Singham’s blog re: Syria, I believe I said that I wondered if we’d find out someday if Syria was a replay of the gamebook from Libya. I believe I also mentioned – correctly – that the US was going to arm the rebels covertly, which it has through CIA operations through Turkey. So maybe I’m right about some things but wrong about other things regarding Syria. Le shrug.)

  24. says

    I wrote: presents a textbook case of an ad-hominem
    Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I should have written: “presents a textbook case of a badly done ad-hominem.”

  25. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #27

    The ongoing tragedy in Syria has been going on for more then 2 years and only recently has the CIA gotten involved and has Bibi seen fit to comment on it, when it appears that Assad fils may be on the ropes. The fact is that the US and Israel were just fine with the Assad regime as long as he kept the ceasefire line in the Golan Highths quiet. They didn’t say boo in 1982 during the application of Hama rules. As for the current somewhat timid support for the opposition, remembering what happened in Afghanistan after the former Soviet Union pulled out, a little dithering is probably in order because we don’t know who the good guys (and that’s very much a relative term) are and who the bad guys are. Unfortunately, as in Egypt, it appears that the Syrian version of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with their Al Qaeda allies, are the best organized and they ain’t the good guys.

    However, as bad as things are in Syria, if and when Assad fils falls, they could get a lot worse as the Sunni Muslims take their revenge on the regime’s supporters. We may be talking about killings in the hundreds of thousands and refugees in the millions.

  26. says

    This is total crap because the US and Israel are guilty of implicitly supporting the Assads, pere and fils for decades…

    And this, too, is total crap because you can’t seem to specify what either the US or Israel did that constitutes “support” for either Assad. When, for example, did either the US or Israel help either Assad to fend off a coup or revolution that would have otherwise overthrown him?

    And just so we’re clear here: “doing business with a regime we’re currently not in a position to abolish” =/= “support.”

  27. says

    The fact is that the US and Israel were just fine with the Assad regime as long as he kept the ceasefire line in the Golan Highths quiet.

    Was there a viable opposition coalition who could have replaced Assad had we supported them at the time? For that matter, was there ANY popular uprising against Assad AT ALL back then?

  28. says

    scl1 drones:
    The ongoing tragedy in Syria has been going on for more then 2 years

    Nice attempt to divert. Do you always haul discussions in some random direction of your choosing so that you can talk about your hero ‘Bibi’? Wipe the drool off your chin; this isn’t a thread about “who’s your favorite thug” it’s about US support for a completely different unmentionable thug.

  29. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #30

    By implicitly supporting, I mean that neither the US or Israel made any attempt to undermine the Assad regime because they were satisfied that it was not in their interest to do so.

    Raging Bee @ #31

    Apparently, Bee is unfamiliar with what happened in the City of Hama in 1982, where there dwelled opponents to the regime who were busy carrying out terrorist attacks which were an attempt to undermine the regime. Assad pere absolutely crushed the miscreants there by surrounding the city with several hundred artillery pieces and subjecting it to a bombardment lasting several days, which killed upwards of 20l,000 people (number cited by Tom Friedman in, From Beirut to Jerusalem).

    Re Marcus Ranum

    Ranum is a fucking liar. Bibi is not my hero, as I have made clear on numerous comments on this blog as well as others, in fact, IMHO, he is a liar and totally untrustworthy. Ranum is not so cordially invited to perform an anatomical impossibility.

  30. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum

    Nice attempt to divert. Do you always haul discussions in some random direction of your choosing so that you can talk about your hero ‘Bibi

    Ranum is a liar for claiming that Bibi is my hero.I challenge to point out one comment where I said something positive about Bibi. Didn’t think so.

  31. says

    By implicitly supporting, I mean that neither the US or Israel made any attempt to undermine the Assad regime because they were satisfied that it was not in their interest to do so.

    In that case, you’re stretching the word “support” so far and thin it’s meaningless. Am I “supporting” the Koch Brothers by not looking for an opportunity to rob or kill them?

    …in the City of Hama in 1982, where there dwelled opponents to the regime who were busy carrying out terrorist attacks which were an attempt to undermine the regime.

    Are you trying to imply that the US could have done something to make that lot into a viable insurgency that could take over Syria?

  32. ambulocetacean says

    slc1,

    Since everyone in this thread has now denounced Ortega, the kleptocratic sack of shit that he is, will you now denounce Montt? After all, you never hear right-wingers talk about Montt!

    Might you also denounce the Somozas? After all, you never hear the right wingers talk about the Somozas!

  33. says

    Slc1:
    Ranum is a liar for claiming that Bibi is my hero.I challenge to point out one comment where I said something positive about Bibi. Didn’t think so.

    Is that the best you can do? Come to think of it, it probably is. Well, that’s simple enough to dispatch: I was mistaken, not lying – your use of Netanyahu’s cutesy nickname threw me (especially since you use a longer form of Hitler’s name for whatever weird reasons of your own). Furthermore, your saber-rattling and blustering sounds pretty much in line with the hard-line Israeli attitude… I was incorrect but not lying – there was no deliberate falsehood.

    That does not come close to your lying about Prof Singham’s comments – deliberately and knowingly mis-characterizing them and putting words in his mouth by implication, then conveniently dropping the thread when I challenged you on it. Or, claiming that I appeared to be in favor of nazi solutions to Israel, in the comments to Avicenna’s remarkably patient response to you over in his blog. You’re a fulminating little fucking toad, and you resort to denouncing people as liars or nazis because you’re incapable of understanding that people don’t agree with you. Not agreeing with you isn’t a moral weakness, it’s probably a better indication of humanism or integrity.

    I apologize for mistaking Netanyahu for your hero. Considering that you both are blustering, spittle-flecked tribalist assholes, maybe you can understand my error.

  34. slc1 says

    Re Ambulocetean @ #37

    Hey, I have no problem in denouncing the Somozas or Batista or that matter. The only problem is that their replacements weren’t any better.

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #38

    Your non-apology is accepted.

  35. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #36

    Apparently Bee is unfamiliar with the word implicit. Compare the US attitude toward the Assads with the US attitude toward Saddam. Was Saddam really worse then the Assads?

  36. slc1 says

    Re Ambulocetean @ #37

    I also have no problem with denouncing the Shah or Mubarak. Unfortunately, their replacements are much worse.

  37. says

    Apparently Bee is unfamiliar with the word implicit.

    Apparently slc1 is unfamiliar with the fact that he’s still stretching the word “support” so far it becomes meaningless. Sticking words like “implicit” in front of it doesn’t make anything any better — in fact, it only underscores the fact that what he calls “support” isn’t any real substantive action, just something he chooses to infer from the failure to do…what? Invade or assassinate?

    So answer my rephrased question: is it “implicit support” of the Koch Brothers when I don’t actively seek opportunities to rob or kill them?

  38. dingojack says

    I note that SLC has been conspicuously silent about the mysterious (and illegal) life and times of spy, criminal and, finally, victim of the Israeli state security police*, ‘Prisoner X’
    What? The cat got your tongue?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * What that is the original German SLC? I need a laugh, and it’s always funnier in the original.

  39. slc1 says

    I have to say that the emphasis on this thread, as well as almost all threads on this blog and others where the Middle East is the subject, is sadly misplaced. The Israel/Palestinian problem, which unfortunately, will likely not be solved in our lifetimes, is small beer compared to what is taking place in Syria. The situation in Syria is a far more serious problem for US interests in the area, because of the affect on the neighbors if the fighting spreads. Already, there have been artillery exchanges across the Turkish/Syrian border, the Lebanese/Syrian border, the Jordanian/Syrian border, and the Golan Highths cease fire line.

    It is interesting to note that Obama has threatened intervention if the Assad government uses chemical weapons and we are now being treated to a dispute between Britain, France, and Israel on one side and the US on the other side as to whether Assad has already employed chemical weapons. It is obvious that the Obama Administration is most reluctant to get involved in Syria, for good reasons as there is no reason to believe that such intervention will accomplish anything good.

    There also do not seem to be any preparations being made by NATO or any of Syria’s neighbors as to what actions they might take in the event of a sudden collapse of the Assad regime. IMHO, the massacres and ethnic cleansing that will ensue as the Sunni majority takes its revenge against the regime’s supporters amongst the minority ethnic groups will almost certainly result in intervention by the members of those ethnic groups in neighboring countries, thus resulting in a wider conflict that could well destabilize those countries.

  40. says

    I have to say that the emphasis on this thread, as well as almost all threads on this blog and others where the Middle East is the subject, is sadly misplaced…

    I have to say that the original topic of this thread was a former dictator of GUATEMALA, which isn’t even close to the Middle East. The only thing “misplaced” here is slc1’s silly-assed diversions about Ortega, Syria, and whateverthefuckelse.

  41. slc1 says

    Re Dingo the bingo @ #43

    I assume that Dingo the bingo is talking about Ben Zygier, the fellow from Australia who was spying for somebody or perhaps several somebodies and who committed suicide while in the slammer in Israel. Of course, he was apparently wanted by police in Australia who accused him of being a Mossad agent so he could have committed suicide there if they had caught up with him first.

  42. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #45

    Actually, it was bmiller @ #12 who introduced Israel into the conversation. I notice that Bee and Ranum were not at all shy about discussing Israel either. Maybe some day they might address themselves to the situation in Syria. I bring up Syria because a good friend of mine, Ammar Kanaan, and his family are Syrians who we haven’t heard from in several years. We have no idea as to their current situation.

  43. dingojack says

    SLC – Perhaps he’s in a Israeli jail? It’s about their style. [/snark]
    Dingo
    ——–
    OBTW Ben Zygier,isn’t Aboriginal so there’s a much reduced chance of dying in jail here.
    (He was suspected of working for MOSSAD, no one else).

  44. says

    Actually, it was bmiller @ #12 who introduced Israel into the conversation.

    No, he didn’t — he only mentioned something about “your favorite apartheid ethnic-religious colonist state.” What makes you so sure he was talking about Israel? :-)

    I bring up Syria because a good friend of mine, Ammar Kanaan, and his family are Syrians who we haven’t heard from in several years. We have no idea as to their current situation.

    And free-form blathering and blatant misuse of the word “support” helps…how?

  45. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #49

    Who do you think that he was talking about, Australia? Grasping at straws as usual.

  46. slc1 says

    Re Dingo the bingo @ #48

    It was the Government of Israel who thought he was spying for someone else or several someone elses.

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