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I remember the Reagan administration's fascination with Central America during the 80s. Reagan's preoccupation eventually led to a constitutional crisis here (see Iran-Contra). But there was plenty of nastiness going on down there. From the CIA's mining of a Nicaragua harbor to the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero to the Guatemala Civil War. We don't hear a lot about Central America these days. Which is good, mostly. (Honduras being an unfortunate exception, what with the 2009 Honduran coup and recent attacks on lgbt rights activists.)

But something hopeful is going on in Guatemala. A trial against former military leaders accused of human rights atrocities is being prosecuted.

Jose Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala for nearly seventeen months during 1982 and 1983, and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, his then chief of military intelligence, are on trial in Guatemala City for genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges arise from systematic massacres of the country’s indigenous population carried out by Guatemalan troops and paramilitary forces during this phase of the country’s long and brutal civil war, and the related mass forced displacement.
The quote is from a site called The Trial of Effrain Rios Montt. Coverage proceeds with each day of trial.

You can also find accounts of the trial at Boingboing.net.

Spectators in the courtroom shared the experience of seeing the now elderly Ríos Montt craning his neck to watch the younger Ríos Montt on screen, speaking when he was at the height of his powers. In the interview, the dictator insisted that his troops were not massacring campesinos in the highlands. “If I can’t control the Army, then what I am doing here?”
That's from today's report at the Rios Montt trial site.

At Boingboing Xeni Jardin notes:

Some of Montt's supporters argue that if he is being brought to trial, so should the American lawmakers who provided him with funds, military training, weapons, and helicopters under former US president Ronald Reagan.

They have a point.


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