Monday, July 10, 2006

Spanish Judge Orders Guatemalan Arested for Genocide

Continuing the Spanish prosecution of former US backed dictators in Latin America, a Spanish High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz has ordered the arrest of former Guatemalan leaders Efran Rios Montt and Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores along with six others.

General Montt headed the country in the early 80s and turned an already genocidal war against the mostly Mayan populations of the Guatemalan highlands into a scorched earth campaign that burned villages and indiscrminantly killed their inhabitants. At least 200,000 were killed or missing by the end of the war--the worst of the right wing terror campaigns during the 1980s.

Judge Pedraz's order requires local Guatemalan officials to issue arrest warrents for the men. Rios Montt remains an important political figure in Guatemala, having run in the last presidential election; and has a daughter married to a U.S. congresman. Prosecution may be difficult. A 1999 arrest warrent is still out for a military leader who cannot be found, even though he still receives his military pension.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu warned that it could be "a very tortuous road and a test of the Guatemalan justice system."

No mention was made of the tacit support the Montt administration received from the Reagan administration during his reign of terror.


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