Weekly Round-Up: 12/11 – 12/16
- Former president and military dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt voluntarily presented himself to the Human Rights Attorney to solicit information about any charges held against him. Ríos Montt, head of the military regime that ruled during the most violent years of the internal conflict, commented that, ‘for 25 years, he has been linked to a supposed genocide in the 1980’s and, thus, would like to know if he will be facing charges’ in January when he loses his right to immunity. According to Prensa Libre, the former dictator presented himself to the Attorney General because of a list of 14 people wanted for genocide, which includes his name. He argued that ‘as Chief of State, he did not order the murder of anyonenor has he killed anyone; he employed a political strategy that allowed law and order to prevail in Guatemala.’
- Twenty-nine years after the Dos Erres massacre in Petén, President Colom formally apologized to the survivors and relatives of the victims killed in the brutal event. Ruth del Valle, president of COPREDEH (Presidential Commission on Human Rights), recognized that justice has come ‘very late’ for the victims and much work has yet to be done to achieve justice, including full identification of all individuals murdered and their proper burial. The apology comes after four former Kaibiles were charged and sentenced for involvement in the massacre earlier this year.
- President-elect Pérez Molina met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón yesterday to discuss their collaboration on a variety of issues. In a press conference following the meeting, Pérez Molina reported that they had discussed several issues, including the creation of a civil intelligence platform to share information regarding the organized crime and narco-trafficking and a possible ‘consular pass’ that would allow Guatemalan immigrants to travel through Mexico without a visa.
- Fifty more names have been added to the list of those accused of violent actsduring their supposed involvement with the leftist guerilla movement of Guatemala’s armed conflict. Theodore Michael Plocharski, a Guatemalan citizen responsible for the accusations, is claiming that the accused were involved in the kidnapping, torture and assassination of eight diplomats. The list includes human rights defenders and social activists Sandra Torres Casanova, Orlando Blanco and Marielos Monzón.
- In response to the accusations by Plocharski, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz commented that ‘we will do what is necessary to investigate these accusations, but that it is important to remember that much time has passed and it is frequently difficult to find proper documentation of the guerilla activities during the armed conflict.’
- In an interview with ElPeriodico, Theodore Plocharski comments on his motives for accusing over 50 people with links to the assassination of diplomatsand association with the leftist guerilla movements during the armed conflict. Plocharski said he wants the truth to be heard and justice to be served and argued that it is time the Attorney General investigates crimes committed by the guerrillas as well as the military. He also commented that he is not necessarily proposing legal action against the individuals on the list, but rather against the guerilla entities—ORPA, EGP, PGT and FAR.
- Sonia Pérez of Plaza Pública has published an excellent opinion piece questioning the validity of Plocharski’s accusations and suggesting that his claims are a smokescreen tactic intended to hinder legitimate justice proceedings initiated against former militaries. In another piece from the same publication, Mónica Mazariegos condemns the accusations as ‘a pathetic and desperate attempt to get even’ and argues that in this moment, now more than ever, the people of Guatemala must push for truth, justice and compensation for the victims of the armed conflict.
- Judge Carol Patricia Flores has ruled that ex-military Lucas Tecú and former PAC members Julián Acoj Morales, Mario Acoj Morales, Santos Rosales García and Eusebio Grave García will stand trial for the death of 256 members of the community of Plan de Sánchez, Rabinal, Baja Verapaz during the armed conflict. According to the accusations put forth by the Attorney General, the five former officers were directly involved in the massacre in Rabinal on July 18th, 1982 and are being charged with crimes against humanity and murder.
- The Associated Press provides a devastating depiction of violence in Guatemala, particularly in the capital city where ‘it’s not uncommon to see…residents unfazed by the sight of a corpse by the side of the street.’