Plaintiffs in the Ríos Montt case discuss the fight against impunity in Guatemala

Photo credit: flickr user Surizar

Last week, plaintiffs in the case against Ríos Montt filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC against the Guatemalan government for failing to provide victims in the genocide case adequate access to justice, in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights.

At a separate event to discuss perspectives on the ongoing trial, Edgar Pérez – one of the lead Guatemalan prosecutors representing victims – sought to clarify why the case was annulled just 10 days after the guilty verdict was delivered. In his opinion, the defense’s legal strategy was to create technical glitches (such as changing lawyers at the last minute) which would disrupt and delay the trial. Simultaneously, supporters of Ríos Montt worked to shape public opinion of the case, both by disseminating the claim there was “no genocide in Guatemala” – an idea propagated by the country’s powerful business association and high level government officials – as well as through campaigns to criminalize those speaking out about historic memory.

The annulment sent the trial back to a midway point, a confusing and legally questionable scenario in which the same panel of judges cannot hear the same case, yet new judges cannot step in because they haven’t been party to the evidence already presented. The trial, therefore, would have to start again from the very beginning. “Because of one person, all of the advances we were making in the justice system in Guatemala were halted,” said Pérez. Continue reading


Vigil Against Impunity, Antigua Guatemala, Jun 4, 2013

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The City of Antigua Guatemala, was recently host to the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). In attendance were 28 Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State, as well as other diplomats and representatives of the Guatemalan government.

ImageAt the same time that the General Assembly was being inaugurated, the VigilAgainst Impunity was taking place in Antigua’s Central Park. Human rights activists from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, Brasil, Canada, and Guatemala gathered to remember the victims of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. The participants made clear their disapproval of the Constitutional Court’s annulment of the sentence in the genocide case against General Efrain Rios Montt, an act which denies justice to the Maya Ixil victims and survivors.

ImageThe activists voiced their solidarity with the men and women who survived the genocide, and who valiantly testified in the courtroom during the trial. “Your struggle is our struggle. The judgment against the dictator Rios Montt was also a triumph for justice in all of Latin America,” stated one of the participants.

Women’s organizations highlighted the strength and courage of the Ixil women who were victims of sexual violence during the conflict, and who gave their powerful and heartbreaking testimonies during the trial. They are an example for all the women who suffered under the dictatorships that devastated Latin America.

ImageThe vigil was illuminated by the memory of each one of the disappeared. The music of young artists, poems, and words of solidarity filled the park by Antigua’s cathedral.

Vigilia contra la Impunidad

Antigua Guatemala, 4 de Junio de 2013

En Antigua Guatemala se desarrolló en días pasados la 43 Asamblea General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA). Asistieron los cancilleres de los países miembros, cuerpo diplomático acreditado en el país y ministros del Estado guatemalteco.

ImageMientras esta Asamblea se inauguraba, se desarrollaba la Vigilia contra la Impunidad en la plaza central de Antigua Guatemala, en ella se congregaron activistas de derechos humanos de México, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panamá, Costa Rica, Honduras, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia,  Brasil, Canadá y Guatemala, para recordar a las víctimas del conflicto armado interno en el país; para manifestar su rechazo a la resolución hecha por la Corte de Constitucionalidad (CC), que anula la sentencia por genocidio y deberes contra la humanidad, dictada en contra del general José Efraín Ríos Montt, con esta anulación se niega el derecho a Justicia a las víctimas del genocidio Ixil.

ImageCada uno de los activistas tomó la palabra, manifestando su solidaridad y haciendo un reconocimiento para todas las mujeres y hombres sobrevivientes, que valientemente presentaron sus testimonios ante el tribunal que conocio el caso. Un activista latinoamericano expresó: “Su lucha fue nuestra, la sentencia dictada contra el dictador Ríos Montt, fue también un triunfo para la Justicia en América Latina…”.

ImageAsí también, organizaciones de mujeres manifestaron que la  fuerza, la valentía de las mujeres víctimas de violencia sexual al dar sus desgarradores testimonios durante el juicio, son un ejemplo para muchas que también fueron víctimas durante las dictaduras que azotaron en Latinoamérica.

La vigilia estuvo iluminada con el recuerdo de cada uno de los desaparecidos. La música de jóvenes artistas, poemas y palabras de solidaridad se escucharon esa noche a un costado de la catedral de esa ciudad guatemalteca.