Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Enabler

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Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Enabler

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:22 am

ask and ye shall recieve :shock2:

Guatemala's Former Leader Charged with Genocide. Pat Robertson Enabled It.

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:56am.

Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Nearly thirty years ago, Guatemala's ruthless dictator, José Efraín Ríos Montt and televangelist Pat Robertson were practically tied at the hip. Now, Guatemala's judicial system is debating how to handle charges of genocide against the former military dictator, while Robertson, who had praised Ríos Montt for his ‘enlightened leadership,' appears to have turned his back on his old friend.

In the early 1980s, José Efraín Ríos Montt, a military general was a favorite of the Reagan Administration and U.S. Christian conservative evangelical leaders - particularly televangelist Pat Robertson -- and organizations. Ríos Montt was one of a series of military dictators that masterminded the murders of perhaps as many as 200,000 Guatemalans -- including tens of thousands of Mayan people -- as well as the destruction of a numerous Mayan villages.

Now, some thirty years later, Ríos Montt, whose rule as de-facto president lasted for seventeen months in 1982 and 1983 -- taking over in a military coup before being ousted by a subsequent military coup - has been ordered "to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity," the New York Time recently reported.

Ríos Montt is accused of being responsible for at least 1,770 deaths, 1,400 human rights violations, and the displacement of nearly 30,000 indigenous Guatemalans.

This is the first time a Latin American court has charged a former president with genocide.

In late February, however, the judge in charge of the trial, Carol Patricia Flores, stepped down after being accused of being biased in the case. According to several press accounts, the new judge, Miguel Angel Galvez, who before postponing a scheduled hearing until the 1st of March, said that the charges against Ríos Montt as well as the conditions of his bail and house arrest, would remain in place.

During Ríos Montt's reign, "the military carried out a scorched-earth campaign in the Mayan highlands as soldiers hunted down bands of leftist guerrillas. Survivors have described how military units wiped out Indian villages with extraordinary brutality, killing all the women and children along with the men. Military documents of the time described the Indians as rebel collaborators, the New York Times reported."

A United Nations-backed truth commission, "set up after a peace accord in 1996, found that 200,000 people were killed during the civil war, mostly by state security forces. The violence against Mayan-Ixil villages amounted to genocide because the entire population was targeted, the commission concluded," the Times pointed out.

The Religious Right and the Ruthless Dictator

Thirty years ago, the Religious Right played a significant role in U.S.-Central American relations: vigorously supporting President Ronald Reagan's so-called low-intensity wars in the region - the contras in Nicaragua, right wing paramilitary death squads in El Salvador, and military dictators in Guatemala - a policy that was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people. The Religious Right's support was in part couched in the struggle against communism, and in part tied to what they hoped would be the expansion of evangelical Protestantism in the region.

Guatemala's José Efraín Ríos Montt was a favorite of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Loren Cunningham's Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and televangelist Pat Robertson.

In his book, The Most Dangerous Man in America?: Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition, Americans United's Rob Boston pointed out that Pat Robertson had praised Ríos Montt for his "enlightened leadership" and claimed that the dictator insisted on "honesty in government." Observed Robertson, "I was in Guatemala three days after Ríos Montt overthrew the corrupt [previous] government. The people had been dancing in the street for joy, literally fulfilling the words of Solomon who said, 'When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.'"

According to Right Web, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, "Within a week of the 1982 coup ... Robertson flew to Guatemala to meet with the new president. Ríos Montt's first interview as president was with Robertson, who aired it on [his Christian Broadcasting Network's program]‘The 700 Club' and praised the new military government. Robertson also urged donations for International Love Lift, a relief project of Ríos Montt's U.S. church, Gospel Outreach. Ríos Montt said that Pat Robertson had offered to send missionaries and ‘more than a billion dollars' in aid from U.S. fundamentalists. Robertson, however, claimed that he hoped to match the earlier CBN donation of $350,000 in earthquake relief and send ‘a small team of medical and agricultural experts' to Guatemala. CBN reportedly sponsored a campaign to send money and agricultural and medical technicians to help design the first model villages under Ríos Montt."

In her 1989 book, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (South End Press), Sara Diamond wrote: "Ríos Montt's ascension to power was celebrated by the U.S. Christian Right as a sign of divine intervention in Central America."

While Robertson never delivered the sums of money Ríos Montt expected, Diamond pointed out that the promise "enabled Ríos Montt to convince the U.S. Congress that he would not seek massive sums of U.S. aid. Instead, he would rely on ‘private aid' from U.S. evangelicals. Toward that end, Ríos Montt's aide... came to the United States for a meeting with... [Presidential counselor] Edwin Meese, Interior Secretary James Watt... and Christian Right leaders Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Loren Cunningham)."

In an article written prior to the publication of her book, Diamond pointed out that Montt was a member of Gospel Outreach, a fundamentalist sect based in Eureka, California, which became the Church of the Word. Diamond noted that "The Gospel in Guatemala," a PBS documentary, "revealed the complicity of Gospel Outreach in the Guatemalan Army's administration of camps for refugees from Rios Montt's brutal counterinsurgency massacres of Mayan Quiche Indians."

In the September 25, 2006 edition of The Nation magazine, Max Blumenthal reported that, Loren Cunningham, according to Diamond "was a follower of Christian Reconstructionism an extreme current of evangelical theology that advocates using stealth political methods to put the United States under the control of Biblical law and jettison the Constitution."

These days, while Guatemalans are seeking justice, Pat Robertson is still selling snake oil on his "700 Club." One of the Grand Old Men of televangelism is no longer as significant a political figure that he once was.

"In 1996, I called Pat Robertson ‘the most dangerous man in America,' but I wouldn't do that now," Americans United's Rob Boston told me in an email. "Robertson is clearly in his dotage and is no longer the powerful political figure he once was. His influence declined greatly when the Christian Coalition collapsed. Without a large political organization behind him, Robertson became just another TV preacher ranting over the airwaves."

Boston was careful, however, to give Robertson his props. "That doesn't mean we should dismiss Robertson as an unimportant figure," Boston explained. "The model he used to launch the Christian Coalition has been copied by others, including the Family Research Council, thus ensuring that his legacy will be felt for many years to come."

Meanwhile, according to two experienced right-wing watchers, Robertson has not so much as uttered the name of his former Guatemalan contact, José Efraín Ríos Montt, on "The 700 Club."


The Other Denied Genocides From Turkey to Guatemala, Nations Deny Worst Crimes

Lesser-Known Deniers: Holocaust denial is a well-known phenomenon. But what about those, like Guatemala’s ousted dictator José Efrain Ríos Montt, who deny genocides that are less commonly recognized?

By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Published February 15, 2012, issue of February 17, 2012.

Like the Holocaust itself, Holocaust denial is a well-known if often misunderstood phenomenon. In its most naked form, it denies the historical fact that during the Nazi period, Germans, helped by many other Europeans such as Ukrainians, sought to kill the Jews of Europe and managed to slaughter roughly 6 million of them. In somewhat less brazen forms, it denies not the Germans’ perpetration of the Holocaust in its entirety, but merely central aspects of it, such as that they used gas chambers or that they killed a number close to 6 million Jews. In a still somewhat more attenuated form, Holocaust denial practitioners say little about the events themselves or about the Germans or others who slaughtered Jews, and instead attack survivors or scholars, calling them frauds when they seek nothing more than to tell the truth about what happened.

Holocaust denial consists of more than outright denial of the Holocaust. It includes a variety of attempts to cast doubt on, cover up and confuse people about the Holocaust, in essence to falsify the history of this period and to fabricate a fictitious version, because it serves many people in diverse ways, primarily politically, to have such a fictitious history become accepted. Defenders of the name and honor of Germans or of Ukrainians or other Europeans, anti-Semites, enemies of Israel, propagandists of many stripes and sensibilities, all see the truth about the Holocaust to be inimical to their agendas. In this sense, the original name that the Holocaust deniers gave themselves, “Holocaust revisionists,” is correct insofar as they used a variety of strategies, many of which were not outright denial, to revise (albeit falsely) the understanding of the Nazi period and what the Germans and others did to Jews.

If Holocaust denial is the best-known and most widely practiced form of genocide denial, it is neither the only one nor the oldest. Already this year, in the span of just a few days at the end of January, we saw a few potent examples of the pushback against those who would try to bury the memory of mass murder. The French legislature criminalized the denial of the Turks’ genocide of the Armenians in World War I. A few days later, a Guatemalan judge ruled that the country’s former dictator, José Efrain Ríos Montt, the mastermind of much of the genocide of 200,000 Mayas in the early 1980s, must face trial, despite the hegemonic denial movement in Guatemala. The International Criminal Court in The Hague also ordered a trial for several of the Kenyan political organizers of the postelection eliminationist assault that in 2008 took the lives of more than 1,000 people and expelled from their homes and ruined the lives of 600,000 more — violence that Kenyan leaders have falsely insisted was simply spontaneous, local and ethnic flare ups. And Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who had exercised the controversial legal doctrine of universal jurisdiction against mass murderers, was himself put on trial in what may be a political vendetta for his having investigated the routinely denied crimes of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, responsible for the death of perhaps 200,000 Spaniards during the middle part of the 20th century.

Whatever their differences, these events are each responses to, or the expression of, attempts to deny the large-scale mass murder and eliminationist assaults that took place in each of these countries. Every denial movement is organized and led by political leaders, often at the helm of a state, who place enormous obstacles to the truth being told or to justice done. Denial movements cast doubt on, and confuse people about, the Hutu mass annihilation of Tutsi in 1994, the Serbs’ genocide of Bosniaks in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1994 and, in China, the colossal mass murders perpetrated by the communists under Mao Tse-tung.

The Turks’ denial of their slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians is the oldest, most consistent and, probably, most effective large-scale genocide denial phenomenon. It differs from Holocaust denial in that Turkey has actually criminalized telling the truth about the genocide, and the Turkish state, whether under military or civilian, secular or religious leadership, has continuously made falsifying this history a central foreign policy stance, threatening and sanctioning and influencing countries and individuals (including scholars) who would otherwise speak the truth about it. Germany, for all its shortcomings, serves as a model of honesty for its political leaders and elites, in acknowledging the past, in its media’s extensive treatment of Holocaust themes, in its educational system’s instruction and in making amends with the survivors. While Germans have all been confronted repeatedly with the truth about their countrymen’s perpetration of the Holocaust, most Turks have been fed lies by their government, have never been exposed to how their countrymen exterminated Armenians and believe that claims about the genocide are merely attempts to blacken Turkey’s name.

Survivors of all genocides say the same thing: We want the truth told. We want people to know what happened so that it will not happen to others. I heard this again and again from survivors around the world when working on my film “Worse Than War,” including in Guatemala, where survivors also called for Ríos Montt to be put on trial. When I interviewed Ríos Montt for the film, he defiantly said, “If I was responsible, I would be in jail,” implying that his freedom proved his innocence. Now his claim rings even hollower. Now his surviving victims may get their wish. Now the powerful denial movement in Guatemala, which for decades obscured even the basic facts of the genocide, should be powerfully counteracted.

We should honor the survivors’ wishes everywhere for truth and justice, and this means that, whatever the momentary political costs, we must insist that the truth be told about all genocides, the Turks’ murder of the Armenians included. Those who fail to do so perpetrate a moral and human scandal, and cast a bad light on themselves and others when they rightly condemn and combat Holocaust denial.
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:27 pm

Genocide on Trial in Guatemala
Laura Carlsen
February 29, 2012 | This article appeared in the March 19, 2012 edition of The Nation.

Victims and human rights activists cheered when, on January 26, a Guatemalan court charged Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt with genocide and crimes against humanity. The decision to bring the 85-year-old former dictator to trial is the latest stage in a long odyssey, stretching back to the early 1980s, when Guatemala experienced the bloodiest repression of its thirty-six-year civil war. During Ríos Montt’s rule (1982–83), soldiers under his command—many of them US-trained
and -equipped—applied a scorched-earth policy to annihilate indigenous villages in the Mayan highlands where guerrilla insurgents were based.

The day the indictment was handed down, I was heading to Guatemala as part of a fact-finding mission organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Just Associates to report on rising gender violence in Mexico and Central America. Two hundred thousand men, women and children were killed in Guatemala’s war, 83 percent of them Mayan, according to a 1999 report by the Commission for Historical Clarification. Some 100,000 women were raped as part of a strategy to destroy or suppress entire regions and cultures.

After arriving in Guatemala, we met some of them in a special forum. “I’m not afraid or ashamed to tell you this, because what happened to me happened to many women in this country,” one woman began. As a young girl in the highlands, she was held in sexual slavery by the armed forces. “I was a victim of kidnapping and torture,” she told us. “Many soldiers passed over my body—and not just me.” Several other women dressed in the traditional embroidered huipil nodded; despite the horror of reliving the pain, ending their silence is a source of strength and relief.

This is not the first attempt to bring Ríos Montt to justice. Guatemalan victims’ organizations filed a war crimes case against the general in 2001, but it got stuck in the country’s legal system. Years later, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Spanish Constitutional Court accepted a case that had been brought by Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchú charging Ríos Montt and seven other commanders with genocide, terrorism and torture. A tenacious lawyer named Almudena Bernabeu began the investigation. In 2006 a Spanish court issued arrest orders for the general and others, but the Guatemalan government denied extradition. When Ríos Montt was later elected to Congress, he gained immunity from prosecution. Then another extraordinarily brave woman stepped in. After Claudia Paz y Paz became Guatemala’s attorney general in 2010, she filed a case against Ríos Montt and two other military commanders on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism. “If these crimes are not sanctioned, what message are we sending about justice?” she said. “This case is a symbol to society of what can and cannot be done.” It was only after his term ran out in January that Ríos Montt could be formally charged.

The day after listening to Mayan women describe the slaughter, rape and torture they witnessed firsthand, five of us met with President Otto Perez Molina, a former army general who was elected on a law-and-order platform in November. Promises of an “iron fist” against Guatemala’s soaring crime rate carried Perez Molina into office, and the redeployment of army units throughout the country—especially in indigenous zones—stands at the center of his security plan. “There was no genocide,” he told Nobel laureate Jody Williams categorically. Silver-haired and impeccably dressed, the president of fourteen days appeared unruffled. Considering that the 1999 truth commission concluded that regional genocide took place and that Perez Molina’s own justice department has brought several genocide cases to court, the baldness of his assertion momentarily stunned us. The Ríos Montt case must be a little too close for comfort. As an army major in the early 1980s, Perez Molina was assigned to the Ixil region, where the worst crimes took place and where the charges against Ríos Montt are centered.

The Ríos Montt case is also making the US government a little nervous. WikiLeaks cables and unclassified documents indicate that the US government had information on the abuses taking place yet still supported the regime (in 1982 President Ronald Reagan famously complained that the dictator was “getting a bum rap”). Current US Ambassador Arnold Chacon brushed off the case, telling our delegation that most people he’s spoken with would prefer to look forward. The State Department would like to see restrictions on military aid lifted as it promotes the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a counternarcotics aid plan that would significantly increase the US presence in the region.

* * *

The legal definition of genocide and questions of “who knew what, when” are at the center of the Ríos Montt prosecution, explained Frank LaRue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression and a longtime Guatemalan human rights defender. “All crimes are solved from the bottom up—who shot who. But when you’re dealing with genocide, which is called a subjective crime, you’re dealing with intent.” No matter how much physical evidence accumulates—and forensic archeologists have dug up nearly 6,000 bodies from unmarked graves—if you can’t prove knowledge and intent, there’s no case.

Ríos Montt’s lawyer argued in court that the general “did not determine the level of force that the army used,” but several key pieces of evidence belie his claim. In a 1982 interview with filmmaker Pamela Yates, Ríos Montt stated proudly, “Our strength is in our ability to respond to the chain of command, the army’s capacity to react. Because if I can’t control the army, what am I doing here?” And a military document called Plan Sofia, mysteriously delivered during the recent investigation to Kate Doyle of the Washington-based National Security Archive, reveals an official policy decision that condoned the elimination of all suspected insurgents and defined entire Mayan villages as suspected insurgents. The equation was simple and deadly.

Throughout Latin America, the dictatorships of the 1980s are being forced to account for their crimes. On February 23 a US immigration judge cleared the way for the deportation of former Salvadoran Defense Minister Eugenio Vides Casanova for torture and murder, including the notorious killing of four American churchwomen in 1980. The decision sent a message that Latin American war criminals would not find refuge in the United States.

Ríos Montt’s trial will not begin for months. When the court decided to press charges, at first he agreed to stand trial, but now he has requested amnesty under a decree issued by former President Oscar Mejia, also indicted for genocide but deemed unfit to stand trial for health reasons. On February 21 the judge who admitted the case stepped down after the defense claimed she was biased. The next hearing is scheduled for March.

For the victims and bereaved, these trials are absolutely necessary. Paul Menchú, associate director of the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, explained, “I think that when someone identified as part of the policy of genocide finally stands trial—after so many years of seeking justice—it’s a healing event for thousands and thousands of victims.”


hanshan :wink:
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All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:24 pm




Image
AP PHOTO 1 MONTH AGO
REMOVES INCORRECT REFERENCE TO YEARS OF DICTATORSHIP - Guatemala's former dictator Efrain Rios Montt
wipes sweat from his forehead in a courtroom in Guatemala City on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. Rios Montt is refusing to
testify in a genocide case involving crimes against indigenous communities during his dictatorship in the 1980s. He has
been accused of being responsible for some of the worst massacres during the Central American country's 36 years of civil war.
Image
Indigenous people walk outside the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City, January 26, 2011. Former Guatemalan
dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled the country from 1980-1982 during a bloody civil war, went to the Supreme Court of
Justice to declare for the genocide accusations committed during the armed conflict. Rios Montt is one of those accused
by Spain of genocide during the 36-year conflict in which some 250,000 people died and 45,000 disappeared from 1960-1996.
Image
AP PHOTO 1 MONTH AGO
Relatives of genocide victims gather in the court room were Guatemala's former strongman Efrain Rios Montt (1980-1982) was
linked to the process of genocide and crimes against humanity in Guatemala City, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. The judge decided
that Rios Montt is under house arrest and can not move without permission of the court. On January 14, 2012, R� Montt lost the
immunity against prosecution that he had enjoyed as a member of the national legislature. As the commander in chief and
alleged intellectual author of a military campaign that largely targeted civilians, R� Montt�s prosecution has long been sought
by human rights organizations in Guatemala and elsewhere.
Image
AP PHOTO 1 MONTH AGO
Relatives of victims of a massacre of members of the Ixil ethnic group, line up to enter the court where Guatemala's former
strongman Efrain Rios Montt (1982-1983), attends an audience related to his accusations of genocide in Guatemala City,
Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. On January 14, 2012, Rios Montt lost the immunity against prosecution that he had enjoyed as a
member of the national legislature. As the commander in chief and alleged intellectual author of a military campaign that
largely targeted civilians, Rios Montt�s prosecution has long been sought by human rights organizations in Guatemala and elsewhere.
Image
FILE - In this July 23, 2011, file photo, women cook in Gaspar Velazco's house, a villager who has two sons who were
disappeared allegedly by the Guatemalan army in 1982, in the municipality of Nebaj in Guatemala. Twenty-nine years
later, in June 2011, the Public Ministry brought charges against Gen. Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes in connection with
the planning and ordering of bloody military operations that were part of a military plan coined "Victoria 82," among other
crimes during his time as the Defense Ministry's Chief of Staff, including the extermination of residents in villages within
the municipality of Nebaj during the government of Efrain Rios Montt (1982-1983).

History of Guatemala's 'Death Squads'
By Robert Parry
January 11, 2005

Though many Latin American governments have practiced the dark arts of “disappearances” and “death squads,” the history of Guatemala’s security operations is perhaps the best documented because the Clinton administration declassified scores of the secret U.S. documents in the late 1990s.

The original Guatemalan death squads took shape in the mid-1960s under anti-terrorist training provided by a U.S. public safety adviser named John Longon, according to the documents. In January 1966, Longon reported to his superiors about both overt and covert components of his anti-terrorist strategies.

On the covert side, Longon pressed for “a safe house [to] be immediately set up” for coordination of security intelligence. “A room was immediately prepared in the [Presidential] Palace for this purpose and … Guatemalans were immediately designated to put this operation into effect,” according to Longon’s report.

Longon’s operation within the presidential compound became the starting point for the infamous “Archivos” intelligence unit that evolved into a clearinghouse for Guatemala’s most notorious political assassinations.

Just two months after Longon's report, a secret CIA cable noted the clandestine execution of several Guatemalan "communists and terrorists" on the night of March 6, 1966. By the end of the year, the Guatemalan government was bold enough to request U.S. help in establishing special kidnapping squads, according to a cable from the U.S. Southern Command that was forwarded to Washington on Dec. 3, 1966.

By 1967, the Guatemalan counterinsurgency terror had gained a fierce momentum. On Oct. 23, 1967, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research noted the "accumulating evidence that the [Guatemalan] counterinsurgency machine is out of control." The report noted that Guatemalan "counter-terror" units were carrying out abductions, bombings, torture and summary executions "of real and alleged communists."

Human Rights Warnings

The mounting death toll in Guatemala disturbed some American officials assigned to the country. The embassy's deputy chief of mission, Viron Vaky, expressed his concerns in a remarkably candid report that he submitted on March 29, 1968, after returning to Washington. Vaky framed his arguments in pragmatic terms, but his moral anguish broke through.

“The official squads are guilty of atrocities. Interrogations are brutal, torture is used and bodies are mutilated,” Vaky wrote. “In the minds of many in Latin America, and, tragically, especially in the sensitive, articulate youth, we are believed to have condoned these tactics, if not actually encouraged them. Therefore our image is being tarnished and the credibility of our claims to want a better and more just world are increasingly placed in doubt.”

Vaky also noted the deceptions within the U.S. government that resulted from its complicity in state-sponsored terror. “This leads to an aspect I personally find the most disturbing of all -- that we have not been honest with ourselves,” Vaky said. “We have condoned counter-terror; we may even in effect have encouraged or blessed it. We have been so obsessed with the fear of insurgency that we have rationalized away our qualms and uneasiness.

“This is not only because we have concluded we cannot do anything about it, for we never really tried. Rather we suspected that maybe it is a good tactic, and that as long as Communists are being killed it is alright. Murder, torture and mutilation are alright if our side is doing it and the victims are Communists. After all hasn't man been a savage from the beginning of time so let us not be too queasy about terror. I have literally heard these arguments from our people.”

Though kept secret from the American public for three decades, the Vaky memo obliterated any claim that Washington simply didn't know the reality in Guatemala. Still, with Vaky's memo squirreled away in State Department files, the killing went on. The repression was noted almost routinely in reports from the field.

On Jan. 12, 1971, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that Guatemalan forces had "quietly eliminated" hundreds of "terrorists and bandits" in the countryside. On Feb. 4, 1974, a State Department cable reported resumption of "death squad" activities.

On Dec. 17, 1974, a DIA biography of one U.S.-trained Guatemalan officer gave an insight into how U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine had imbued the Guatemalan strategies. According to the biography, Lt. Col. Elias Osmundo Ramirez Cervantes, chief of security section for Guatemala's president, had trained at the U.S. Army School of Intelligence at Fort Holabird in Maryland. Back in Guatemala, Ramirez Cervantes was put in charge of plotting raids on suspected subversives as well as their interrogations.

The Reagan Bloodbath

As brutal as the Guatemalan security forces were in the 1960s and 1970s, the worst was yet to come. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan army escalated its slaughter of political dissidents and their suspected supporters to unprecedented levels.

Ronald Reagan's election in November 1980 set off celebrations in the well-to-do communities of Central America. After four years of Jimmy Carter's human rights nagging, the region's hard-liners were thrilled that they had someone in the White House who understood their problems.

The oligarchs and the generals had good reason for optimism. For years, Reagan had been a staunch defender of right-wing regimes that engaged in bloody counterinsurgency against leftist enemies.

In the late 1970s, when Carter's human rights coordinator, Patricia Derian, criticized the Argentine military for its "dirty war" -- tens of thousands of "disappearances," tortures and murders -- then-political commentator Reagan joshed that she should “walk a mile in the moccasins” of the Argentine generals before criticizing them. [For details, see Martin Edwin Andersen's Dossier Secreto.]

After his election in 1980, Reagan pushed to overturn an arms embargo imposed on Guatemala by Carter. Yet as Reagan was moving to loosen up the military aid ban, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies were confirming new Guatemalan government massacres.

In April 1981, a secret CIA cable described a massacre at Cocob, near Nebaj in the Ixil Indian territory. On April 17, 1981, government troops attacked the area believed to support leftist guerrillas, the cable said. According to a CIA source, "the social population appeared to fully support the guerrillas" and "the soldiers were forced to fire at anything that moved." The CIA cable added that "the Guatemalan authorities admitted that 'many civilians' were killed in Cocob, many of whom undoubtedly were non-combatants."

Despite the CIA account and other similar reports, Reagan permitted Guatemala's army to buy $3.2 million in military trucks and jeeps in June 1981. To permit the sale, Reagan removed the vehicles from a list of military equipment that was covered by the human rights embargo.
No Regrets

Apparently confident of Reagan’s sympathies, the Guatemalan government continued its political repression without apology.

According to a State Department cable on Oct. 5, 1981, Guatemalan leaders met with Reagan's roving ambassador, retired Gen. Vernon Walters, and left no doubt about their plans. Guatemala's military leader, Gen. Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia, "made clear that his government will continue as before -- that the repression will continue."

Human rights groups saw the same picture. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission released a report on Oct. 15, 1981, blaming the Guatemalan government for "thousands of illegal executions." [Washington Post, Oct. 16, 1981]

But the Reagan administration was set on whitewashing the ugly scene. A State Department "white paper," released in December 1981, blamed the violence on leftist "extremist groups" and their "terrorist methods," inspired and supported by Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Yet, even as these rationalizations were pitched to the American people, U.S. intelligence agencies in Guatemala continued to learn of government-sponsored massacres.

One CIA report in February 1982 described an army sweep through the so-called Ixil Triangle in central El Quiche province. "The commanding officers of the units involved have been instructed to destroy all towns and villages which are cooperating with the Guerrilla Army of the Poor [known as the EGP] and eliminate all sources of resistance," the report stated. "Since the operation began, several villages have been burned to the ground, and a large number of guerrillas and collaborators have been killed."

The CIA report explained the army's modus operandi: "When an army patrol meets resistance and takes fire from a town or village, it is assumed that the entire town is hostile and it is subsequently destroyed." When the army encountered an empty village, it was "assumed to have been supporting the EGP, and it is destroyed. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of refugees in the hills with no homes to return to. … The well-documented belief by the army that the entire Ixil Indian population is pro-EGP has created a situation in which the army can be expected to give no quarter to combatants and non-combatants alike."

Rios Montt

In March 1982, Gen. Efrain Rios Montt seized power in a coup d’etat. An avowed fundamentalist Christian, he immediately impressed official Washington, where Reagan hailed Rios Montt as "a man of great personal integrity."

By July 1982, however, Rios Montt had begun a new scorched-earth campaign called his "rifles and beans" policy. The slogan meant that pacified Indians would get "beans," while all others could expect to be the target of army "rifles." In October, he secretly gave carte blanche to the feared “Archivos” intelligence unit to expand “death squad” operations.

The U.S. embassy was soon hearing more accounts of the army conducting Indian massacres. On Oct, 21, 1982, one cable described how three embassy officers tried to check out some of these reports but ran into bad weather and canceled the inspection. Still, the cable put a positive spin on the situation. Though unable to check out the massacre reports, the embassy officials did "reach the conclusion that the army is completely up front about allowing us to check alleged massacre sites and to speak with whomever we wish."

The next day, the embassy fired off an analysis that the Guatemalan government was the victim of a communist-inspired "disinformation campaign," a claim embraced by Reagan when he declared that the Guatemalan government was getting a "bum rap" on human rights after he met with Rios Montt in December 1982.

On Jan. 7, 1983, Reagan lifted the ban on military aid to Guatemala and authorized the sale of $6 million in military hardware. Approval covered spare parts for UH-1H helicopters and A-37 aircraft used in counterinsurgency operations. State Department spokesman John Hughes said political violence in the cities had "declined dramatically" and that rural conditions had improved too.

In February 1983, however, a secret CIA cable noted a rise in "suspect right-wing violence" with kidnappings of students and teachers. Bodies of victims were appearing in ditches and gullies. CIA sources traced these political murders to Rios Montt's order to the "Archivos" in October to "apprehend, hold, interrogate and dispose of suspected guerrillas as they saw fit."

Sugarcoating

Despite these grisly facts on the ground, the annual State Department human rights survey sugarcoated the facts for the American public and praised the supposedly improved human rights situation in Guatemala. "The overall conduct of the armed forces had improved by late in the year" 1982, the report stated.

A different picture -- far closer to the secret information held by the U.S. government -- was coming from independent human rights investigators. On March 17, 1983, Americas Watch representatives condemned the Guatemalan army for human rights atrocities against the Indian population.

New York attorney Stephen L. Kass said these findings included proof that the government carried out "virtually indiscriminate murder of men, women and children of any farm regarded by the army as possibly supportive of guerrilla insurgents."

Rural women suspected of guerrilla sympathies were raped before execution, Kass said. Children were "thrown into burning homes. They are thrown in the air and speared with bayonets. We heard many, many stories of children being picked up by the ankles and swung against poles so their heads are destroyed." [AP, March 17, 1983]

Publicly, however, senior Reagan officials continued to put on a happy face. On June 12, 1983, special envoy Richard B. Stone praised "positive changes" in Rios Montt's government. But Rios Montt’s vengeful Christian fundamentalism was hurtling out of control, even by Guatemalan standards. In August 1983, Gen. Oscar Mejia Victores seized power in another coup.

Despite the power shift, Guatemalan security forces continued to kill those who were deemed subversives or terrorists. When three Guatemalans working for the U.S. Agency for International Development were slain in November 1983, U.S. Ambassador Frederic Chapin suspected that “Archivos” hit squads were sending a message to the United States to back off even the mild pressure for human rights improvements.

In late November 1983, in a brief show of displeasure, the administration postponed the sale of $2 million in helicopter spare parts. The next month, however, Reagan sent the spare parts. In 1984, Reagan succeeded, too, in pressuring Congress to approve $300,000 in military training for the Guatemalan army.

By mid-1984, Chapin, who had grown bitter about the army’s stubborn brutality, was gone, replaced by a far-right political appointee named Alberto Piedra, who was all for increased military assistance to Guatemala.

In January 1985, Americas Watch issued a report observing that Reagan's State Department "is apparently more concerned with improving Guatemala's image than in improving its human rights."

Death Camp

Other examples of Guatemala’s “death squad” strategy came to light later. For example, a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency cable in 1994 reported that the Guatemalan military had used an air base in Retalhuleu during the mid-1980s as a center for coordinating the counterinsurgency campaign in southwest Guatemala – and for torturing and burying prisoners.

At the base, pits were filled with water to hold captured suspects. "Reportedly there were cages over the pits and the water level was such that the individuals held within them were forced to hold on to the bars in order to keep their heads above water and avoid drowning," the DIA report stated.

The Guatemalan military used the Pacific Ocean as another dumping spot for political victims, according to the DIA report. Bodies of insurgents tortured to death and live prisoners marked for “disappearance” were loaded onto planes that flew out over the ocean where the soldiers would shove the victims into the water to drown, a tactic that had been a favorite disposal technique of the Argentine military in the 1970s.

The history of the Retalhuleu death camp was uncovered by accident in the early 1990s when a Guatemalan officer wanted to let soldiers cultivate their own vegetables on a corner of the base. But the officer was taken aside and told to drop the request "because the locations he had wanted to cultivate were burial sites that had been used by the D-2 [military intelligence] during the mid-eighties," the DIA report said.

Guatemala, of course, was not the only Central American country where Reagan and his administration supported brutal counterinsurgency operations and then sought to cover up the bloody facts. Deception of the American public – a strategy that the administration internally called “perception management” – was as much a part of the Central American story as the Bush administration’s lies and distortions about weapons of mass destruction were to the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Reagan's falsification of the historical record became a hallmark of the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua as well as Guatemala. In one case, Reagan personally lashed out at a human rights investigator named Reed Brody, a New York lawyer who had collected affidavits from more than 100 witnesses to atrocities carried out by the U.S.-supported contras in Nicaragua.

Angered by the revelations about his contra "freedom-fighters," Reagan denounced Brody in a speech on April 15, 1985, calling him "one of dictator [Daniel] Ortega's supporters, a sympathizer who has openly embraced Sandinismo."

Privately, Reagan had a far more accurate understanding of the true nature of the contras. At one point in the contra war, Reagan turned to CIA official Duane Clarridge and demanded that the contras be used to destroy some Soviet-supplied helicopters that had arrived in Nicaragua. In his memoirs, Clarridge recalled that "President Reagan pulled me aside and asked, 'Dewey, can't you get those vandals of yours to do this job.'" [See Clarridge's A Spy for All Seasons.]

`Perception Management'

To manage U.S. perceptions of the wars in Central America, Reagan also authorized a systematic program of distorting information and intimidating American journalists. Called "public diplomacy," the project was run by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. The project's key operatives developed propaganda “themes,” selected “hot buttons” to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate, and bullied reporters who wouldn't go along.

The best-known attacks were directed against New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing Salvadoran army massacres of civilians, including the slaughter of some 800 men, women and children in El Mozote in December 1981. But Bonner was not alone. Reagan's operatives pressured scores of reporters and their editors in an ultimately successful campaign to minimize information about these human rights crimes reaching the American people. [For details, see Robert Parry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ or Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

The tamed reporters, in turn, gave the administration a far freer hand to pursue counterinsurgency operations in Central America. Despite the tens of thousands of civilian deaths and now-corroborated accounts of massacres and genocide, not a single senior military officer in Central America was given any significant punishment for the bloodshed, nor did any U.S. officials pay even a political price.

The U.S. officials who sponsored and encouraged these war crimes not only escaped legal judgment, but remain highly respected figures in Washington. Some have returned to senior government posts under George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Reagan has been honored as few recent presidents have with major public facilities named after him, including National Airport in Washington.

On Feb. 25, 1999, a Guatemalan truth commission issued a report on the staggering human rights crimes that Reagan and his administration had aided, abetted and concealed.

The Historical Clarification Commission, an independent human rights body, estimated that the Guatemalan conflict claimed the lives of some 200,000 people with the most savage bloodletting occurring in the 1980s. Based on a review of about 20 percent of the dead, the panel blamed the army for 93 percent of the killings and leftist guerrillas for three percent. Four percent were listed as unresolved.

The report documented that in the 1980s, the army committed 626 massacres against Mayan villages. "The massacres that eliminated entire Mayan villages … are neither perfidious allegations nor figments of the imagination, but an authentic chapter in Guatemala's history," the commission concluded.

The army "completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroyed their livestock and crops," the report said. In the northern highlands, the report termed the slaughter a "genocide." Besides carrying out murder and "disappearances," the army routinely engaged in torture and rape. "The rape of women, during torture or before being murdered, was a common practice" by the military and paramilitary forces, the report found.

The report added that the "government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some [of these] state operations." The report concluded that the U.S. government also gave money and training to a Guatemalan military that committed "acts of genocide" against the Mayans.

"Believing that the ends justified everything, the military and the state security forces blindly pursued the anticommunist struggle, without respect for any legal principles or the most elemental ethical and religious values, and in this way, completely lost any semblance of human morals," said the commission chairman, Christian Tomuschat, a German jurist.

"Within the framework of the counterinsurgency operations carried out between 1981 and 1983, in certain regions of the country agents of the Guatemalan state committed acts of genocide against groups of the Mayan people,” Tomuschat said.

During a visit to Central America, on March 10, 1999, President Bill Clinton apologized for the past U.S. support of right-wing regimes in Guatemala. "For the United States, it is important that I state clearly that support for military forces and intelligence units which engaged in violence and widespread repression was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake," Clinton said.

[Many of the declassified documents are posted on the Internet by the National Security Archive.]
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:57 am

:whisper: David Icke denies the Guatemalan Holocaust
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri May 10, 2013 10:05 pm



Former Guatemala dictator Rios Montt convicted of genocide

By Mike McDonald
GUATEMALA CITY | Fri May 10, 2013 9:43pm EDT
(Reuters) - Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country's 36-year civil war and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Hundreds of people who were packed into the courtroom burst into applause, chanting, "Justice!" as Rios Montt received a 50-year term for the genocide charge and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.

It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Rios Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and was accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels. He proclaimed his innocence in court.

"I feel happy. May no one else ever have to go through what I did. My community has been sad ever since this happened," said Elena de Paz, an ethnic Maya Ixil who was two years old in 1983 when soldiers stormed her village, killed her parents and burned her home.

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

He was tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a fraction of the number who died during his rule.

A throng outside the court chanted "Justice! Justice!" when the guilty verdicts were handed down on Friday.

"They convicted him, they convicted him. I can't believe it," said Marybel Bustamante, whose brother was 'disappeared,' a euphemism for kidnapped and murdered, the day that Rios Montt took power.

The human rights group Amnesty International hailed it as the trial of the decade.

'FULL KNOWLEDGE'

"He had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it," Judge Yasmin Barrios, who presided over the trial, told a packed courtroom where Mayan women wearing colorful traditional clothes and head-dresses closely followed proceedings.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu was among them.

"Today we are happy, because for many years it was said that genocide was a lie, but today the court said it was true," she said.

Barrios called a hearing for Monday to discuss compensation for the victims of Rios Montt's rule.

Rios Montt's intelligence director, Jose Rodriguez Sanchez, also stood trial, but he was acquitted on both charges.

During the trial, which began on March 19, nearly 100 prosecution witnesses told of massacres, torture and rape by state forces. At one point, the trial hung in the balance when a dispute broke out between two judges over who should hear the case.

Rios Montt denied the charges in court on Thursday, saying he never ordered genocide and had no control over battlefield operations.

"I am innocent," he told the courtroom, sporting thick glasses and a gray mustache. "I never had the intent to destroy any national ethnic group.

"I have never ordered genocide," he added, saying he took over a "failing" Guatemala in 1982 that was completely bankrupt and full of "subversive guerrillas."

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan provided support for Rios Montt's government and said in late 1982 that the dictator was getting a "bum rap" from rights groups for his military campaign against left-wing guerrillas during the Cold War.

He also once called Rios Montt "a man of great personal integrity".

Defense attorneys said earlier they would appeal if Rios Montt was convicted. They argued that prosecution witnesses had no credibility, that specific ethnic groups were not targeted under Rios Montt's 17-month rule and that the war pitted belligerents of the same ethnic group against one another.

DIVISIVE CONFLICT

Rios Montt has been under house arrest for more than a year. The right-wing party that he founded changed its name this year to distance itself from its past.

Guatemala's civil war ended with peace accords signed in 1996 but the Central American nation remains a deeply divided society with very poor indigenous areas.

President Otto Perez, a former army general during the civil war, says he was part of a group of captains that stood up to Rios Montt.

Declassified U.S. documents from the civil war years suggest Perez was one of the Guatemalan army's most progressive officers and that he played a key role in an ensuing peace process.

But Perez was himself implicated in war crimes during the trial when one prosecution witness testified that soldiers under his command had burned down homes and executed civilians during Rios Montt's rule.

Perez has argued that genocide did not take place during the war, underlining the divisions that persist in Guatemala over the conflict, which pitted leftist insurgents against a string of right-wing governments.

Perez, who took office in 2012, is the first military man to run the country since the war ended, and rights groups were concerned he could interfere with human rights trials.

Courts in Guatemala have only recently begun prosecutions for atrocities committed during the conflict.

Until August 2011, when four soldiers received 6,060-year prison sentences for mass killings in the northern village of Dos Erres in 1982, no convictions had been handed down for massacres carried out during the war.

A judge who initially presided over pre-trial hearings cast a new shadow of doubt over the Rios Montt case on Friday when she confirmed a decision she had announced on April 18 to wind back proceedings to November 2011, and void all developments since then.

Prosecutors insist that decision is illegal and are preparing legal challenges to the ruling, while defense attorneys have argued that the decision is binding and the trial should never have proceeded.
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby FourthBase » Sat May 11, 2013 12:38 pm

Cleveland, this, the Boston masterminds having their pants down...
Lot of good news, lately. Really, really good news. Anti-evil news.
This takes the cake. 200,000...my god. What a monster.
Those brave and beleaguered people...they won.
(Today, at least. But maybe tomorrow, too.)

Hallelujah.
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed May 15, 2013 11:01 am

Published on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Common Dreams
An Open Letter to the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala
by MADRE
Image
Efrain Rios Montt (Fot. JORGE DAN LOPEZ REUTERS)
The international human rights community has been watching for months as former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was brought to trial, thirty years after he led a genocide against Guatemala’s Indigenous Ixil Peoples.

We at MADRE were watching when the courtroom erupted into a three-ring circus, over and over, as lawyers walked out, as judges insisted that the trial was illegal, as the man who inflicted mass killings and rapes upon the people of Guatemala insisted that he was innocent.

We were watching closely just days ago as Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

While we watched, we remembered all the times we have visited our sister organizations in their communities, sitting with them in their homes and hearing the horrors that they faced. This trial finally confirmed for the whole world Rios Montt’s role in orchestrating months of terror and attempting to destroy the Ixil People.

This measure of justice, more than thirty years after those dark days, is long overdue.

We know that this verdict cannot heal the wounds that you have suffered. It will not bring back the loved ones you have lost. It will not rebuild the communities that were torn apart and the homes that were destroyed.

You stood tall and demanded to be heard, through years when it seemed that the world would not listen.

But every day, by surviving and supporting each other, you are restoring your lives and your communities, your histories and your culture.

Your commitment to justice made this victory possible. You refused to be silenced, even when powerful forces tried to intimidate and threaten you. You refused to be ridiculed or dismissed. You stood tall and demanded to be heard, through years when it seemed that the world would not listen.

This verdict is thanks to your determination to prevent these atrocities from ever happening again, to protect your children and grandchildren, and to give them a future.

To every person among the hundreds who bravely testified before the court, telling of the brutality they witnessed and endured, and to the thousands more whose stories we have not yet heard, we offer our deepest honor and respect.

Efrain Rios Montt did not act alone. He had an accomplice in the Reagan Administration. The US considered him an ally, not only refusing to acknowledge the massacres occurring under his regime, but offering him moral and military support. We are committed to speak out against this injustice and to demand full accountability.

We celebrate this victory, and we offer you our solidarity in the days to come. We will stand beside you and join our voices to yours in the ongoing call for justice, even across the distances that separate us.



How's hell going for ya Ronnie? Or have you been reincarnated as a puppy in a puppy mill?
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby ShinShinKid » Wed May 15, 2013 11:20 am

Now things should get interesting. I expect a pardon from the current president, who served in his own capacity during the genocidal purges.
Well played, God. Well played".
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu May 23, 2013 5:31 pm

Nairn said, “The U.S. had also arranged for Israel to step in and become the principal supplier of hardware to the Guatemalan army, in particular assault rifles, the Galil automatic rifle. This was because the administration was running into problems with Congress, which wouldn’t go along with a lot of their plans to aid the Guatemalan military, so they did an end run by using the government of Israel.”

Israel’s Hand in Guatemala’s Genocide
May 23, 2013
Exclusive: The Guatemalan genocide of the 1980s does not just implicate President Ronald Reagan and his senior aides but the Israeli government which secretly supplied helicopters, guns and computers that were used to hunt down and exterminate Ixil Indians and other perceived enemies of the state, reports Robert Parry.


By Robert Parry

At the height of Guatemala’s mass slaughters in the 1980s, including genocide against the Ixil Indians, the Reagan administration worked with Israeli officials to provide helicopters that the Guatemalan army used to hunt down fleeing villagers, according to documentary and eyewitness evidence.

During testimony at the recent genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, one surprise was how often massacre survivors cited the Army’s use of helicopters in the scorched-earth offensives.


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (Photo credit: Jim Wallace of the Smithsonian Institution)
Journalist Allan Nairn, who covered the war in Guatemala and attended the Rios Montt trial, said in an interview, “one interesting thing that came out in the trial, as witness after witness testified, was a very substantial number of them talked about fleeing into the mountains and being bombed, attacked and machine gunned from U.S. planes and helicopters.

“At the time this was going on, I was aware this was happening in some cases, but from the testimony of the witnesses, it sounded like these attacks from U.S. planes and helicopters were more frequent than we realized at the time. That’s an example of how we don’t know the whole story yet – how extensive the U.S. complicity was in these crimes.”

Part of the mystery was where did Guatemala’s UH-1H “Huey” helicopters come from, since the U.S. Congress continued to resist military sales to Guatemala because of its wretched human rights record. The answer appears to be that some helicopters were arranged secretly by President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff through Israeli intelligence networks.

Rios Montt began pressing the United States for 10 UH-1H helicopters in June 1983, as his military campaign was ramping up. Since Guatemala lacked the U.S. Foreign Military Sales credits or the cash to buy the helicopters, Reagan’s national security team looked for unconventional ways to arrange the delivery of the equipment.

On Aug. 1, 1983, NSC aides Oliver North and Alfonso Sapia-Bosch reported to National Security Advisor William P. Clark that his deputy Robert “Bud” McFarlane was planning to exploit his Israeli channels to secure the helicopters for Guatemala, according to a document that I discovered at Reagan’s presidential library.

“With regard to the loan of ten helicopters, it is [our] understanding that Bud will take this up with the Israelis,” wrote North and Sapia-Bosch. “There are expectations that they would be forthcoming. Another possibility is to have an exercise with the Guatemalans. We would then use US mechanics and Guatemalan parts to bring their helicopters up to snuff.”

By then, McFarlane had a long and intimate relationship with Israeli intelligence involving various backdoor deals. [For more on McFarlane's Israeli channels, see Consortiumnews.com's "How Neocons Messed Up the Mideast."]

Israeli Channel

McFarlane’s approach to Israel for the helicopters was successful, according to former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who described some of the history behind Israel’s activities in Guatemala in his 1992 memoir, Profits of War.

Ben-Menashe traced the Israeli arms sales to Guatemala back to a private network established in the 1970s by Gen. Ariel Sharon during a gap when he was out of the government. Sharon’s key representative in Guatemala was a businessman named Pesach Ben-Or, and through that channel, Israel supplied military gear to Guatemala’s security services in the 1980s, Ben-Menashe wrote.

In an interview on Thursday, Ben-Menashe said the Israelis supplied a total of six helicopters to the Guatemalans along with computers and software to keep track of alleged subversives who could then be identified and executed. Ben-Menashe said he learned of the mass slaughters during his travels to Guatemala and reported back to his Israeli superiors about the atrocities involving the equipment that they had authorized. The response, he said, was concern but inaction.

“They weren’t for killing these people, not at all,” Ben-Menashe said. “But they thought their interest was to help the Reagan people. If the Reagan people wanted it [the equipment sent to Guatemala], they would do it. [They thought,] ‘this is bad, but is it any of our business? Our American friends are asking for our help, so we should help them.’”

After our phone interview had ended, Ben-Menashe called me back to stress that the Israelis were unaware of the genocidal nature of the Guatemalan military campaigns against the Ixil Indians, although the Israelis did recognize that they were assisting in mass murders of dark-skinned Guatemalans.

“As we saw it, they [Guatemalan military authorities] were targeting all non-white villagers who were sitting on fertile lands that the white Guatemalans wanted,” he said, adding that when he reported this information to his superiors, “the Israelis rolled their eyes [in dismay] but said, ‘this is what our friends in the Reagan administration want.’” [For more on Ben-Menashe's work for Israeli intelligence, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege and America's Stolen Narrative.]

Besides the helicopters for hunting down villagers who fled into the jungles, the computer equipment and the sophisticated software made the Guatemalan killing machine vastly more efficient in the towns and cities. A former U.S. Green Beret operating in Guatemala once told me that he witnessed Guatemalan security forces stopping buses and inputting identification numbers of the passengers into a computer to select those who would be dragged off to the side of the road and summarily shot.

Death Lists

From first-hand reporting in Guatemala, journalist Nairn also observed the security advantages gained from detailed death lists. Nairn said soldiers under Gen. Otto Perez Molina, the current president, “described how they would go into town armed with death lists provided them by G2 military intelligence, death lists of people who were suspected of being collaborators of the guerrillas or critics of the army.

“They told how they would strangle people with lassos, slit women open with machetes, shoot people in the head in front of the neighbors, use U.S. planes, helicopters and 50 gram bombs to attack people if they fled into the hills.”

Nairn said, “The U.S. had also arranged for Israel to step in and become the principal supplier of hardware to the Guatemalan army, in particular assault rifles, the Galil automatic rifle. This was because the administration was running into problems with Congress, which wouldn’t go along with a lot of their plans to aid the Guatemalan military, so they did an end run by using the government of Israel.”

Though the focus of the case against Rios Montt has been the genocide inflicted on Ixil villages in the northern highlands – where some 626 villages were eradicated by the Guatemalan military – those massacres were only part of the estimated 200,000 killings perpetrated by right-wing Guatemalan regimes since a CIA-sponsored coup ousted an elected government in 1954.

The bloodbath was at its worst in the 1980s during Ronald Reagan’s presidency as he encouraged the anti-leftist slaughters that claimed the lives of some 100,000 Guatemalans. Reagan expanded his support for the Guatemalan security forces even though the CIA was keeping his administration informed of the systematic killings underway.

Another document that I discovered in the archives of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, revealed that Reagan and his national security team in 1981 agreed to supply military aid to Guatemala’s dictators so they could pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but people associated with their “civilian support mechanisms.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide.”]

As for Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala for 17 especially bloody months in 1982-83, the 86-year-old ex-general was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity by a criminal court on May 10 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

But that conviction was overturned on Monday on a 3-2 vote by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court which is still dominated by allies of the military and the oligarchy. As for the Reagan administration officials and the Israelis who aided and abetted Rios Montt and his fellow generals, there is no indication that any accountability will be exacted.


Genocide conviction of Rios Montt overturned in Guatemala — for now
Guatemala's highest court has overturned the genocide conviction of former leader Efrain Rios Montt.


MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt's conviction for genocide was overturned and his trial must begin anew starting from the point in mid-April when a dispute started over which judge should hear the case, the country's highest court said Monday.

A lower sentencing court convicted 86-year-old Rios Montt on May 10 of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison — a landmark ruling for the Central American country whose decades-long civil war left deep scars.

As ruler from 1982 to 1983, one of the war's bloodiest periods, Rios Montt was held responsible for the deaths, rape and displacement of scores of indigenous Mayan Ixil people.

A co-defendant, former intelligence chief Gen. Jose Mauricio Rodriguez, was acquitted.

Many advocates for the Mayan Ixil group applauded the guilty verdict, but Guatemala's business leaders and those loyal to Rios Montt and the military decried the verdict.

More form GlobalPost: Lessons from Guatemala on how to catch a dictator

However, the Constitutional Court threw out the conviction over legal irregularities.

Rios Montt briefly went without legal defense when his lawyer was expelled from the courtroom for challenging a judge on April 19. That led to a drawn-out dispute over which judge should hear the case.

The high court said the trial must begin again from where it stood on April 19. It did not say, however, whether Rios Montt or his co-defendant Rodriguez are guilty or innocent.

Nevertheless, new decision has once again shaken Guatemalans and those who have watched the trial closely for months.

"This ruling is a devastating blow for the victims of the serious human rights violations committed during the conflict," said Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International's researcher on Guatemala.

But those protesting the ruling should realize new proceedings could again find Rios Montt guilty, leading Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre said in an editorial Tuesday.

"What happened yesterday [Monday] doesn't necessarily mean the trial is stopped," it said.

Prosecutors now are likely to present appeals to the Constitutional Court's decision. The trial could restart, or be finished.

After the May 10 sentence, Rios Montt spent three days in prison before he was moved to a military hospital. Now he is being remanded to house arrest.

Rios Montt took power in a coup in 1982 and ruled Guatemala for 17 months, during which time the army launched a "scorched earth" campaign against Maya villagers suspected of aiding Marxist guerrillas.

As many as 250,000 people may have died during the Guatemalan civil war, which raged from 1960 to 1996.

The current trial concerns the documented massacre of nearly 1,800 Ixil Maya villagers during that period. Rios Montt testified that he knew nothing of the slaughter.

Though condemned by many for the slaughter under his leadership, Rios Montt, an avowed evangelical Christian, remains popular with many conservative Guatemalans, including the country's powerful business elite.  

In 1999, former US President Bill Clinton made a public apology for past Washington administrations' support for Guatemala's military regimes.

Yet the United States' role in toppling Guatemala's democratically elected government in 1954, and helping train and finance the country's authoritarian campaign to crush suspected communists for decades to follow, were left out of the trial.

“For a long time we have wanted justice and this is good,” said Ixil rape victim Elena de Paz, who testified against Rios Montt, in a GlobalPost interview.

“He won’t suffer like we did," she added, reflecting on Rios Montt's fate. "He was able to defend himself with lawyers before a panel of judges, but the justice he did to us was with sticks and machetes. He will never feel that.”

Dudley Althaus contributed reporting from Mexico City. Follow him on Twitter @dqalthaus. Mike McDonald contributed reporting from Guatemala City
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
on trump/russia
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The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby FourthBase » Thu May 23, 2013 5:47 pm

Ugh. Well, that didn't last long. May his conviction be upheld.

Also, re: Reagan and Israel...ugh.
Every which way one looks...evil.
Lesser, greater, blatant, secret...
Evil for its own sake, or to fight other evil...

It's still...evil.

Down with evil.
Long live good.
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that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.” - Bill Russell
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby Sounder » Thu May 23, 2013 8:53 pm

sick,sick,sick


A former U.S. Green Beret operating in Guatemala once told me that he witnessed Guatemalan security forces stopping buses and inputting identification numbers of the passengers into a computer to select those who would be dragged off to the side of the road and summarily shot.
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Re: Guatemala's Former Leader Charged/Genocide P Roberts Ena

Postby Luther Blissett » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:15 pm

"This American Life" Whitewashes U.S. Crimes in Central America, Wins Peabody Award

Keane Bhatt
Manufacturing Contempt
July 29, 2013

Celebrating 2012’s best examples of broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody Awards attracted the likes of D.L. Hughley, Amy Poehler and Bryant Gumbel to the Waldorf-Astoria’s four-story grand ballroom in New York this past May. In a gaudy ceremony hosted by CBS star-anchor Scott Pelley, National Public Radio’s This American Life received the industry’s oldest and perhaps most prestigious accolade. The 16-member Peabody Board, consisting of “television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts,” had selected a particular This American Life episode—“What Happened at Dos Erres”—as one of the winners of its 72nd annual awards on the basis of “only one criterion: excellence.”

This American Life’s host Ira Glass had once conceived of the weekly show, which reaches 1.8 million listeners each episode, as an experiment to do “the most idealistic, wide-eyed things that can do…to provide a perspective on this country that you couldn’t get elsewhere.” As is typical for the program, Glass weaved personal narratives and anecdotes together with broader context in “What Happened at Dos Erres,” which focused on a 1982 massacre of 250 Guatemalan civilians at the hands of their government’s elite military commandos—the Kaibiles.

But in his hour-long treatment of a savage period of Guatemalan history, Glass and his producers edited out essential lines of inquiry and concealed a key aspect of the bloodshed and its import for U.S. listeners: Washington’s continuous support of Guatemalan security forces—including the Kaibiles at Dos Erres—as they killed tens of thousands of largely indigenous civilians­ in 1982 alone. Moreover, by distorting the historical record, Glass performed an impressive feat of propaganda—he sensitively related Guatemalan victims’ harrowing personal stories while implying that the only fault of the United States was that it had simply not done enough to help them.

Ironically, “What Happened at Dos Erres” accomplished Glass’s longstanding goal of providing a perspective on the United States “that you couldn’t get elsewhere.” One would be hard-pressed to encounter another contemporary mainstream account of that period so thoroughly sanitized of Washington’s involvement in crimes against humanity.

During his brief 17-month rule from 1982-83, Guatemalan military dictator Efraín Rios Montt escalated to its grim apogee the state terror regularly employed during a decades-long attack on leftist insurgents, suspected sympathizers, and Mayan communities. This American Life correctly described the directives of the Army High Command’s scorched-earth campaign, in which soldiers burned farmland and homes, slaughtered animals, raped and mutilated women and children, and exterminated entire communities like the hamlet of Dos Erres. Glass concluded that state-led massacres “happened in over 600 villages” and added that an overall accounting of the larger conflict by “a truth commission found that the number of Guatemalans killed or disappeared by their own government was over 180,000.”

Glass did not mention, however, that the very same UN-sponsored truth commission also concluded in its 1999 report that the “government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some state operations” involved in atrocities like Dos Erres. (Both The Washington Post and PBS reported this particular finding at the time.)

*

Notwithstanding This American Life’s omission, the extent of U.S. criminality in Guatemala is astonishing, as is the abundance of publicly available evidence of it. Beginning with a Central Intelligence Agency-organized coup that overthrew Guatemala’s reformist democrat, President Jacobo Arbenz, in 1954, the United States played a dominant and closely documented role in the horrors that ripped the country apart over 40 years, throughout a long chain of dictatorships.

Between 1956-61, for example, the United States trained over 600 Guatemalan military officers either on U.S. soil or within the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone. By 1963, U.S. advisors were providing expertise in domestic surveillance and crowd control, while Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edwin Martin, in an internal document, lauded the “encouraging progress toward [the] establishment of an effective counter-subversive intelligence apparatus.”

With the help of security adviser John Longan of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Public Safety, that apparatus developed into Operación Limpieza. New York University historian and Guatemala expert Greg Grandin describes the program, created in 1966, as a consolidation of “the operations of the police and military” that allowed them to “gather, analyze, and act on intelligence in a coordinated and rapid manner” with the aid of “state-of-the-art telecommunications and surveillance equipment.” Among its first successes were the tortures and murders of dozens of leftist leaders over a three-day period in March 1966—Operación Limpieza quickly became, according to Grandin, the “cornerstone” of Guatemala’s state repression.

In September of that year, the U.S. embassy hailed Operación Limpieza’s head, Colonel Rafael Arriaga Bosque, as one of Guatemala’s “most effective and enlightened leaders”; by October 1966, he would help carry out the country’s first scorched-earth campaign, massacring eight thousand. U.S. planners were fully aware of the consequences of their ongoing assistance: in a 1968 State Department memo, Longan frankly conceded that Guatemalan security forces “will be continued to be used, as in the past, not so much as protectors of the nation against communist enslavement, but as the oligarchy’s oppressors of legitimate social change.”

Successive U.S. presidents avoided publicly labeling Guatemala a gross violator of human rights for fear that “it would be too difficult to clear a country of such a label once given,” thereby jeopardizing the resumption of military aid, according to State Department officials cited in a 1986 U.S. General Accounting Office report. Nevertheless, under Jimmy Carter’s presidency in 1977, Congress enacted a ban on military assistance to Guatemala. The legislation allowed for a loophole, however: it “did not prevent government arms deliveries previously under contract or commercial export of munitions,” the GAO found.

“While the Carter Administration at least implicitly recognized that Guatemala was a gross human rights violator,” wrote Tanya Broder and Bernard D. Lambek in the Yale Journal of International Law in 1988, “President Reagan’s desire to supply the Guatemalan military [with arms and training]” dealt a coup de grâce to any efficacy of Congressional prohibitions.

By 1982, U.S.-allied proxies such as Israel and Taiwan were tasked with arming Guatemala’s counterinsurgency forces, successfully circumventing U.S. restrictions. The CIA under Reagan also provided regular payments to top Guatemalan military leaders, and the administration illegally deployed advisers to teach Guatemalan cadets “anything our Army has,” according to Green Beret Jesse Garcia, who had arrived in the country months before the Dos Erres massacre. As reported by investigative journalist Allan Nairn, this included “ambushes, surveillance, combat arms, artillery, armor, patrolling, demolition and helicopter assault tactics.” Quoting Garcia, Nairn wrote that the United States provided expertise in “how to destroy towns.”*

On the evening of December 4, 1982, just two days before the Guatemalan Kaibil commandos would initiate their Dos Erres operation, Reagan addressed reporters at an Air Force base in Honduras regarding a “useful exchange of ideas” he had just had with Rios Montt. “I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice,” he declared. “The United States is committed to support his efforts to restore democracy,” he said in reference to the coup perpetrator, and “my administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.”

In a question-and-answer period, Reagan also dismissed accusations of human rights violations committed by Rios Montt and his military: “Frankly I'm inclined to believe they've been getting a bum rap,” he protested. It has long since been clear that with these kinds of comments, the Reagan administration was deliberately obscuring Guatemala’s record of atrocities.

After all, following his 1980 election, two retired military leaders involved in his campaign reportedly told the Guatemalan military that “Mr. Reagan recognizes that a good deal of dirty work has to be done.” According to national-security documents unearthed by investigative journalist Robert Parry at the Reagan Library, the United States knew of Guatemala’s longstanding efforts to annihilate leftists’ “civilian support mechanisms.” And nine days before Reagan downplayed allegations of Rios Montt’s criminality for journalists, a State Department report noted, “our Embassy recently informed us of a new, apparently well-founded allegation of a large-scale killing of Indian men, women and children in a remote area by the Guatemalan Army.”

*

Given Reagan and Rios Montt’s close collaboration, along with a Guatemalan judge’s finding of “sufficient evidence tying Rios Montt to the Las Dos Erres massacre,” it seemed obvious that This American Life would touch upon Reagan’s culpability in the course of an hour-long episode dedicated to the atrocity. Indeed, Glass appeared to indicate a willingness to do so, when early in the program he boasted:

OK, before we dive into this story, just a quick history review. Now, I myself was the kind of insufferable, politically correct person who was obsessed with Latin America back in the 1980s. I called Nicaragua “Neek-ar-ah-wah,” and actually went to Nicaragua for a month during the fifth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. I traveled in Guatemala during the civil war. You, however, might be what we call a normal person and didn't do any of that.


Yet Glass’s history review for “normal people” completely excluded U.S. involvement in violations of international humanitarian law, despite the on-air appearance of researcher Kate Doyle of the National Security Archives, who specializes in declassified U.S. documents. He introduced her early in the episode and focused on an inane line of questioning regarding her personal “list of the ranking of most f’ed up countries” in Central America. As she related to me by phone, the program scrapped much of the rest of her in-studio discussion, in which she highlighted Washington’s participation in atrocities.

In its zeal to avoid all mention of active U.S. assistance in Dos Erres, This American Life also excluded content from its own media partner, ProPublica, which published a written article that coincided with the radio program. ProPublica’s account highlighted the case of Kaibil sergeant Pedro Pimentel, sentenced in 2012 to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the atrocities. Directly after the operation, he was spirited away by helicopter from Dos Erres to the School of the Americas, the U.S. military's infamous training center for Latin American security forces, where he went on to serve as an instructor. (The School of the Americas had trained Rios Montt in 1950, and would in 1985 train Guatemala’s current president Otto Pérez Molina, who, as a Kaibil field commander, likely committed atrocities himself.)

When asked about such omissions by email, Glass replied, “I certainly know that history,” and admitted that he had talked “to Kate Doyle about U.S. participation in Guatemala.” Nonetheless, he and his co-producers “decided not to get into that in the program simply because we felt like we were throwing a lot of facts and history at our listeners and were worried about how much people could absorb.” He added, “It was a judgment call. And maybe we made the wrong call.”

Retrospection aside, his answer was disingenuous. While it was true that the words “Reagan,” “Jacobo Arbenz,” “School of the Americas” or “CIA” were never uttered in the hour-long broadcast, Glass and his co-producers did not simply omit context. They went one step further, by affirmatively—and falsely—framing the U.S. government as a negligent bystander whose only sin was a reluctance to speak out.

He claimed in the episode, for example, that “Embassy officials heard lots of reports about the Army massacring whole villages throughout Guatemala, which they dismissed,” until, “at the urging of the State Department back in Washington,” they went to “see for themselves if the stories were true.” This American Life’s harshest indictment is that, despite years of repeated massacres after Dos Erres, “the U.S. knew about it but stood by.”

If Glass worried about inundating listeners with too many facts, I asked in a follow-up email, “why did you introduce the factual claim that ‘the U.S. knew about [the ongoing killings] but stood by?’” And how could this characterization possibly be reconciled with his previous email’s description of “U.S. participation” in war crimes?

Glass did not respond.

*

In October 2011, Barack Obama echoed Reagan’s soaring, mendacious, 30-year-old script for his Central American ally. Having invited Honduran President Porfirio Lobo to the White House, Obama thanked him for his “strong commitment to democracy and leadership.” Lobo’s “restoration of democratic practices and a commitment to reconciliation,” said Obama, gave him “great hope.” It would have been impolite, of course, to publicly acknowledge that Lobo had presided over state security forces, trained and financed with millions of U.S.-taxpayer dollars annually, that had killed and continue to kill Honduran civilians as a matter of routine.

Given This American Life’s conformity to official U.S. doctrine regarding Guatemala, it was to be expected that a subsequent half-hour segment on Honduras titled “Some Like It Dot,” which aired in early 2013, would in no way upset the official narrative set by President Obama. The episode predictably excluded crucial, if inconvenient, political context as it centered on the attempt to develop “charter cities” in Honduras—swaths of land to be ceded to international investors and developed into autonomous cities, with their own police forces, taxes, labor codes, trade rules, and legal systems.

Although the show dutifully included a warning by Princeton economist Angus Deaton, who described charter cities as a “reintroduction of colonialism,” This American Life nonetheless enthusiastically portrayed the messianic vision of University of Chicago-trained economist Paul Romer as an exciting solution to Honduran “corruption and chaos and violence.”

That very “corruption and chaos and violence,” This American Life failed to inform its listeners, exploded as a result of a 2009 coup d’etat against the country’s left-leaning, democratically elected leader, President Manuel Zelaya. Strong circumstantial evidence implicates the United States in his ouster. The early-morning plane that spirited the pajama-attired president and his family to Costa Rica, for example, stopped to refuel at the U.S. military base of Palmerola. U.S. officials also acknowledged that they were in discussions with the Honduran military (many of whose leaders were trained at the School of the Americas) up until the very day it deposed Zelaya.

What is known beyond any doubt is Washington’s vigorous efforts in 2009 to bolster the coup government of Roberto Micheletti, and to legitimize the repressive sham elections held under that regime. With the dubious transfer of power from Micheletti to Porfirio Lobo in 2010, the ultimate success of Zelaya’s removal was guaranteed. Unsurprisingly, neither the coup, its consequences, nor Washington’s involvement appeared in This American Life’s episode.

Other than Romer, the episode’s main protagonist was Lobo’s chief of staff, Octavio Sánchez. Besides being the leading Honduran advocate for charter cities, Sánchez was one of the most strident champions of the coup. Writing in The Christian Science Monitor just days after the elected president was removed from the country at gunpoint, Sánchez characterized the event as “nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law,” and urged readers not to “believe the coup myth.” This American Life could not be bothered to point out this fact, or Sánchez’s profound cynicism, preferring instead to describe him as the country’s idealistic “national dreamer.”

In his defense, Ira Glass wrote by email: “What interested our…reporters in that story was the relationship between Octavio Sanchez and Paul Romer, and what it said about the ability of outsiders to come into a country with a development scheme like Romer was suggesting.” Though he claimed his reporters “were well aware of the broader politics of Honduras,” This American Life wanted nothing to do with it. “I think another reporter could make a totally interesting and valid story going into more of the politics you’re talking about, but that simply wasn’t the focus of what we were doing.”

By coding the crux of the debate around charter cities as extraneous “politics,” Glass was able to evade it. But the fact remains: the imposition of “development schemes” by “outsiders” on Honduras would be considered impossible if the overthrow of its democratically elected leader and the resulting decimation of its sovereignty had not occurred.

In response to Glass’s attempt to narrowly circumscribe “the focus of what we were doing,” I raised another question: if Octavio Sánchez’s vigorous coup defense was too far afield from This American Life’s preferred subject matter, was it relevant to the show’s narrative that the most prominent Honduran opponent of charter cities, Antonio Trejo, was murdered in a death-squad-style assassination in September 2012?

Yet again, Glass remained silent.

*

In the 1980s, when U.S. officials were most viciously engaged in Central America’s political violence, they could rely on media outlets as their reliable partners. Journalist Allan Nairn noted in a 1999 interview with Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting that during the period of Guatemalan genocide, “the big corporate press in the U.S. was not covering the U.S. role at all”—it was “barely covering the fact that the mass killings were taking place.” So in addition to condemning the U.S. government, he concluded that “the press also has blood on its hands.”

This American Life’s “What Happened at Dos Erres” mimicked some of the most propagandistic media behaviors of the 1980s. Its producers prohibited even a single sentence from reaching millions of U.S. listeners regarding the murderous policies of their own elected officials, executed with their tax dollars and in their name. It also bolstered the specious intellectual framework for greater U.S. intervention throughout the world on “humanitarian” grounds, by inventing the historical figment that the United States “stood by” in the face of Guatemalan violence. Months later, with remarkable continuity, This American Life concealed for U.S. listeners their relationship to the seemingly far-flung and senseless violence of Honduras.

This American Life’s journalistic misconduct is manifold: First, Ira Glass unreservedly acknowledged that both he and his co-producers were fully aware of the politics of both Guatemala and Honduras. Second, he clearly stated that they deliberately chose to omit them for their U.S. audience (and in the case of Guatemala, they disseminated a pure fabrication). Third, their motivation for suppressing the U.S. government’s hand in the barbarity of the two countries stems from either a disdain for their listeners—Glass condescendingly “worried about how much [history and facts] people could absorb”—or from their willingness to perpetuate Washington’s flattering self-image.

Whatever This American Life’s rationale may be, its two episodes on Central America prove that Glass’s earlier aspiration to do “the most idealistic, wide-eyed things that journalism can do” has been extinguished. Given the generalized dishonesty of the U.S. media and intellectual class, it’s no surprise that Peabody’s “experts in culture and the arts” rewarded the show for its excellence. But this accolade should not distract anyone from the reality that This American Life’s compelling storytelling can in no way be confused with ethical journalism.

* Allan Nairn, "Despite Ban, U.S. Captain Trains Guatemalan Military," Washington Post, October 21, 1982, page 1

Update (7/29): I spoke with the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting on its weekly radio program CounterSpin about This American Life's coverage of Central America. My segment can be listened to here. Our conversation touched upon the excellent work of Kevin Young in the latest NACLA Report on the Americas. His piece, "Washing U.S. Hands of the Dirty Wars: News Coverage Erases Washington’s Role in State Terror," contextualizes the broader trends of the establishment media: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio reported on U.S. support for Latin American dictatorships in only 6% of their coverage from 2008-2013.

Keane Bhatt is an activist in Washington, D.C. He has worked in the United States and Latin America on a variety of campaigns related to community development and social justice. His analyses and opinions have appeared in a range of outlets, including NPR.org, The Nation, The St. Petersburg Times, and CNN En Español. He is the author of the NACLA blog “Manufacturing Contempt,” which critically analyzes the U.S. press and its portrayal of the hemisphere. Connect with his blog on Twitter: @KeaneBhatt
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