Guatemala: Will Justice Be Done?

Between 1990 and 2009 there were some sixty-seven prosecutions of heads of state or heads of government for human rights abuses or corruption, or both, a far greater number than ever before. Yet the trial of former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt, who served as president of Guatemala from the time of his military coup in March 1982 until he was forced out in August 1983, was unique. For the first time, a former head of state was tried for genocide in the courts of his own country. In effect, the prosecution of Ríos Montt also condemned the policies of the Reagan administration, which was a resolute apologist for the Guatemalan dictator.

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