Efraín Ríos Montt

President of Guatemala

Overview of Ríos Montt

Despite him being president for just over a year (March 23, 1982 - August 8, 1983), he has had a tremendous impact on Guatemala during its civil war. He was heavily involved in the military academy, and eventually had led a coup d'état against the newly elected General Ángel Aníbal Guevara. He immediately put himself in charge of the government, which was actually welcomed, as the voting corruption had escalated, and anything was seen as better. He completely ignored the constitution and began a campaign against political opposition. Later, the "frijoles y fusiles" (beans and guns) campaign was started, which essentially identified and executed people (mostly those in rural areas) who were "against" government, even if they really weren't. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people were killed or reported missing at a rate of 3,000 people per month at one point.
Ríos Montt se declara inocente de genocidio
Ríos Montt is shown pleading not guilty to the charges of genocide presented to him in court for his guerilla warfare against the leftist party members and other people opposed to him. Despite the video being in Spanish, one can observe the way he presents his plea, and is quite showing of how convincing he wants to come across in court. This can also be applied to what type of ruler he was, as he tried to trick hus citizens into thinking they are living the best way possible, despite opening secret tribunals and essentially enlisting fear into those who opposed Montt himself.

A Letter to Amnesty International From the Citizens of Guatemala

President Efraín Ríos Montt has shown himself to be a real monster in our country's government. He has basically ripped up our constitution, brought fear into the lives of thousands, and forced people to choose sides politically. This on top of Guatemala's civil war and overall government corruption to begin with is very overwhelming and downright dangerous for the people of the country. We are asking for any help we can get, as we have already attempted 2 military coups to get him out of office, however they have failed. The crimes he has committed against our people are too large to ignore.

Essential Question

Was Efraín Ríos Montt the best alternative during Guatemala's civil war, time of voting fraud and government corruption?