Efrain Rios Montt

By Brayden Reichenbach

"In a historic verdict, former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt has been sentenced to 80 years in prison after being found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. " -Democracy Now
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José Efraín Ríos Montt "The General"

This murderous, infamous Guatemalan leader was quick to get himself involved in his country when he joined the army, becoming a young officer in 1954. He rose through the ranks to become a brigadier general and the army's chief of staff in 1970. He gained power through a military coup in 1982, in the middle of Guatemala's 36 year civil war. Along with his power came widespread human rights abuses including massacres, rape, torture, and acts of genocide against the indigenous mayan people. During the civil war, Montt had close ties to the United States, which gave him aid to fight against the opposition guerillas.Montt's Regime was responsible in some of the worst atrocities of Guatemala's bloody war. He killed around 200,000 Mayan natives. As well as ordering the deaths of thousands of political opponents.The war ended with a peace treaty in 1996 and Montt was removed from office in a coup.

Guatemala: courtroom just after Ríos Montt genocide trial guilty verdict

Unity Among Chaos

Despite the ruthless nature and the year and a half of oppression under Montt, he was condemned by an international council for crimes against humanity. He was sentences 75 life terms for his atrocity. In this video clip it is evident that the people of Guatemala have rejoiced to see this man put away forever, or at least 75 lives. This clip, which takes place moments after the verdict is read, shows the strength of the Guatemalan people, and the weakness of their dictator. Although 200,00 people were killed by this man, 6 million stand strong to watch this man fall, as so many others did in the past. As they sing their national anthem, the people of Cuba show that they do not need, or want their leader.

Dear "The General",

The people of Guatemala will not stand for our leader! Each and every citizen is helpless under your rule. You have not only abused our human rights but you have abused your dictatorial power. Thousands have been massacres, rape, torture, and acts of genocide against the native population. During the bloody war your Regime was responsible for some of the worst atrocities of our long history. We will not stand to be oppressed any longer. We have taken enough and it is time you have stepped down as leader of Guatemala. If you resist, there will be blood in the streets. We stand as one in this fight for freedom. With the aid of the millions of oppressed. We will take you off the thrown you sit on, made from the bodies of the 200,000 you killed.

-Leader of the rebel coup

Essential question

What effects did Montts rule have on the people of Guatemala?