Efrain Rios Montt

Dictator of Guatemala 1982 - 1983

Early Life

Efrain Rios Montt was born on June 16 1926 in Huehuetenango Guatemala. Montte joined the guatemalen army in 1946. he quickly eose through the ranks and became chief of army general staff under President Carlos Arana. Montt flew to the states to recieve a professional education at Fort Gulick, and Fort Bragg.

Introduction to Polotics

In 1974 Montt briefly resigned from the army to pursue a political career. Montt ran for president and was thought to have won the election, but on a recount it was found that his opponent had more votes and was declared the victor. It was widely believed that the right wing government rigged the recount to keep there candidate in power, stealing the presidency from Montt. He retired from political and military life and joined an evangelical prodistent church and was named a priest shortly after.

How He Came to Power

During the 60s, 70s, and 80s guatemala was in a brutal civil war between indigenous peasents turned guerilla fighters and the guatamalen government. The government enriched the upper classes at the expense of the peasants. The guerrilas gained major support from civilian organizations and won major victories during the late 70s. A militairy coup overthrew the reigning government in on March 7, 1982. it is not known what role Montt played in the coup but he was placed as the head of a triumverate that ran the country.

Ruthless Rule

Montt forced the other 2 leaders of the triumverate to step down and appointed himself leader. Shortly after, massacres began to occur across gutamala. 350 villagers were massacred in Huehuetenango. 200 were massacred a week later in Baja Verapaz. Thousands more were massacred in other town all across Guatemala. Rios Montt did not try very hard to deny the armies involvement in these attrocities. A specific unit of the army was found guilty of one of the massacres but, no one was punished. An estimated 200,000 people fled to Mexico to escape Rios Montt and his ruthless regime.
"If I Can't Control the Army, What Am I Doing Here?" - Granito: How to Nail a Dictator - POV | PBS
This video shows how minipulative of a ruler Efrain rios montt was. He completely denies any of the armies massacres with a giant grin. Efrain used his charm to his advntage and to make himself look like a man who could not order the massacres of thousands. But Efrains biggest flaw was admitting that he controlled the army and made the command decisions. Because we know the army did massacre thousands, it must have been by Efrains orders.

Poem of a Guerilla

Death to Efrain Rios Montt!

He should learn power is not something to flaunt.

And if he does not heed our warning.

A prison outfit he will be adorning.

We must come together to put him to shame!

the guerilla beast is one you can not tame.

this beautiful country is not for thee.

Efrain Rios Montt, you soon shall see.

You think that no one knows about the genocide

but such a crime you cannot hide

so Montt you best start running

because the voice of Guatemala is coming.

Essential Question

Did Efrain Rios Montt use his authority over the military to commit genocide?


"Efraín Ríos Montt." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

"Guatemala." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.