{"code":"26671","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"134","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202301\/centroamerica\/26671","link_edit":"","name":"\u201cThe Guatemalan army had every right to execute the necessary actions\u201d","slug":"-ldquo-the-guatemalan-army-had-every-right-to-execute-the-necessary-actions-rdquo-","info":"Arguments in defense of former Guatemalan dictator General Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt oscillate between genocide denial to justifying \u201cexcesses\u201d committed against the civilian population during the armed conflict. In 2013, El Faro interviewed R\u00edos Montt\u2019s daughter and political prot\u00e9g\u00e9, Zury R\u00edos,\u00a0a month before her father was convicted of genocide. At the time, she argued that the military did what was \u201cnecessary\u201d to prevent Guatemala from becoming like \u201cManagua or Havana, or Venezuela,\u201d and denied that the violence in 1982 and 1983 was ethnically motivated. Guatemala, she said, is not a racist country.","mtag":"Politics","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/jlsanz'\u003E Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"jose-luis-sanz":{"sort":"jlsanz","slug":"jose-luis-sanz","path":"jose_luis_sanz","name":"Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"134","pict":{"cms-image-000038035-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"38035","name":"cms-image-000038035.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038035.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038035.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038035-jpg","text":"<p>Guatemala\u2019s former de facto president (1982-1983) and retired general, Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn Rios Montt, speaks with his daughter Zury Rios during a court hearing in Guatemala City on January 23, 2013, when prosecutors requested that R\u00edos Montt and retired general Jos\u00e9 Rodr\u00edguez be tried for genocide. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3nez\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EGuatemala\u2019s former de facto president (1982-1983) and retired general, Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn Rios Montt, speaks with his daughter Zury Rios during a court hearing in Guatemala City on January 23, 2013, when prosecutors requested that R\u00edos Montt and retired general Jos\u00e9 Rodr\u00edguez be tried for genocide. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3nez\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038210-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38210","name":"cms-image-000038210.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038210.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038210.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038210-jpg","text":"<p>Former Guatemalan dictator (1982-1983), General Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt, testifies on May 9, 2013 while on trial for the crime of genocide. R\u00edos Montt was found guilty, but the Supreme Court ordered a retrial citing procedural errors. He died before a second trial could take place. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFormer Guatemalan dictator (1982-1983), General Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt, testifies on May 9, 2013 while on trial for the crime of genocide. R\u00edos Montt was found guilty, but the Supreme Court ordered a retrial citing procedural errors. He died before a second trial could take place. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":38035,"date":{"live":"2023\/01\/13"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2023","data_post_dateLive_MM":"01","data_post_dateLive_DD":"13","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003EEl Faro \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201304\/noticias\/11767\/%E2%80%9CEl-ej%C3%A9rcito-ten%C3%ADa-todas-las-de-ley-para-ejecutar-las-acciones-necesarias%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003Epublished this interview in Spanish\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0on April 23, 2013.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZury R\u00edos has the physical features as well as the ideological imprint of her father, General Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt. She is the heiress to his politics, and served as his star deputy at a time when\u00a0the post-war ballot boxes smiled down upon their party, the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). In 2013, when this interview was conducted, R\u00edos Montt was facing charges of genocide in Guatemalan court and was not speaking to the press. Zury R\u00edos was the closest anyone could get to the thoughts of her father, who died in 2018.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn the month leading up to this interview, Zury Mayt\u00e9 R\u00edos Montt was also her father\u2019s most steadfast supporter in the courtroom. Nearly every hour of every day, she sat in the front row of the hearings listening, just a few feet from the bench where her father stood accused, to the staggering succession of stories of death and torture recounted by the nearly one hundred Maya Ixil witnesses and victims who testified face-to-face with the ex-dictator. Like her father, Zury R\u00edos appeared unmoved.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPerhaps this was because she had already read the report from the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH), which had found that 93% of the massacres committed against civilians were perpetrated by the army, and that 83% of the victims were Indigenous. Certainly, she was aware that all sides had not acted equally during the war, just as she was aware that all Guatemalans had not suffered equally, and just as she was aware that forensic examinations had disproven the claim that most of the Maya Ixil women, elders, and children killed by her father\u2019s government had died in the heat of combat. They were slaughtered in cold blood, and Zury R\u00edos knows it. Just as she knows that according to every investigation conducted, the children whose remains were recovered from mass graves were not combatants; they were children. But none of this matters to her. In Zury R\u00edos\u2019s telling, there is no room for such inconvenient details. Her responses are like a downpour of liquid reasoning in which names and facts dissolve like sugar.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWith some interviews, the interviewer might choose to avoid interjection and confrontation \u2014 to let the interviewee\u2019s thoughts flow smoothly in an attempt get closer to what that person might tell their children, their friends, their closest colleagues. This is one of those interviews: a journey through the thoughts of a woman who viewed the trial against her father as an unjust attempt at revenge, who denies the genocide, and who downplays the massacres, arguing that the Army was simply doing what needed to be done \u201cto protect the state.\u201d A person who, in the name of maintaining the myth of a united Guatemala, undivided by ethnic differences \u2014\u201cI don\u2019t think we need to see ourselves as either Indigenous or non-Indigenous\"\u2014 and propelled by a vague and narrow notion of national interest \u2014\u201cto be seen as a genocidal country is a stigma that we won\u2019t be able to shake for generations\u201d\u2014 asks the victims to forget.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZury R\u00edos lives in a discrete but luxurious home in Guatemala City\u2019s Zona 15. Her wood-paneled office is plastered with photographs recounting her legislative career \u2014 pictures of her standing next to heads of state of every ideological creed, diplomas for her educational achievements in political science. On one wall, there is a golden plaque featuring a small map of Guatemala, made from fabric composed in colorful Indigenous motifs. It is a gift from the Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones de Extensi\u00f3n de Cobertura (CONEC), thanking her \u201con behalf of the 800,000 families in Guatemala\u2019s poorest and most neglected communities\u201d for defending their access to health care. Like her father, Zury R\u00edos has supporters and followers from Guatemala\u2019s broken and beaten-down Mayan population. And like her father, she believes that this fact washes away the past.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ELooking around the courtroom, one gets the impression that General Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt has been left to fend for himself.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn politics, people judge you by what you do, by what you don\u2019t do, and even worse, by what people think you do. But you get used to making decisions one way or another, and you get used to groups changing their minds about your record in a given political position. My father is unbroken. He\u2019s a devout man and both he and my mother are holding on to God and trusting in Him, because above the highest judge there is always a higher one, and He is the only one that matters and the only one who truly knows what is in the hearts of men and women. This is just a trial, and my mother always told me that you should never be afraid of jail, or of the hospital, because you could end up there any day. You have to view life in practical terms, otherwise you\u2019re lost. This is a legal process \u2014 a flawed one, unfortunately, with a totally biased court, but it\u2019s just a process. Any person who has taken up the challenge of participating in public life will have to face one at some point in his or her life.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=1997&ImageId=38210 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Former Guatemalan dictator (1982-1983), General Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt, testifies on May 9, 2013 while on trial for the crime of genocide. R\u00edos Montt was found guilty, but the Supreme Court ordered a retrial citing procedural errors. He died before a second trial could take place. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E Former Guatemalan dictator (1982-1983), General Jos\u00e9 Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt, testifies on May 9, 2013 while on trial for the crime of genocide. R\u00edos Montt was found guilty, but the Supreme Court ordered a retrial citing procedural errors. He died before a second trial could take place. Photo: Johan Ord\u00f3\u00f1ez\/AFP \u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/figcaption\u003E \u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhy do you say the process is flawed?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe court is totally biased. Look at the attitude of its president [Yassm\u00edn Barrios] and the other two men, who have no opinions other than the ones she tells them to have. She\u2019s totally compromised\u2026 We saw it in the Dos Erres case and in the Gerardi case. When she judges military officers, she conducts herself in a biased way. Now she\u2019s biased against us, and I understand that, since neither I nor the general voted to confirm her as a Supreme Court justice when she was a candidate. I even lobbied for her not to be a magistrate. Which is why there\u2019s so much enmity between us, haha.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou could have requested to remove her.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EShe has an interest in hearing this case. And furthermore, why the rush? Why this interest in speeding up the trial? In other cases, she\u2019s held sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays\u2026 but never past 3:30 in the afternoon. But this time she has us in court until seven at night, and the other day until eight, in spite of the fact that General Rodr\u00edguez S\u00e1nchez is in delicate health. Her treatment of us is tainted with an ideology of revenge.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ERevenge against members of the military?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYes, against the military. And in this case, I know that she is specifically out to get me and the general.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYour father\u2019s lawyer says this trial is ultimately one against the Guatemalan army.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s correct.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EOn whose behalf?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn behalf of those who failed at the competitive life of the country and who want to live off the post-war state of affairs. Left-wing intellectuals don\u2019t care about this trial, nor do the leftists who took up arms. None of this is coming from the progressive left. Their children are the ones who are concerned about the trial, the young people who saw it all through the eyes of their parents or grandparents, and who are making a living off of the post-conflict fallout. They write letters to Americas Watch, to Human Rights Watch, and those groups send them money. That\u2019s how they make a living. In this country, there are more NGOs than corporations, because people can live off of the donations they raise. The reason Rigoberta Mench\u00fa cares so much about General R\u00edos Montt is because for her he\u2019s a source of income.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAnd the Ixil? And the victims?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Ixil voted for General R\u00edos Montt in huge numbers. Out of the seven total congressional seats in Quich\u00e9, they gave the FRG five. We won more votes than any other party in the department. That was the real trial! General R\u00edos Montt has already been judged politically, not just once but many times! He had the largest representation in Congress and served as representative because of those votes, and in the last election, which he lost, he came in third place, not fifth, sixth, or seventh, as Mench\u00fa did. And the Ixil people voted for this party, the ruling party, which is the party of the military.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThat does not erase what happened.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI don\u2019t deny that every war has some drama and some tragedy, because that would be to ignore the reality not just of Guatemala, but of the world. But those who have come forward to testify are from communities in resistance, from the groups that went to the mountains, recruited by the guerrillas. Put yourself in the context of the time: Geographically we were the backyard of the United States, with a tremendously strong Soviet bloc that financed Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico\u2026 and here we were, providing the dead. The challenge was tremendous: the official troops, with a large number of Indigenous soldiers, Ixiles, Queqch\u00edes, Quich\u00e9s\u2026 At no time was our purpose ever to destroy for reasons of religion or ethnicity.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EBut the numbers speak of thousands of Ixil dead.\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYou talk about the Ixil people\u2026 I went on a political tour with General R\u00edos Montt to Chajul, to Cotzal, and to Nebaj, and since we couldn\u2019t arrive on the day we were scheduled to, we went the next day, and I remember that when we arrived, the children, the women, and the men looked at us, and the people had gathered in the plaza without knowing we were going to be there, because we hadn\u2019t arrived on the day were scheduled to. An Ixil woman took the microphone, with her grandmother, and I won\u2019t ever forget it, because I was young and new to politics, and obviously, this was the first time I had been there and I really wanted to hear what people had to say. And this woman said: \u201cR\u00edos Montt, people say that your hands are stained with blood, but you gave us life, and that is why we are here.\u201d That had an impact on me\u2026 the people in the plaza, with their grandparents, with their elders. And not because we were there to give them handouts\u2026 It was remarkable. Who\u2019s going to vote for their own executioner? Who helps their executioner become President of Congress, and then helps them become a candidate for president of the country? You were talking earlier about being alone\u2026 The fact is that the people who sympathize with General R\u00edos Montt are working people, not people who are paid to sit in the courtroom or to protest outside. People come here bringing \u003Cem\u003Echampurradas\u003C\/em\u003E, cakes\u2026 people we don\u2019t even know\u2026 \u201cGeneral, I\u2019m with you, I\u2019m so sorry.\u201d General R\u00edos Montt is not alone.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EPolitically, he is. A trial like this would have been impossible five years ago. Has the map of interests changed? Has R\u00edos Montt lost any support?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENo. This is happening because those people who live off the conflict, off the aftermath of the war, have lost the ideological battle and all their political opportunities, because time and time again, they go to the polls and they lose\u2026 Look how many representatives they have now: one. And hardly any mayors. So, they dedicate themselves to making little footholds in the justice administration agencies, in the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office especially, and to a certain extent in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. And from there, they triangulate their operations.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EEven so, all of that happens through the parties, through the space of politics. It\u2019s not possible to get into the Prosecutor\u2019s Office without a certain correlation of political forces.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Attorney General [Claudia Paz y Paz] was chosen by the former President of the Republic [\u00c1lvaro Colom], whose wife was a guerilla. And they carry out their operations with the help of countries like Norway and Sweden, which don\u2019t want any competition in terms of mining, because they\u2019re producers. When it comes to these issues, there are a lot of very fine interwoven threads, very difficult to see. And it worries me, not because General R\u00edos Montt or General Rodr\u00edguez might be condemned, but because to be seen as a genocidal country is a stigma that we won\u2019t be able to rid ourselves of for generations. How is it possible that we failed to learn our lesson from the case of El Salvador? There, they compete with political proposals, and the people decide who to vote for, but it\u2019s not about vindictiveness and vengeance.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIn your view, does this trial represent a failure of the Peace Accords?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt\u2019s a threat to the culture of peace. While we\u2019ve been at trial, there are women whose husbands, bus conductors, have been murdered, and they have yet to have a single audience before any court. In this country, 3,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 have given birth \u2014and this is classified as rape\u2014 and tons of perpetrators have been arrested\u2026 but not even one hearing in court. Not to mention all the Zetas waiting to be tried as well\u2026 Where is the sense that we\u2019re tending to the needs of the people as we drag out a 30-year-long process, despite the fact that we had a peace agreement, an amnesty, a national reconciliation? Where does all this get us? It\u2019s just dividing us, polarizing us, encouraging us to be critical\u2026 rather than to build.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou say that the judicial system has been contaminated.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA part of it has.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIn contrast, President Otto P\u00e9rez Molina, a former general himself, has publicly stated that he views this trial as a sign that the country is making institutional progress and strengthening the rule of law.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs president, he has said that independence of powers should be respected, but as a person, as a private citizen, he\u2019s also said that there was no genocide in Guatemala. And his visit [on April 10, 2013] to the Ixil triangle demonstrates once again that this is being pushed by people who are being used by outside interests, employing paid witnesses, and choosing people from just one side who aren\u2019t telling the story impartially.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIs Otto P\u00e9rez betraying his fellow officers or the political-military project of which he was once a part?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s something you\u2019ll have to ask him, haha.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIs the army divided on the issue of the trial?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENo. Actually, members of the military who have been discharged, who are retired, they\u2019re bothered by this sort of thing. And young people, too, because there is no respect for the institution, and like it or not, here in Guatemala, the army was in charge of running the government, for years. If it hadn\u2019t been, we would have become another Managua or Havana, or Venezuela.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIs Guatemala a racist country?\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI don\u2019t believe Guatemala is a racist country. Some people, not just in Guatemala, but all over the world, have had problems with racism, discrimination, stigmatization. Whether it\u2019s because of color, social class, sexual preference\u2026 And not just people; sometimes even institutions.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou don\u2019t think it\u2019s a major problem...?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENot of a country, no. You\u2019re asking me: \u201cDo you think Guatemala is racist?\u201d and I\u2019m telling you: No, just some people are.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EI think you understand my question. I\u2019m asking if there is an ingrained culture of racism.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESome people are. Some people. From a very young age, in school, kids tease each other that way; somebody does something wrong and they say to each other, \u201cmira, no se\u00e1s indio\u201d [\u201chey, don\u2019t be an Indian\u201d]. That\u2019s wrong, that\u2019s a bad thing to say, a bad thing to be taught. I just read Pablo Monsanto\u2019s statements about Rigoberta Mench\u00fa and he says: \u201cWell, it\u2019s easy to understand Rigoberta, because she\u2019s an Indian, and she\u2019s always full of resentment.\u201d And that\u2019s a guerrilla commander saying that, not me! Interesting. Some people think like that, I don\u2019t know why. It all depends on how you\u2019ve been brought up.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EDanilo Rodr\u00edguez, your father\u2019s lawyer, says that the defense is not denying the facts, the massacres, the deaths in the Ixil region, but contests the responsibility for those facts, and their scale. He describes them as \u201cexcesses.\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOne cannot deny that in war, there are excesses. There were excesses committed by the insurgency and on the side of the counterinsurgency. But the notion that this was a state policy is false. That this was a genocide is false.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhat do you think is owed to the victims of these \u201cexcesses\u201d?\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EObviously, in the first place, we need to support all the victims, not just one side, but also the other side. How many thousands of officers were killed? How many left behind widows and children? Or how many from the civilian population, who weren\u2019t part of the resistance or on the side of the military establishment, but who were threatened, who were captu\u2026 kidnapped? How many people from the private sector were kidnapped? Justly executed, in the parlance of the subversive groups. First, we have to heal the heart. But who can help heal your heart, other than God? It\u2019s an internal process, of inner health. But to be subverting, to be seeking out and feeding hatred and resentment, that isn\u2019t building peace. Period. And now, where is today\u2019s generation of kids headed? What are we encouraging? What are we doing to promote investment? What are we producing? How are we generating employment? How do we generate progress, international relations, cooperation? That\u2019s the focus. That\u2019s what we all have to work on. On restoring internally and restoring externally, so that we can build.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou make a distinction between the communities in resistance and the civilian population.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWell, many of the communities in resistance who went to the mountain were subversives, people cooperating with the subversives. On the other hand, there is another population that was actually a civilian population, who farm, who tend to their plot of land, who are threatened by the Army or by the guerrillas. We have to support them. Many of the people from Quich\u00e9 [Department] said: \u201cWell, I guess we all have to be leftists now, we all have to be subversives.\u201d But it\u2019s not like that. We have to be very careful in teasing out who\u2019s who in the bigger picture. There are people who have testified: \u201cNo, I mean, I don't know who was involved in the war,\u201d or \u201cYeah, there was a war, but whose war it was, I don\u2019t know.\u201d Of course they know! The fact that they don\u2019t want to say so is another thing! Because many of them are the brothers of subversives, children of subversives, grandchildren of subversives. And their names are right there, in the books written by the subversives.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou talk about them as if they were all guerillas. But children died!\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s right. And who recruited them? Who sent them to the front? And not just now or in this war, but all over the world. Who sent them to the front? Who recruited them irregularly?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAnd what, in your view, should have been done with them?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhat did the law say? That it\u2019s forbidden to take up arms for any totalitarian cause. What does the law say? That I can\u2019t traffic drugs. What does the law say? That I can\u2019t carry arms.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou speak of the law, but no one had a fair trial.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAh, no, when I go to the United States, I keep off the grass, but here I walk over whatever grass I want. It can\u2019t be! That\u2019s why I want you to look at it from a global perspective: it\u2019s written in the law, and everyone who led people along and took advantage of their ignorance to exploit their resentment and to commit crimes, well, that has a consequence. Look at the constitution that was in force, the 1965 constitution, which said that they [these movements] were prohibited and that the army had every right to execute the necessary actions. Just imagine. The Communist Party was prohibited! It was General R\u00edos Montt who opened up political thinking and swore in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. And who was it that appointed a Council of State where, for the first time, all ethnic groups were represented \u2014 all of them, not only the Ixiles, but all of them \u2014 in a Council of State where they had a voice and a vote? It was General R\u00edos Montt. And who developed projects to protect civil society, to support and accompany them, to generate jobs and production for them, to provide food for them? It was General R\u00edos Montt\u2026\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EDid your father not know what was happening in the Ixil area, or did he know about it but didn\u2019t want to or couldn\u2019t stop it? I\u2019m talking about the \u201cexcesses,\u201d the massacres, the violence against civilians, obviously.\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI\u2019m not going to go into things that will have to be aired in court and that I think it\u2019s up to him to answer. But I do want to say that in those days, our ability to communicate was not what it is today. And even less so, given our geography. It would take 15 days for information on what was happening in Quich\u00e9 to reach here.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhen did you find out what had happened in the war? How did it affect you?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI\u2019m 45 years old now. In 1982 I would have been 13 or 14, but I always knew we\u2019d gone through a painful process. I lost my own brother during the war. It was a painful process for everyone. But I haven\u2019t spent my life poking around in the past\u2026 No, no, no. My life has been focused on building, on work. If you ask people on the left, you\u2019ll know that as a congresswoman I actually championed issues that the progressive left would never dare to champion in this country, and if I\u2019d had a different upbringing at home, I never would have done it, never. Just ask [women\u2019s rights activist] Norma Cruz: she knows that it was me who always supported her and had her back. If Fundaci\u00f3n Sobrevivientes [an NGO that supports women who are victims of abuse] exists, it\u2019s because I supported it. And then there\u2019s my work with UNICEF, and with other organizations, not just on foreign policy issues. People say, \u201cOh, yes, there is cruel and inhumane treatment in the prisons.\u201d Well, who approved the international convention on cruel treatment and punishment in places of detention? I did. I understand, as a politician, the desire of these people to continue living in a state of post-war conflict, but it\u2019s unacceptable for the new generations, it\u2019s unacceptable for the Guatemala we want to build. And I\u2019m not saying this because the general might be condemned; General R\u00edos Montt is 87 years old \u2014 how many more years could he possibly have left? The question is: how many more prosecutions come after this one? Not only against the military, but against the sugar cane growers, against the landowners, against the whole agricultural sector?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EYou\u2019re afraid of the effects a conviction might have on these sectors?\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI\u2019m not afraid of anything. I\u2019m not afraid of anything but God almighty! Hahaha. But I\u2019m worried about Guatemala. I\u2019m worried that they will open hundreds of cases, which will affect families, people in the private sector, the country\u2019s productive and industrial sectors, in the country\u2019s agricultural sector\u2026\u00a0 Families, families.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhy do you expect prosecutions against members of the private sector?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBecause there are articles, published all over South America, where they say that the private sector cooperated with the army.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWell, didn\u2019t they?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s what the Left says. We have principles to defend. I believe in having respect for the law, for private property, for individual freedom. My conception of justice is \u201cto each what he deserves.\u201d I don\u2019t believe in redistributive justice. And I\u2019m concerned that all this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the trial, when they ask the witnesses: \u201cWhat did you lose? How many huipiles did you lose? How many chickens did you lose?\u201d I mean, why are we here? I thought this was a matter of justice, of the heart, of whatever\u2026 No, no, no! It\u2019s a financial matter! It\u2019s an issue of \u201clet\u2019s put a monument here to see how much we get paid later.\u201d But no, that\u2019s not it. Why didn\u2019t Mrs. Mench\u00fa take her Nobel Prize winnings and distribute them among the people? Why don\u2019t the international organizations, instead of paying for a thousand employees, go to Quich\u00e9 and invest in the communities, so the people can work, or buy land that the people can use to form cooperatives, to work, to produce, or to build a hospital? Because they want people to stay ignorant forever. But it doesn\u2019t work like that. The more people can make decisions over their own lives, and the more purchasing power they have to do it, the freer they are.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EDo you think that in the aftermath of the trial there will be a fight for land?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI\u2019m sure of it.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAnd that would be totally unfair?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn light of the arguments they\u2019re using and all the manipulation, it would be totally illegal and inappropriate.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhy inappropriate?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBecause they\u2019re being incentivized. They\u2019re not being persecuted; they\u2019re just sowing discord to get what they want. They\u2019re being manipulated. Because if you have a private title to something, it\u2019s yours. And you do with it what you want: if you want, you give it away, you subdivide it, you cut it down, you plant it\u2026 or if you don\u2019t want to, you don\u2019t. It\u2019s your property. \u201cOh, I don\u2019t like what you\u2019re doing, so I\u2019m going to take it away from you.\u201d No. \u201cThere\u2019s a dead person under there, so I\u2019m going to take it away from you.\u201d No. \u201cIt was ours, it was a sacred place, so I'm going to take it away from you.\u201d No. I don\u2019t think so.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIs it not true that Indigenous communities lost their land?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWe\u2019d have to ask the Spaniards how they took it from them. We\u2019d have to go back in time to find where the chain begins, haha.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThat might be the solution, but what I\u2019m talking about is the displacement that happened during the war\u2026\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s how it starts! But at the time they had the land, but then they sell it and go and drink away all the money they got for it. You tell me how that\u2019s the fault of the new owner. Again, the issue is education. That\u2019s why social programs generally don\u2019t give land to a single individual, but to the whole community, because if they don\u2019t, they\u2019ll just sell the land, and sometimes it\u2019s the women who plant and harvest it, and then the man pockets all the money to buy a pickup and doesn\u2019t leave a penny for food. This is where education comes into play. Why is there malnutrition when cooperatives are earning so much? Because they don\u2019t give their families money to eat!\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAnd according to you this is more common in Indigenous areas?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYes, this happens much more in Indigenous areas. They plant carrots, lettuce, which is something we export\u2026 but ask them if they ever eat carrot soup? They don\u2019t eat it! Beans and corn\u2026 that\u2019s it. There\u2019s no educational guidance or support. It\u2019s a problem of development strategies.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHow does the future of Indigenous peoples, who represent an enormous percentage of the country\u2019s population, fit into these development strategies?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe thing is, I don\u2019t think we need to see ourselves as either Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Let\u2019s work together! Look, my father had an Indigenous lawyer during the first part of the case\u2026 The point is that they should have the same opportunities as those who aren\u2019t Indigenous.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIn recent decades, have Indigenous people had equal access to opportunities in Guatemala?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhat they haven\u2019t had is education to exercise their citizenship as Indigenous people. The laws are there, but they don\u2019t know how to exercise their citizenship as Indigenous people, and that\u2019s what the previous governments have not wanted to address. This is in part why I\u2019m a progressive, because I believe that we have to support and guide this movement and teach them how it\u2019s done. So that their daughters can be teachers, can be doctors, mayors, congressional representatives, people who have their own thoughts and can make their own decisions.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp style=\"text-align: right;\" dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003E*Translated by Max Granger\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}