Reagan's Genocide in Central America
Efrain Rios Montt Guilty Verdict: Former Guatemalan Dictator Convicted Of Genocide
The Democracy Now video interviews Guatemala freedom fighter Rigoberta Menchu on the conviction of Guatemala’s former U.S.-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and the 80-year sentence for his role in the killings of more than 1,700 Ixil Mayan people. Menchú lost her father, mother, and two brothers in the genocide, later winning the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning on behalf of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples. Menchú's 30-year law suit helped bring about the conviction.
The February 2013 article How Reagan Promoted Genocide says,
"A newly-discovered document reveals that President Reagan and his national security team in 1981 approved Guatemala’s extermination of both leftist guerrillas and their “civilian support mechanisms,” a green light that opened a path to genocide against hundreds of Mayan villages.
Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan’s national security team agreed to supply military aid to the brutal right-wing regime in Guatemala to pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but their “civilian support mechanisms,” according to a newly-disclosed document from the National Archives.
Over the next several years, the military assistance from the Reagan administration assisted the Guatemalan army in doing just that, engaging in the slaughter of some 100,000 people, including what a truth commission deemed genocide against the Mayan Indians in the northern highlands.....
The death toll was staggering — an estimated 70,000 or more political killings in El Salvador, possibly 20,000 slain from the Contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political “disappearances” in Honduras.... The one consistent element in these slaughters was the overarching Cold War rationalization, emanating in large part from Ronald Reagan’s White House.
New York attorney Stephen L. Kass said these findings included proof that the government carried out “virtually indiscriminate murder of men, women and children
of any farm regarded by the army as possibly supportive of guerrilla insurgents.”
Rural women suspected of guerrilla sympathies were raped before execution, Kass said, adding that children were “thrown into burning homes. They are thrown in the air and speared with bayonets. We heard many, many stories of children being picked up by the ankles and swung against poles so their heads are destroyed.”
According to now declassified U.S. records, the Guatemalan reality included torture
out of the Middle Ages....The Guatemalan military used the Pacific Ocean as another dumping spot for political victims, according to the DIA report. Bodies of insurgents tortured to death and of live prisoners marked for “disappearance” were loaded on planes that flew out over the ocean where the soldiers would shove the victims into the water.
Guatemala, of course, was not the only Central American country where Reagan and his administration supported brutal counterinsurgency operations — and then sought to cover up the bloody facts....It was not until 1999, a decade after Ronald Reagan left office, that the shocking scope of the grisly reality about the atrocities in Guatemala was revealed by a truth commission that drew heavily on documents that President Bill Clinton had ordered declassified.
On Feb. 25, 1999, the Historical Clarification Commission estimated that the 34-year civil war had claimed the lives of some 200,000 people with the most savage bloodletting occurring in the 1980s. The panel estimated that the army was responsible for 93 percent of the killings and leftist guerrillas for three percent.
The report documented that in the 1980s, the army committed 626 massacres against Mayan villages. “The massacres that eliminated entire Mayan villages … are neither perfidious allegations nor figments of the imagination, but an authentic chapter in Guatemala’s history,” the commission concluded.
The army “completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroyed their livestock and crops,” the report said. In the northern highlands, the report termed the slaughter “genocide.” ....report concluded that the U.S. government also gave money and training to a Guatemalan military that committed “acts of genocide” against the Mayans....
The report did not single out culpable individuals either in Guatemala or the United States. But the American official most directly responsible for renewing U.S. military aid to Guatemala and encouraging its government during the 1980s was Ronald Reagan.....
The story of the Guatemalan genocide and the Reagan administration’s complicity quickly disappeared into the great American memory hole.....Rather than a debate about Reagan as a war criminal who assisted genocide, the former president is honored as a conservative icon with his name attached to Washington National Airport and scores of other public sites.