Efrain Rios Montt, de facto president of Guatemala from March 1982 to August 1983, died on April 1, 2018. His legacy as a genocidal dictator was cemented in May 2013 during the genocide trial, where he was convicted of genocide against the Maya Ixil people. Although this sentence was overturned ten days later on a procedural appeal, the case continues to stand as a significant moment in Guatemalan history, where a head of state was convicted of genocide.
On his death, Rios Montt was under house arrest, and in the midst of repeating the genocide trial, where witnesses had been testifying against him and his former head of military intelligence, Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez since October.
Rios Montt both reportedly died and was buried on the same day- an act which exemplifies the family’s fear of a public ceremony.
Survivors and family members of the massacred, assassinated and disappeared have expressed their indignation that Rios Montt never spent a day in jail, and died before the repeat of the trial was finished. Many of the survivors and witnesses in the case have also died in the slow process of bringing crimes of the past to justice.
Here are a few links for more information about Rios Montt and his genocidal legacy:
- Justice for Genocide in Guatemala! - an article by former staff member Jackie McVicar on the genocide trial in 2013
- NY Times- Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemalan Dictator Convicted of Genocide, Dies at 91
- When the Mountains Tremble (Documentary)