Guatamala’s Montt guilty of Atrocity; but what about Ronald Reagan? (Democracy Now!)

A Guatamalan court has sentenced former dictator Efrain Rios Montt to 80 years in prison for his responsibility for the slaughter of some 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil by the army during his period in power, 1982-83.

What the court did not decide was the culpability of Ronald Reagan for the atrocity, given his warm support for Montt and Guatamalan right wing repression in that period.

Kate Doyle has assembled relevant documentation at the National Security Archive.

Democracy Now! interviews Allan Nairn on the issue:

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15 Responses

  1. The following piece of information results in absolute disbelief when told to “properly educated” Westerners:
    “In the Cambridge History of the Cold War, John Coatsworth [a historian of Latin America and the provost of Columbia University] recalls that from 1960 [by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin’s gulags] to ‘the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.’ But being nonatrocities [since committed by US-supported regimes], these crimes, substantially traceable to U.S. intervention, didn’t inspire a human-rights crusade.” link to

    The above is important to understand because what is often reported as aberrations in US foreign policy concerning “non-Whites” (Vietnam, Abu Ghraib, etc.) are not aberrations.

  2. As long as we’re looking, how about looking at former congressman Jerry Weller, Montt’s son-in-law and biggest supporter on the Hill.

  3. Add the Phillipines to that list, What is the proper explenation of the anti-non-whites immigration laws starting in the 1920s.

    Lets be honest if the Cubans crossing over to Florida were the same color as the Haitians there would be no “three steps on dry land” law.

    Domestically there is always the confrontations against earlier settlers America.

  4. The US gave military aid to the repressive regime in El Salvador in the eighties. Both jimmey Carter and Ronald Reagan were a part of that.

      • My mistake. Carter left office in Jan 1981.

        However that may be, I have found a disposition of those on the political left to try to prove Carter was hypocrite, especially on human rights, while also not recognizing any of his accomplishments in this area.

        I think this due to emotional conservativeness, though operating on those of the left wing.

        Certainly Carter was never accepted as a progressive by the political left, nor even by the Kennedy wing of the Democratic party, nor by many people in the northeast who felt that a southern progressive was an oxymoron.

        • Then-President Jimmy Carter, at significant cost to State Department foreign policy interests, criticized American allies in Latin America, such as Brazil and Argentina for their woeful record on human rights.

          It was the Kennedy administration who inaugurated Operation Mongoose, following the Bay of Pigs, which was a joint CIA-Army project, to attempt to subvert the Castro regime in Cuba via covert paramilitary operations. Kennedy’s foreign policy actions were not entirely “progressive” and he was, for political reasons, anxious to show the public he was not soft on communism.

          The spike in U.S. supported anti-communist activity in Latin America came about after Pres. Carter left office. El Salvadoran President Duarte was a CIA asset and death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson was trained as an army intelligence officer at the School of the Americas, a training unit of the U.S. Army. The rise of Duarte and D’Aubuisson coincided with Reagan’s assumption of the presidency in 1981.

        • Carter renewed military aid to El Salvador in November 1979. In February of1980, he ignored a plea from Archbishop Oscar Romero not to send military aid. Carter suspended aid in December 1980 after the murder of 4 churchwomen from the US.
          There’s also his aid to the Indonesian regime while it killing large numbers of East Timorese.
          On this blog site, I’ve seen plenty of praise for Carter, and no mention of his errors. It’s nice to have all the facts.

  5. Forget about sentencing Ronald Reagan…why can’t we sentence people that are still alive? It’s atrocious that George W. Bush still walks the earth a free man.

  6. The US was not only country complicitous in the genocidal savagery of the Guatemalan government.

    According to Baylis Thomas in “The Dark side of Zionism”, after the 1977 arms cutoff by the US, Israel built Guatemala an airbase and munitions factory, and became Guatemala’s largest supplier of weapons over the next decade. In 1982, Israel military advisors helped to develop and execute Plan Victoria which was scorched earth campaign in which the Guatemalan army bombed, strafed, and burned large numbers of villages. An estimated 100,000 peasants escaped across the border to Mexico or into the mountains. Israel was cited by Guatemalan Chief of Staff Lucas Garcia as “the only country that gave us support.

    Jane Hunter summarizes: “Three successive military governments and three brutal and sweeping campaigns against the Mayan population, described by a US diplomat as ‘genocide against the Indians’ had the benefit of Israeli techniques, experience, and hardware.”

    • Israel was very active in Latin America during the 1970s and 80s. Check the NY Times #1 best-seller “By Way of Deception” by a former Mossad case officer (Ostrovsky) where he describes the role of the Mossad in that area.

      Israel was supplied Exocet missiles by Chile in exchange for training in covert operations of Chilean intelligence. Ostrovsky describes the disgust he had on seeing planes bearing the Star of David carry cocaine in Latin America. His allegations in his book were taken so seroiusly by Israeli government officials that he was questioned via deposition in a formal inquiry.

      Israel also had ties to Panama’s Manuel Noriega.

      Israel’s interest in promoting international arms sales is purely economic. The long-running civil war that had gone on in Sri Lanka between the Tamil Tigers and government forces that decimated that nation’s population was fueled by Israeli arms distribution to both sides. It was a lucrative proposition for Israel, irrespective which side eventually won.

      The irony is that the only nation in Latin America, Costa Rica, is also the most peaceful and stable.

      • I meant to say re Costa Rica “the only nation in Latin America” without an army, was also the most peaceful and stable.

        • Again, according to Thomas, Israel interests in selling arms were not just pecuniary.

          Following the ’67 War,29 African counties broke diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel increased its production and sale of heavy weaponry such as tanks, missiles, fighter planes, warships, armored vehicles, and nuclear technology to clients worldwide, in Asia, Europe, Latin America, as well as in Africa. Israel needed friends in the United Nations, and the sale of weapons facilitated such fealty.

          In addition, Israel could advance the US’s strategic assets by the sale of military hardware when the US itself was so enjoined by laws enacted by the US Congress.

          Also, Israel pursued a ‘strategy of the periphery’ by arming states, like Iran, on the outer
          boundary of the nearer Arab states.

          Further, the sale of arms was a means of establishing a lucrative 2-way commerce in which Israel could gain access of imports of raw materials and other commodities from African and other states.

    • Israel had mutual ideological interests with South Africa via apartheid and the two collaborated in producing atomic weaponry.

      Look at South Africa’s creation of an “independent” Bophutswana as a political model and comapre it to the current political model that Israel wants to promote for a West Bank Palestinian state – the two are similar in design.

      The Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”)is often compared to the plight of the American Indians – colonists subjugating an indigenous population.

  7. Don’t forget that Montt, an evangelical Protestant, relied on the American Christian Right to protect him in many ways:

    link to

    Big Business and Big Religion have supported fascism before, and they support it now.

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