Former Guatemalan leader to stand trial for genocide

Former Guatemalan leader to stand trial for genocide
Former Guatemalan leader to stand trial for genocide

Former Guatemalan leader to stand trial for genocide

Among the deadliest periods of Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war was the reign of Efrain Rios Montt from 1982 to1983. Desperate to wipe out anti-government elements, Rios Montt sent soldiers to eliminate the ethnic Mayan population, who were seen as sympathetic to the rebels. Thousands of people were killed, raped or conscripted into government forces. Even after being toppled by a coup in 1983, Rios Montt has never faced prosecution. Until now. Just last week, a Guatemalan judge declared that Rios Montt would have to stand trial for genocide. He is the first former leader of a Latin American country to face such charges, and one of the few in the world. Kirsten Weld, a professor of history at Harvard University, recently published an op-ed in the New York Times explaining the trial. She tells Worldview why this trial took so long to happen and what it means.