The First Day of the Ríos Montt Trial: Rigoberta Menchú, Requests for Delays, and Racism

Mike Allison at the excellent Central American Politics blog is currently in Guatemala during the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt for charges of genocide and human rights violations. He was able to attend some of the first day’s proceedings yesterday, and had two fascinating posts on what he saw. In the first, he focuses on what it was like waiting in line for the trial and sitting in the room while it began, including witnessing Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú sitting only 10 feet away from Ríos Montt and the general’s attempt to stall the trial by getting new defense attorneys. In the second he talks about how racism towards indigenous peoples continues to manifest itself in the trial:

In blaming the foreigners for pushing for a trial, one does see a bit of racism at work as well. It does not appear that the defense believes Maya-Ixil capable of understanding, on their own, what was done to them. You cannot expect them to understand what they are accusing the government of and it is impossible to believe that they would have been able to do all this legal work without the terrible influence of those Europeans. They are just not smart enough.

Both pieces are absolutely worth reading in their entirety, and Mike’s always-excellent log will be especially worth following in the coming days and weeks as the trial progresses.

UPDATE: Mike also pointed to this set of photos, which includes Ríos Montt’s daughter, congresswoman Zury Ríos, sitting just two seats away from Menchú as well.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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