Guatemala: PBS NewsHour report on Ríos Montt genocide trial, from Miles O'Brien and Xeni Jardin

Watch PBS NewsHour tonight (Wednesday, May 8, 2013) for a report that science correspondent Miles O'Brien and I produced from Guatemala on the role forensic science plays in the genocide trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez.

Screengrab: Juana Sanchez Toma, of San Juan Cotzal, El Quiché, Guatemala. We interviewed her in her dirt-floor home about her experience as a victim of sexual violence committed by Army troops under Ríos Montt's command in Nebaj in 1982.

Some of the other people we interviewed for this piece said that she and other Ixil Maya "querrelantes" in the trial (criminal witnesses for the prosecution) were making up stories about mass rapes, execution, torture, infanticide, and other atrocities because they were offered financial rewards for participating in a neo-Marxist political plot to unfairly condemn the former General and head of state.

You can watch and decide for yourself.

Check local listings for showtimes. Video will be online this evening, I'll post links when the video is up.

Read more in our Boing Boing archives of reports from Guatemala about the genocide trial.


  1. Montt has powerful, international backing, derived principally from the under-reported Israeli sponsorship for his 1982 coup.  Much is made of the “School of the Americas” training that enabled this generation of Latin American, military juntas.  In fact – at least in the case of Montt and Guatemala, funding and logistics were an Israeli project – including 300 IDF commandos leading the coup operations, and ongoing supply of weapons, equipment, materiel and personnel.  This support for the genocide of the indigenous people of Guatemala is not only historical.  It persists to this day – and is an element in the recalcitrance of the Nation’s elite towards this prosecution.

    More detail is provided by the North American Congress on Latin America, and can be read here:
    Israel’s Proxy War in Guatemala.

    Anyone seeking to be rationally and fully informed on the matter of justice for Guatemala should make a point of becoming fully educated on this.  Otherwise, one may be cursing ripples, having never witnessed who had cast the stone.

  2. I also recommend this heartbreaking web series where they are inside the courtroom, documenting the horrific testimony:

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