Protesters in Guatemala and other Latin American countries gathered on Friday to denounce the Guatemalan Constitutional Court's recent decision to overturn the genocide trial and guilty verdict of Ríos Montt. About 1,500 people, mostly indigenous Maya from Guatemala, gathered in Guatemala City. They marched along what posters described as the "Route of Impunity," from the Supreme Court where the ex-General was convicted on May 10 and sentenced to 80 years in jail, to the Constutional Court which threw out the trial ten days later.
Photos from the Guatemala City march below, along with images from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico, which were among the other countries where protests took place. Also below, snapshots from a pro-Ríos Montt protest that took place today in a suburb of Guatemala City: about 15 people gathered to denounce Communism and terrorism, and chant that "In Guatemala, there was no genocide."
Also on Friday, former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was extradited by the Guatemalan government to the United States, where he is wanted on allegations he laundered some $70 million through US banks.
Portillo ruled Guatemala from 2000-2004, and was elected on the platform of the FRG party, which Ríos Montt founded and led.
In 2010, the United States filed charges against him for what a prosecutor called “converting the office of the Guatemalan presidency into his personal A.T.M.”
Portillo was also tried in Guatemala for looting millions in Guatemalan funds, but was acquitted.
The timing of Portillo's extradition is seen by some within Guatemala as an attempt by the government of President Otto Pérez Molina to divert attention from growing unrest over the genocide trial.
We Maya have a memory that stretches back millennia and we do not forget our history. For this reason, we will fight tirelessly to protect the evidence of genocide, since there is technical, scientific and juridical proof that genocide and crimes against humanity occurred in our country. The crimes were committed under the highest military command and other authority that here and now hinders the judgement, putting at risk the Rule of Law, Democracy and Peace. We demand that the Constitutional Court comply with the decisions it issues, since it does not fall to the court to interfere in the actions of the judges and courts where standard trial proceedings are followed – as in this case – and it limits the possibility of prosecution of other serious crimes committed in this country.
Related: Watch "Dictator in the Dock," a web documentary series by the filmmakers behind "Granito" and "When the Mountains Tremble."