Guatemala: Genocide in Our Hemisphere event D.C. May 29 with scholars, survivors; Xeni moderating

Benjamin Manuel Geronimo, massacre survivor, and representative of Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), speaking in the genocide trial in Guatemala City on May 9, 2010.

On Wednesday, May 29, I will be among the moderators at a very special event in Washington, DC at the New America Foundation, "Genocide in Our Hemisphere: Justice and Reconciliation in Guatemala Beyond the Conviction of General Ríos Montt." Featured speakers at the event include scholars, massacre survivors, and people who were directly involved in the genocide trial of Ríos Montt, which ended with a guilty verdict on May 10, only to be thrown out ten days later in an unprecedented move by Guatemala's Constitutional Court.

More on the event below. It's from 2-5pm. Attendance is free, but you must sign up online.

On May 10, 2013, Guatemala made history when General Efraín Ríos Montt became the first former head of state to be tried and convicted for genocide in the courts of his own country.

The trial revisited one of the most brutal cases of government repression in the Western Hemisphere—a 34-year civil conflict forged by the Cold War in which military-dominated regimes engaged in the systematic killing, rape, torture, and abuse of its own people. By the war's end in 1996, an estimated 200,000 people had been killed, and 1.5 million had been displaced.

On May 20, 2013, Guatemala's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of challenges to the proceedings filed by Ríos Montt's attorneys. It is unclear whether the case will be re-tried or whether only certain aspects of the case will be heard again. What this will mean for the defendants, for Guatemala and for the word remains uncertain.

The conviction of Ríos Montt decades after he lead Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war provides a critical opportunity to reckon with questions about the country's often-overlooked genocide. What does the trial and conviction of Ríos Montt mean for the people of Guatemala? What lessons can be learned from this case about prosecuting other leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity? And what responsibility does the United States bear for policies that supported and enabled brutal regimes in Guatemala, in other Latin American nations and around the world?

This event is co-sponsored by the New America Foundation, Arizona State University's School of Politics & Global Studies and Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, as well as CUNY/Lehman College's Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies and the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews.


1:45 p.m. Registration and Coffee

2:00 p.m. Why Have We Heard About Pol Pot and Pinochet, but Not Ríos Montt?

Daniel Rothenberg
Professor of Practice, Lincoln Fellow for Ethics and International Human
Rights Law, Arizona State University

2:10 p.m. A Crime Against Us All: The Importance of Acknowledging Genocide

Aryeh Neier
President Emeritus, Open Society Foundations

2:35 p.m. The Ríos Montt Trial: What Led to the Historic Conviction?

Susie Kemp
International Human Rights Lawyer

Otto Argueta
Historian, Institute of Latin American Studies, German Institute of
Global and Area Studies

Edgar Alvarez
Lawyer for genocide survivors, Association for Justice and Reconciliation

Julia Lieblich
Assistant Professor of Journalism, Loyola University Chicago

3:15 p.m. Using Data to Prosecute Genocide

Patrick Ball
Director, Human Rights Data Analysis Group

Marta Elena Casaus
Professor of History, Autonomous University, Madrid, Spain
Expert Witness at the Trial

3:40 p.m. Building Peace After Genocide

Benjamin Manuel Geronimo
Massacre Survivor
Representative, Association for Justice and Reconciliation

Roddy Brett
Lecturer, Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies, School of International
Relations, University of St. Andrews

Xeni Jardin
Journalist, Boing Boing

4:20 p.m. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in the Guatemalan Tragedy

Victoria Sanford
Professor, CUNY/Lehman College, Director, Center for Human Rights and
Peace Studies

Kate Doyle
Senior Analyst of U.S. Policy in Latin America, National Security Archive

Aryeh Neier
President Emeritus, Open Society Foundations

Jose Carlos Marroquin
Journalist and Publisher, La Hora newspaper