Today you have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz competing over how horrible America's torture will be if they get elected - That's because generations of American human rights violators have gone free after they instituted their own programs of assassination, kidnapping and torture.
18 Former Guatemalan Military Officers Arrested for Crimes Against Humanity
By Annie Bird
Guatemalan authorities have arrested at least 18 high-ranking Guatemalan military officers yesterday on charges of crimes against humanity and forced disappearance, according to local press reports.
The arrests include retired generals Benedicto Lucas Garcia, head of the military under his now-deceased brother and former dictator Romeo Lucas Garcia, and Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, long known for his high-level positions during the dirty war and his concurrent management of organized crime networks.
The crimes with which they are charged were part of operations conducted from a military base in the department of Coban between 1981 and 1988, including acts that formed part of the Maya Achi genocide. Exhumations at the base in 2012 recovered remains from over 550 victims–a fraction of the tens of thousands of killings the military is believed to have conducted in Alta and Baja Verapaz from that base but an important step in gathering evidence.
Arrests are ongoing. In a press conference Jan. 6, prosecutors declined to provide specific information regarding pending warrants. Journalists suggested that as many as 25 warrants exist. Initial hearings are expected to begin this Friday. There is no possibility of release pending trial on these charges.
These prosecutions are the result of over 20 years of efforts by the victims, coupled with hard-fought gains in cleaning up corruption in the justice system promoted by human rights and judicial reform activists. ADIVIMA, the association of Maya Achi genocide victims, is a co-complainant in the prosecution, along with the national victims associations, the Association of Relatives of the Detained/Disappeeared in Guatemala (FAMDEGUA) and the Mutual Support Group (GAM).
Unearthing Crimes of the Past and Present
The retired general who was in charge of the Coban base during much of the violence, Ricardo Mendez Ruiz, would undoubtedly have been among those arrested today had he not died on January 1, 2016. Mendez Ruiz maintained a high profile in Guatemala over the past several years due to the activities of his son of the same name. The younger Ricardo Mendez Ruiz is director of the Foundation Against Terrorism, which has promoted malicious legal complaints against those pursuing justice for the crimes committed during Guatemala’s dirty war–a form of political persecution backed by influential retired military officers.
Concern for the safety of those pursuing justice in Guatemala is heightened as the incoming president, Jimmy Morales, a founder of the National Convergence Front (FCN) party, is set to take office on January 14. Guatemala’s last elected president, Otto Perez Molina, was forced to resign in September 2015 to face corruption charges, and his party, the Partido Patriota (PP), partially collapsed in the scandal. Analysts described the FCN as the Plan B for the political networks that formerly backed the PP. The FCN and PP are both dominated by retired military officers.
The newly elected congress convened its first session yesterday. On the first day of the lawmakers four-year term, Congress was asked by prosecutors to impeach the newly elect FCN congressman and former military officer, Edgar Justino Ovalle Maldonado, so he can face charges of crimes against humanity and forced disappearance.
Concerns over the safety of justice advocates have heightened since the arrests. The former military men arrested today have close ties to Guatemala’s organized crime networks. Criminal groups in complicity with politicians operate regionally in Central America’s “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and are largely responsible for some of the highest murder rates in the world.