December 3, 2013
Earlier this year, a Guatemalan court convicted former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt of overseeing acts of genocide against Guatemala’s Ixil Mayan population in 1982 and 1983. The verdict was based on the testimony of ninety-five indigenous witnesses from the Ixil area. Despite their horrifying accounts of what happened to them and their families, some Ixils and K’iche’s object to the verdict because they credit Ríos Montt with saving their lives. Was Ríos Montt’s “amnesty” for guerrilla supporters a significant element of what happened in the Ixil area? Should it have played a greater role in the trial? Is “genocide” the best description of what happened there?
Guests on the show:
David Stoll is an anthropologist who has been working with the people of northern Quiché since the 1980s. Following the verdict against Ríos Montt, Stoll spent two weeks interviewing Ixils, K’iche’s and Ladinos in Nebaj. The weekly magazine Contrapoder has just published his analysis of what Nebajenses told him, as well as of the testimony of the trial witnesses. His most recent book is El Norte or Bust! How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Guatemalan Town.
Jean-Marie Simon, a graduate of Harvard Law School, worked in Guatemala from 1980 to 1991. She wrote and co-authored six human reports for Human Rights Watch/NY. Her book, Guatemala: Eternal Spring-Eternal Tyranny (WW Norton 1987), depicts the height of Guatemala's internal armed conflict.