Throughout the trial of Efrain Rios Montt in Guatemala, the US mainstream media have painstakingly avoided seeing the elephant in the living room—complicity by the US Empire. This goes back to 1954 when President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán was overthrown by the CIA. Árbenz had a plan to buy land from the United Fruit Company, which owned 42% of the arable land of the entire country, at fair market value and then allow Guatemalan peasants to farm it.
United Fruit (now Chiquita Banana) went bananas (pun intended), even though this was land they were not using, and had President Eisenhower overthrow the democratically elected government and replace it with a military dictatorship which served United Fruit, rather than the Guatemalan people. Thereafter, the government began a slaughter of its people estimated to be some 250,000, and Montt was one of the slayers, just last week convicted.
But since our leaders put these scumbags in office, don’t they share in the responsibility for human rights violations? There are a lot of Americans who supported the policy, working in the State Department and CIA as well as the White House and the Pentagon that deserve to be imprisoned every bit as much as Montt.
It is well documented that CIA agents on the ground in Guatemala witnessed the torture and murder. Will this be another example of the Empire’s thugs being too big to jail? —Jack Balkwill
As this piece on the Common Dreams website notes, “President Ronald Reagan called Rios Montt ‘a man of great personal integrity and commitment.’ ”