Indicted for Genocide: Guatemala’s Efraín Ríos Montt

The photographs of Guatemala’s disappeared spell “Justice” and “Genocide” on a fence near the Public Ministry’s headquarters in Guatemala City. (Credit: H.I.J.O.S.)
Indicted for Genocide: Guatemala’s Efraín Ríos Montt
U.S. and Guatemalan Documents Trace Dictator’s Rise to Power
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 419

Posted – March 19, 2013
Edited by Kate Doyle

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2013 – The groundbreaking genocide trial of Efraín Ríos Montt, retired army general and former dictator of Guatemala, opens today with the presentation of the prosecution’s first witnesses. The trial will take place despite repeated efforts by defense lawyers to halt the proceedings with legal appeals and a bid for amnesty. On March 12, the Constitutional Court rejected the amnesty request once and for all, clearing the way for the trial to begin.

Along with his former intelligence chief, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, Ríos Montt stands accused of masterminding a violent counterinsurgency campaign during his 1982-83 regime that sought to destroy opposing guerrilla forces and anyone who supported them. The indictment accuses the two men of responsibility for fifteen documented massacres in the Ixil region of the country’s Quiché department, resulting in the deaths of 1,771 unarmed men, women and children (…)
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB419/

For ongoing trial summaries, commentary and analysis, see a new Website launched by the Open Society Justice Initiative in partnership with the National Security Archive, the International Center for Transitional Justice, CEJIL and the Guatemalan on-line news site Plaza Pública: http://www.riosmontt-trial.org/

Operation Condor on Trial: legal Proceedings in Latin American Rendition and Assassination Program open in Buenos Aires

OPERATION CONDOR ON TRIAL:
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS ON LATIN AMERICAN RENDITION AND ASSASSINATION PROGRAM OPEN IN BUENOS AIRES

National Security Archive Posts CIA, DIA and State Department Intelligence Reports Provided to Argentine Prosecutors
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 416
Posted – March 8, 2013
Edited by Carlos Osorio

Washington, D.C., March 8, 2013 – Former military officers from Argentina and Uruguay went on trial this week in Buenos Aires for their human rights abuses in Operation Condor, a cross-border conspiracy of dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s to “eradicate ‘subversion,’ a word which increasingly translates into non-violent dissent from the left and center left,” according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive ( www.nsarchive.org).

Today’s posting of documents and evidence provided by the Archive to Argentine prosecutors includes the first briefing report, from August 1976, to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the secret police collaboration in the Southern Cone to “find and kill” opponents of their military regimes.

“The documents are very useful in establishing a comprehensive analytical framework of what Operation Condor was,” said Pablo Enrique Ouvina, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Founded by the Pinochet regime in November 1975, Operation Condor was the codename for a formal Southern Cone collaboration that included transnational secret intelligence activities, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and assassination, according to the National Security Archive’s documentary evidence from U.S., Paraguayan, Argentine, and Chilean files.

Prominent victims of Condor include two former Uruguayan legislators and a former Bolivian president, Juan Torres, murdered in Buenos Aires, as well as former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his 26-year old American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C.

The historic trial charges 25 high-ranking military officials, including former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, with conspiracy to “kidnap, disappear, torture and kill” 171 opponents of the military dictatorships that dominated the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the victims are approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans and a dozen from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who were targeted by Condor operatives. The kidnapping and disappearance of two Cuban Consulate officials in Buenos Aires on August 9, 1976, is also part of the prosecution.

“Condor was a latter day rendition, torture and assassination program,” noted Carlos Osorio, who directs the Archive’s Southern Cone Documentation project. “Holding these officials accountable for the multinational crimes of Condor,” he said, “cannot help but set a precedent for more recent abuses of a similar nature.”

Besides Generals Videla and Bignone, those indicted included 22 Argentine military intelligence officers and agents. In preparation for the trial, prosecutors sought the extradition of several foreign high ranking officers from Chile and Paraguay among other Condor countries. The only foreigner sitting at the courtroom, however, is Uruguayan Army Major Manuel Cordero, charged with participating in death squads and torture at the infamous Orletti Motors secret detention center in Buenos Aires. He was extradited by Brazil where he was living.

Of the 171 Condor victims cited in the indictments, approximately forty-two survived and a number of them are expected to testify in court. One hundred twenty others were killed and/or disappeared.

DOCUMENTS

Chile – Oscars: Declassified Documents Tell History Behind Best Foreign Film Nomination, “No”

“No” Film
OSCARS: DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS TELL HISTORY BEHIND BEST FOREIGN FILM NOMINATION, “NO”
ONCE SECRET CIA, DEFENSE AND STATE DEPARTMENT RECORDS FILL IN GAPS IN CHILEAN FILM DEPICTING MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO OUST GENERAL AUGUSTO PINOCHET

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 413
Posted – February 22, 2013 Edited by Peter Kornluh

http://www.nsarchive.org

Washington, D.C., February 22, 2013 — Chilean ruler General Augusto Pinochet intended to use violence to annul the October 1988 plebiscite that ended his lengthy military dictatorship, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive in order to fill in the historical gaps of the Oscar-nominated film, “NO.”

With the Oscars approaching on February 24, the Archive posting includes formerly top secret records that provide new details about the history of the “Campaign of the NO” in Chile–the dynamic political movement that eventually led to Pinochet’s loss of the presidency. The documents include highly classified warnings from the U.S. military attache that Pinochet intended to use violence to sustain himself in power if the NO won the October 5, 1988, plebiscite; a CIA report on Pinochet’s “apoplectic” reaction to the vote; as well as private records relating to the voter registration drive that was critical to the electoral victory to remove Chile’s 15-year old military regime.

Nominated for best foreign film, “NO” has received widespread acclaim from movie reviewers. Writing in the New Yorker, critic Anthony Lane noted that “the title is a downer but the movie lifts you up;” he called “NO” “the best film ever made about Chilean plebiscites.” But like “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Argo,” and “Lincoln,” which also examine historical events, “NO” has been criticized for misrepresenting and omitting key elements of the history it depicts.

As the movie indicates, Pinochet’s ouster at the polls was an inspirational event, a rare victory of good over evil, brought about by Chileans for Chileans. As a historic event, it demands to be understood. The complexity of the story is not depicted on screen. But the fact that the movie is being recognized at the Oscars, and now being seen around the world, cannot help but draw attention to the fuller story of the Campaign of the NO, which is included in this dramatic documentation now available on the National Security Archive’s website.

THE DOCUMENTS

Document 1: State Department, “Preparations Accelerating for Plebiscite” August 3, 1988

Document 2: State Department, Confidential, “The Chilean Plebiscite: Sitrep 2,” August 12, 1988 (original missing p. 5)

Document 3: Greer, Margolis, Mitchell & Associates, “Campana para la Inscripcion en Los Registros Electorales” (Campaign for Electoral Registration) ca 1987

Document 4: Defense Intelligence Agency, Top Secret Zarf Umbra, Chile: Contingency Plans,” October 4, 1988

Document 5: State Department, “The Chilean Plebiscite, Sitrep 4,” October 6, 1988

Document 6: CIA, [Informant Report on Pinochet’s auto coup plan for the plebiscite] November 18, 1988

Document 7: Defense Intelligence Agency, Secret ExDis, “Chile: Plebiscite Goes Forward as Pinochet Apparently Loses,” October 6, 1988

Document 8: Defense Intelligence Agency: Secret, “Chilean Junta Meeting, the Night of the Plebiscite,” January 1, 1989

Document 9: State Department, Confidential, “The Chilean Plebiscite, Sitrep Eight,” October 7, 1988

The University of Texas at Austin – Documentos Digitalizados del Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala

Lillas

A product of broad international collaboration, these digitized documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) aim to facilitate scholarly and legal research into a vast cache of historical documentation. The discovery of the National Police Historical Archive in 2005 opened an extensive and timely resource for the study of Guatemalan history and human rights in the region, spanning a broad array of topics from Guatemala’s armed conflict between 1960 and 1996 to the sexually transmitted disease experiments performed at the behest of the United States government in the 1940s. The Archive is presented online here for the first time.

This site currently includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.

To make best use of this resource, we suggest taking some time to read the tutorial and examples found on the About this Site page, learning the organizational structure of the National Police, and then patiently exploring the archive. This is not a full text search engine like Google, but rather the digital iteration of what you would encounter working in the massive paper archive in Guatemala. When you go to an archive, you will seldom find the exact document you are looking for right away. It will often take many hours of investigation to find relevant documents, if they exist at all. This Archive is arranged in accordance with the professional archival principles of provenance and original order to reflect the Guatemalan National Police administrative structure, and understanding that structure is a valuable way to start.

AHPN: Digitized Documents is a collaborative project of the University of Texas’ Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and Benson Latin American Collection, with the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala. We hope this resource will serve to promote a better understanding of the social and political history of Guatemala and will facilitate the search for truth and respect for human rights in the region.

http://ahpn.lib.utexas.edu/