Thursday, September 03, 2015

Guatemalan President Resigns: Faces Corruption Charges

Guatemalan President Resigns: Faces Corruption Charges

by Stephen Lendman

Following an attorney general arrest warrant against him, Otto Perez Molina resigned. His spokesman Jorge Ortega said he submitted his resignation at midnight Wednesday local time - “to maintain the institution of the presidency and resolve on his own the legal proceedings leveled against him.”

They’re unrelated to his sordid past - when known as “Major Tito” for involvement in genocidal slaughter of indigenous Ixil Indians in 1982.    

Journalist Allan Nairn explained he was one of the US-backed generals responsible for “massacres that devastated the Mayan population of the northwest highlands.”

He’s a former and likely current CIA asset - vulnerable to prosecution “for the mass murders he helped preside over while carrying out the program of genocide of General Rios Montt,” Nairn explained.

On May 10, 2013, he was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity - sentenced to 80 years in prison, the first former Guatemalan leader to be convicted of these high crimes in his own country.

His trial lasted five weeks. Over 100 witnesses testified. They included psychologists, military experts, and Maya Ixil Indian survivors. They explained Montt's scorched earth policy - slaughtering tens of thousands, destroying hundreds of villages. 

Molina was directly involved - thus far never held accountable. He and Montt were trained at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA) - now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), notoriously known as the school of assassins.

Repressive tactics taught include ways to kill, maim, torture, oppress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrow democratically elected governments, assassinate targeted leaders, suppress popular resistance, and work cooperatively with Washington to solidify fascist rule.

Graduates are guilty of arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, suspension of civil liberties, martial law, indefinite detentions, beatings, torture, sodomizing men, gang-raping women, suppression of dissent, and death squad mass murders.

Ten days after Montt’s conviction, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court overturned it, voiding proceedings back to April 19, ordering trial “reset” from that point.

It resumed in January 2015 - then  ended because of the presiding judge’s views on genocide in an academic thesis. A new trial was set for July. It may never occur after doctors claimed he’s medically incapable of understanding charges against him.

Molina is accused of grand theft - masterminding a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars related to a customs fraud ring. On Tuesday, Guatemala’s Congress unanimously stripped him of immunity from prosecution.

Prosecutors and a UN commission uncovered a so-called “La Linea (the Line)” scheme - involving businesses paying bribes to avoid customs duties amounting to millions of dollars.

On Wednesday, Public Prosecutor Thelma Aldana said “(t)here’s a criminal case and we will go to trial, and then a verdict. In my opinion and based on what I know of the case, it will have to be a conviction.”

Nairn explained under Guatemalan law, ordinary people can file criminal charges in court. Stripped of his immunity, anyone can charge Molina of involvement of indigenous Mayan massacres.

If it happens, Nairn urged prosecutors to follow the “trail of blood” leading to Washington. US sponsors bear direct responsibility for genocidal slaughter.

In 1996, Guatemala's 34-year genocidal war ended. A previous article explained the following:

In February 1999, the Historical Clarification Commission (aka truth and justice reconciliation commission) issued a detailed report titled "Guatemala, Memory of Silence."

It documented decades of genocide, torture and other atrocities. Most victims were indigenous Mayans. Guatemalan and US officials bore full responsibility.

Around 9,200 witnesses on all sides of the conflict provided evidence. The commission concluded that Guatemala's military, security forces, and paramilitary units were responsible for 93% of human rights abuses and deaths.

Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union guerrillas were involved in only 3%. In another 4% of cases, responsibility couldn't be determined.

According to the report:

"The massacres that eliminated entire Mayan villages are neither perfidious allegations nor figments of the imagination, but an authentic chapter in Guatemala's history."

"The majority of human rights violations occurred with the knowledge or by order of the highest authorities of the state." 

"The responsibility for a large part of these violations, with respect to the chain of military command as well as the political and administrative responsibility, reaches the highest levels of the army and successive governments."

Massacres were politically motivated. "Believing that the ends justified everything, the military and state security forces blindly pursued the anti-Communist struggle, without respect for any legal principles or the most elemental ethical and religious values, and in this way completely lost any semblance of human morals."

The worst atrocities occurred on Montt's watch. In 1982, he launched Operation Sofia. Military and security forces committed hundreds of massacres. 

Around 600 Mayan villages were destroyed. Systematic genocide was official policy. During his tenure, around 70,000 civilians were murdered or disappeared. Hundreds of thousands were internally displaced.

Over half of those slaughtered were in El Quiche. Ixil Mayans lost from 70 - 90% of their villages. Washington provided generous support. Reagan was president. General Alexander Haig was Secretary of State.

From 1981 - 1983, International/European Law Professor Emeritus Christian Tomuschat called Guatemalan policy "acts of genocide against groups of the Mayan people."

For over two decades, Washington supported it. "Up until the mid-1980s, there was strong pressure from the US government and US companies to maintain the country's archaic and unjust economic structure," he said.

US administrations knew about genocide, torture and other atrocities. They encouraged them. 

During the 1960s, Washington equipped and trained Guatemalan security forces. Declassified US intelligence documents revealed CIA and Pentagon involvement. 

Throughout the 1980s, close US-Guatemalan ties remained. Scorched earth dirty war targeted indigenous Mayans, resistance guerrillas, and suspected allies.

The region was embroiled in conflict. Death squad justice was official policy. Washington-backed Contras battled Nicaragua's Sandinista government. El Salvadoran fascists were supported.

Throughout the decade, weapons, munitions, training, and destabilizing covert operations supported despots over freedom. Resistance fighters and indigenous populations were targeted.

Guatemala's conflict lasted longest. Washington fueled and supported it. All US administrations have blood on their hands. It reflects imperialism's dark side. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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