Chilling Details From The Dos Erres Massacre

In 2013, charges were also brought in Guatemala against former president General José Efraín Ríos Montt. According to “Understanding Central America” by John A. Booth, Christine J. Wade, and Thomas W. Walker, Ríos Montt was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Dos Erres massacre as well as the forced displacement, rape, and murder of thousands of Maya Ixil people.

On May 10, 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. But although he was sentenced to 80 years in prison, 10 days later the Constitutional Court claimed that there had been procedural errors and after partially annulling the verdict, they ordered the original trial to resume with new closing arguments. The trial was repeatedly delayed and ultimately Ríos Montt died while under house arrest in 2018 at the age of 91, waiting for the trial to resume. However, NISGUA writes that in September 2018, a tribunal “unanimously declared that the military committed genocide against Mayan peoples from 1982-1983, essentially confirming the validity of the original decision against Ríos Montt.”

Although Ríos Montt’s head of military intelligence, José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, was also similarly charged, he was acquitted on the same day, writes Judging a Dictator. And during the 2018 tribunal, Sánchez was found not guilty. In her dissent, Judge Sara Yoc Yoc stated, “Who determined [the Ixil people] were the enemy? Who carried out the intelligence? HE DID!”