Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Genocide Trial -- In the Streets, and the Land's Highest Court

The day began (for me) with a twitter photo posted by a local radio station from a listener who took a shot of a bus with a mantle saying, "Hairy hippies and foreigners: Don't make money with the lie of genocide of Ixil people in Nebaj." When I caught up, buses were discharging hundreds onto a main thoroughfare.  The indigenous Maya wore the distinctive clothing of the biggest town of the Ixil triangle, Nebaj. Thousands died in the region during the administration (1982-1983) of Guatemalan Gen. José Efrain Rios Montt, who has been on trial for genocide until proceedings were suspended last week on a technicality.

The take-away message from hours spent with the demonstrators was that development, and the process to obtain reparations for damages suffered during the war, were being sidetracked by the genocide trial.  There was no genocide, but rather the inevitable, lamentable suffering brought about by both armed groups, guerrilla and army.  The international community came in for special venom as manipulators of the tragedy, for its efforts to support the trial.
"Donors, quit financing manipulators."
"International Community: It's a lie to say that there was genocide in Nebaj."

"I am Ixil and I want to be a witness," said printed signs handed out near the Torre de Reforma. From there participants walked about half a mile to the Supreme Court, and later in the morning, another mile to the Constitutional Court.  Inside, magistrates were considering a ruling on whether the trial would go forward. 

 Ricardo Mendez Ruiz, President of the Foundation Against Terrorism, which includes former army officers and others against the genocide trial, at the march.

By day's end Constitutional Court spokesman Martín Guzman delivered the magistrates' decision supporting a judge's decision last week to "annul" the present trial, handing reporters a 45-page document. Referring to where the trial goes from here, Guzman said several times, "It's complex." The following days are expected to bring some clarity as to whether the trial goes forth in any form.