Guatemala City

May 16, 2013

Statement by Guatemalan organizations of the Breaking the Silence network regarding the sentence against General José Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide.

Gathered in Guatemala City on May 15 and 16, a group of Guatemalan organizations, members of the Breaking the Silence Network, declare the following:

We consider that in order to achieve true peace and reconciliation, it is necessary to bring intellectual and material authors of crimes against humanity and genocide against inhabitants of indigenous territories to trial.

We recognize the historic importance of the sentence issued on May 10 of this year against the former head of state José Efraín Ríos Montt. This sentence is a very important step towards strengthening our emerging democracy and rule of law. We also recognize the international significance of this sentence, being the first time in Latin America that a former head of state is tried for crimes against humanity and genocide in the country where the crimes were committed.

We recognize the struggle that victims and survivors have led in order to reach this historical moment. As members of the communities that were victims of genocide, we are concerned that claims that the struggle for justice is led by the international community are being used as a way to delegitimize this struggle. This is a just and legitimate struggle that has been led by victims’ families and survivors of the genocide and the organizations that accompany them.

We are concerned that some parties have made declarations on the sentence attempting to change its course or put pressure on the Judiciary to revert it. In particular, we denounce the use of a polarizing discourse that adopts the same logic as the so-called armed conflict and threatens to revert to a system of repression against the population in general, leaders of social movements, and indigenous communities.

Remilitarization and the establishment of new military zones and bases show a return to the country’s repressive past as part of the current government’s strategy to criminalize the people’s social struggles, made evident most recently in four municipalities in Jalapa and Santa Rosa. The state of siege implemented in these municipalities coincided with the intention to nullify the process against Ríos Montt, which affected the interests of the military as well as the current government.

On account of this, we demand:

1.Respect for the independence and autonomy of institutions responsible for administering justice and upholding constitutional order.

2. Respect for victims’ right to demand justice, and that these demands be heard by Guatemalan courts.

3. That the Guatemalan State implement the reparation measures ordered by the High Risk Sentencing Tribunal “A”.

4. That the Guatemalan State guarantee the security and life of all parties that were involved in the process, especially witnesses and their families, organizations who supported the prosecution of the case, the public prosecutors, as well as the trial judges.

5. Respect for ancestral forms of decision making, free from criminalization and repression.


Breaking the Silence network partners:

Asociación Bufete Jurídico Popular de Rabinal

Asociación para la Promoción y el Desarrollo de la Comunidad – CEIBA

Comité Campesino del Altiplano – CCDA

Fundación Nueva Esperanza – Rio Negro

Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura – IMAP

Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas – UNAMG