Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh really?

This week, thanks to newly declassified documents, we learned that the Reagan administration was fully up-to-speed with the extent of human rights violations in 80s Guatemala, even as the actor-turned-president overturned Carter's military embargo against the military regimes down here.

In December 1982, Reagan had a meeting with Efrain Ríos Montt and described him as like, "totally dedicated to democracy." (Doesn't that usually involve elections?) Reagan dismissed reports that Ríos Montt's regime was ruthlessly violating human rights with his infamous remark that the General had been getting a "bum rap."

Whilst publicly blaming insurgents for the majority of the violence a State Department report in February '84 observed that "Government security services have employed assassination to eliminate persons suspected of involvement with the guerrillas or who are otherwise left-wing in orientation." Two years later another State Department document, marked 'Secret' acknowledged that "there is a gap between the rhetoric of justice and the reality of violence in Guatemalan society."

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