Rios Montt continued

These two letters to the editor of the New York Times express two different points of view regarding the Rios Montt trial. I personally agree, strongly, with the sentiments expressed by the second writer, John T. Bennett of Alexandria, Virginia, a Foreign Service officer posted in Guatemala in 1979. But please read both letters and form your own opinion! Bennett’s letter is below. To read the first letter, you will need to click on the link.

To the Editor:

Your article about the reversal of the conviction of Guatemala’s former dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, finally begins to provide a more nuanced look at the case (“Trial of Ex-Dictator of Guatemala May Have to Restart,” news article, May 22). Missing, however, is the role of race, as Guatemala has long been dominated socially, politically and economically by Europeans and their offspring.

The Mayan majority remains unchanged but is exploited through the intermediary of a partly modernized class of Mayans detached from their racial roots. The army, run by the dominant Europeans, reflects the same class and racial mix.

Much of the character of the country reflects the evolution of its dominant economic interests — mining, sugar and coffee. Those interests reinforce European dominance, so many were surprised by General Ríos Montt’s conviction, but not by its reversal.

JOHN T. BENNETT
Alexandria, Va., May 22, 2013

The writer, a Foreign Service officer, was chargé d’affaires in the United States Embassy in Guatemala in 1979.

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