The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) delivered over a thousand letters from 23 countries to Guatemala’s Attorney General’s office on Monday. The signatories urged the Attorney General to accelerate the cases against Efraín Ríos Montt and other former military officers for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
They argued that the lack of progress in these cases has forced victims to resort to a judicial system beyond Guatemala’s borders in search of justice.
Letters have poured in from people throughout the United States and 22 other countries who are concerned with questions of justice and the establishment of peace in Guatemala.
The signatories stressed that Attorney General Juan Luis Florido would go down in history "either as the Attorney General who allowed impunity to reign, or as the Attorney General who courageously made history by pushing these benchmark cases forward."
Chris Hansen, a NISGUA Board Member present at the meeting, expressed, "These cases have stagnated for more than seven years in Guatemala’s judicial system. The massive quantity of letters to the Attorney General demonstrates the international community’s increasing impatience for justice. As long as the intellectual authors of the genocide enjoy impunity, there will be neither reconciliation nor sustainable peace."
Former NISGUA accompanier Neela Ghoshal stated, "I came from Connecticut to meet with the Attorney General’s office because I personally know survivors of the war. Even today, they suffer severe trauma due to the atrocities the regime inflicted on their communities."
The Association for Justice and Reconciliation initiated cases against former dictators Romeo Lucas García, Ríos Montt, and their high commands in Guatemala’s judicial system in 2000 and 2001. Ríos Montt and members of his administration are also undergoing extradition proceedings due to arrest warrants issued last year by Spain’s highest criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, in response to charges levied in Spain. Nevertheless, Ríos Montt is currently a candidate in the September 2007 elections for the Guatemalan Congress.
The letters submitted by NISGUA reference two international statements: a European Union Parliamentary resolution and a letter from United States Congress members. Both documents stress the importance of bringing to light and prosecuting crimes committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.
NISGUA is a grassroots human rights organization with members throughout the United States. NISGUA has accompanied the Association for Justice and Reconciliation throughout the legal process since the filing of cases against ex-dictators Lucas García and Ríos Montt and their high commands in Guatemala’s judicial system in 2000 and 2001.