Guatemala: Ex-Dictator Runs for Congress

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt announced last week that he would run for Congress in September.

"I am certain and sure" of getting a seat in Congress, Rios Montt told a news conference.

If elected, Rios Montt would be immune from prosecution for human rights crimes committed during his reign (1982-1983), which many believe to be one of the bloodiest times during the country’s 36-year civil war. He is believed to be responsible for executing a scorched earth campaign against Guatemala’s Mayan population, resulting in massacres, disappearances, torture, terror and genocide.

Amnesty International USA USA (AIUSA) called for him to face trial in Guatemala or be extradited to Spain, where there is an international warrant for his arrest.

"If Guatemala truly plans to get tough on impunity, as signaled by a recent agreement signed with the United Nations to establish the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, it should start by brining Ríos Montt to trial in Guatemala, or extraditing him to Spain to face the charges against him," said Renata Rendón, AIUSA’s Advocacy Director for the Americas.