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Ronald Reagan's Role in Guatemala's Genocide

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Rios MonttGuatemala is taking steps to hold an ex-dictator accountable for genocide committed against Maya-Ixil Indians in the 1980s, even as the United States continues to honor the American president — Ronald Reagan — who helped make that genocide possible.

A Guatemalan judge orderedEfraín Ríos Montt to appear in court on Thursday in what could be the start of a process for trying the former military dictator on genocide charges for authorizing scorched-earth campaigns against Maya-Ixil villages suspected of sympathizing with leftist guerrillas.

In the late 1990s, a United Nations truth commission investigated the slaughters, which involved the killing of men, women and children, and labeled the massacres carried out during Ríos Montt’s 17-month reign in 1982 and 1983 as “genocide.” Two of Ríos Montt’s generals were arrested on war crimes and genocide charges last year.

However, while Guatemala, though beset by many serious problems including widespread poverty, takes politically difficult steps to impose some accountability on these war criminals, the U.S. politician most associated with Ríos Montt and his genocide, remains the subject of endless adoration.

The mere mention of Ronald Reagan’s name at Republican presidential debates is a sure-fire applause line; the American people are reminded over and over how the former actor made them “feel good”; he’s credited with “winning” the Cold War though he actually may have prolonged it; his centennial birthday in 2011 was celebrated with lavish speeches and fawning documentaries; and a new Reagan statue was recently unveiled at Washington’s airport, which has been renamed in his honor.

TVNL Comment:  This is just one chapter in recent American history that is never taught, and rarely is discussed.  Reagan remains a great hero to most Americans.  How sad is that?  Just asking...

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