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Rios-Montt sentenced to 80 years for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

The trial of General José Efrain Ríos-Montt in Guatemala has ended and he has been found guilty! This trial was historic for being the first time in which a head of state was tried by the judicial system of his own country (not an international tribunal) for genocide. This process, which began in 1999, is a milestone for indigenous people everywhere and a victory for the Ixil Maya who suffered torture, disappearances, displacement and mass-murder during his brief but brutal reign of terror. Ríos-Montt was sentenced Friday, 10 May, for a total of 80 years — 50 years for Genocide and 30 years for Crimes Against Humanity for overseeing the deaths of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Maya during the U.S.-Ronald Reagan-backed "scorched earth" campaign his military dictatorship embarked upon during his dictatorship from March 23, 1982, to Aug. 8, 1983. His plans to eliminate leftist guerrilla forces in the Guatemalan civil war, as well as everyone suspected of supporting the guerrillas' objectives, lead directly to the deaths of thousands of indigenous Maya. Of the estimated 200,000 people who were killed or forcibly disappeared during the course of three-decades of conflict, an overwhelming majority were indigenous Maya.

The Guatemalan non-governmental organization Association for Justice and Reconciliation, who filed the original complaint against Ríos-Montt in 1999, also filed complaints against several other military officers, including the Head of Intelligence of Ríos-Montt 's military junta: José Mauricio Rodríguez-Sánchez. Rodríguez-Sánchez was found not guilty. The trial of Ríos-Montt and Rodríguez-Sánchez began March 19, 2013. During the several weeks of testimony from victims and their families (many of whom testified in their indigenous language), soldiers and experts, even current Guatemalan President Otto Perez-Molina has been implicated in these massacres.

The victory for the Maya is a victory for indigenous people everywhere.