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Published on November 27th, 2012 | by Brittney Hodnik

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Guatemalans Struggle to Overcome Atrocities of Rios Montt, Violence, Natural Disasters

By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — In January 2012, former president, General Efrain Rios Montt was arrested and formally charged with ordering genocides throughout the country of Guatemala.  Although he is no longer in power, the country is still struggling with violence, drugs, and poverty.

Men, women, and children suffer from violence and natural disasters in Guatemala with little help in sight. (Image Courtesy of The Examiner/Getty Images)

 Under the reign of Rios Montt, hundreds of innocent men, women and children were killed.  Soldiers under Montt’s control raped women in front of their children.  Soldiers forced many teens to join the “civil self-defense group” and if they did not, the soldiers assumed they were guerillas, according to Amnesty International.

Peace accords were signed in 1990, and a minimal investigation into the thousands of murders began.  Current President, retired General Otto Perez Molina is trying to cover up the genocide, reports Amnesty International.  Although the country seems to be in a much better place, it is still struggling with high crime rates and violence, and also plagued by a bit of bad luck.

Last week, seven men were killed execution style at a medical complex in Guatemala City, according to Fox News.  It is believed that the Zeta drug cartel is responsible for the violence.  The Zeta drug gang moved from Mexico to Guatemala in 2008, reports Fox News and has caused problems for the country ever since.

According to Fox News, Guatemala has an average of 16 homicides a day.  It is considered one of Latin America’s most violent countries because of the local gang activity and other organized crime.

Besides the violence and drugs, Guatemala has fallen prey to Mother Nature.  Since November 7, 2012, Guatemala has felt over 100 earthquakes – most markedly the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on November 7 destroying much of the infrastructure there.  The Examiner reports that other natural disasters including floods, mudslides, volcanoes, and hurricanes have also devastated the country of 15 million people.

Guatemala’s economic situation is a problem when it comes to recovery.  The majority of the population does not have insurance and must rely on the government and outside governments for help, reported by The Examiner.  Now, after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast of the United States, many donations will go there before sending the money to an outside country, reports The Examiner.

Overall, the population has not recovered from the genocides in the 1980s, and is continually held down by poor economy and natural disasters.  Many people seek justice through the conviction of General Efrain Rios Montt for the atrocities committed 30 years ago, hopefully bringing the country closure for a terrible period in its history.

For further information, please see:

Fox News Latino — Five Bodies Found in Vehicle in Southern Guatemala – 24 November 2012

Fox News Latino — Guatemala Blames Drug Gang for Massacre – 23 November 2012

Amnesty International — The Two Guatemalas of Rios Montt – 22 November 2012

The Examiner — Guatemalan Earthquakes and the U.S. War on Drugs in Perspective – 22 November 2012


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