Does the genocide ruling mean justice for Chajul?

rios montt trial

Dear friends,

Last week was a historic one in Guatemala. The courageous voices of witnesses from Chajul and other Ixil communities contributed to the conviction of former president Jose Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide committed in the Ixil region under his leadership in 1982-3. Internationally, this is the first-ever trial and conviction of a former head of state for genocide in his own country’s court system. Nationally, it is a blow against impunity and a step forward for justice in post-war Guatemala. Human rights groups and prosecutors are rejoicing in the capital–but what does this decision mean for Chajul?

This week, The Globalist published an op-ed by our own Laura Myers, an LHI board member who recently finished her term as International Coordinator on the ground in Chajul. In it, Laura shares her perspective on post-genocide life in Chajul, and what LHI is doing to help the community repair and rebuild.

View from Chajul, by Laura Myers

It is a long way between the courtroom in Guatemala City where former president Efraín Ríos Montt recently stood trial for genocide and the town of Chajul, deep in the Guatemalan highlands, where many of the human rights abuses were committed.

The distance goes beyond the seven-hour stomach-wrenching drive; the courtroom is a different world entirely. The witnesses looked out of place in the sterile courtroom as they politely remove a worn farmer’s hat or reboso, traditional scarf, before they told their story.

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