Dictator shaken

Published March 1, 2001


Bishop Armando Roman Guerra, of the Anglican Church of Guatemala, said that an attempt to bring former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt to trial in Spain has shaken the former dictator, keeping him pinned in Guatemala.

Bishop Guerra said that, despite Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu’s recent failure in Spain to bring Gen. Montt to justice, sooner or later the general would have to answer for what he did. The bishop spoke during an interview in Columbia where he attended a meeting of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

Gen. Montt quit travelling outside his country because of his fear that he would be arrested and tried for massacres of indigenous people in 1982 and 1983, Bishop Guerra noted. The party he founded, the Guatemalan Republican Front, now controls the presidency and congress.

Latin American church leaders take hope from court action in Chile against former leader Augusto Pinochet, famous for his “death caravans” against political opposition.

Human rights groups believe that General Pinochet was responsible for 3000 deaths in Chile.

The task of the church is to keep this hope alive by preaching that peace is more than just signing official documents that put an end to war, the leaders said. The church needs to draw attention to the causes of the war, which have not been adequately addressed by the peace accords.


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