Ronald Reagan: Ríos Montt is “totally dedicated to democracy”

Corey Robin

Reagan and Rios Montt


So much of the discourse around the US and genocide focuses on the sin of omission, the failure of the US to prevent or stop genocide elsewhere. Now that former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 80 years in prison—a fact established by a UN truth commission in 1997 but often ignored in the literature about genocide and intervention, which tends to focus on Rwanda and Bosnia—perhaps we can attend to the sin of commission. For the US support for Rios Montt was extensive. I wrote about it in the London Review of Books in 2004:

On 5 December 1982, Ronald Reagan met the Guatemalan president, Efraín Ríos Montt, in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for Reagan. ‘Well, I learned a lot,’ he told reporters on Air Force One. ‘You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.’ It was also…

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