Photo: Outside the courthouse in Guatemala City, survivors await the verdict in the Ixil genocide case. September 26, 2018. Credit: NISGUA, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.
By Chris Shorne
I watched the hearings live. Not for Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but for José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, the man accused of genocide in Guatemala. In a split decision, the court acquitted Sánchez, ruling that as head of military intelligence under dictator Ríos Montt, he did not give the orders. The next morning, my face sticky from crying the night before, I get a text from a friend: “The news is a mindf*ck.” For a split-second (before I realize the text refers to the Kavanaugh hearings only and not also to the genocide verdict), I feel that small relief that comes when someone you love recognizes with you the awfulness of something awful.
In 2000, survivors of Guatemala’s Internal Armed Conflict (1960-1996), formed the Association for Justice and Reconciliation and filed charges of genocide against Rodriguez Sánchez and Ríos Montt (Montt died during the trial). Over eighteen years, more than one hundred survivors of the Maya Ixil genocide testified. It is with these survivors that I spent last year as an international human rights accompanier in Guatemala.
While waiting for the judges to arrive to give the genocide verdict, I looked online at every picture I could find of the hundreds of survivors gathered outside the courthouse in Guatemala City. I smiled each time I found a familiar face: a woman who made me coffee or sent her kid to the nearest tiendita to buy two eggs and a tomato to cook me lunch or gave me extra blankets at night because she knew I wasn’t expecting the mountains’ cold. Continue Reading…