Weighted Deaths

“A woman holds a candle lamp during a demonstration against the suspension of the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, outside the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez”

This week started for me in the Washington, D.C. area and ended back in Oakland, amidst a tremendous amount of turmoil in the United States. The violence in Massachusetts and the explosion in Texas is truly heartbreaking.

But a lot happened outside of the U.S. that’s just as heartbreaking as well. I feel that it’s crucial to note that today. There are unfortunately too many stories to focus on.

Traumatic events in the U.S. light up social media in this country like a slot machine in Vegas. The Twitter retweets and the Facebook shares. The public commitments to solidarity.

But today I’m thinking about Guatemala.

Read/watch Democracy Now’s excellent coverage about how former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt’s genocide trial was suspended. His standing trial is of tremendous importance, because he’s the first head of state in the Americas to do so. 

All of the Americas watched. And the trial was suspended due to General Otto Pérez Molina stepping in. Who is he? Guatemala’s President right now.

I want your heart to break when you read this from Democracy Now’s coverage:

“A historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Ríos Montt on was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala’s decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Efraín Ríos Montt’s dictatorship grew with both the private and public support of the United States. And his genocide plan isn’t the only one to play out/continue to play out in the Americas, with the open support of the U.S. government.

So you can keep talking only about events that happened this week in the United States if you want to.

But I’d like to ask you to think about this today, with all due respect:

Are the deaths of certain U.S. citizens the only ones that count?


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