How Aristocrats Have Gotten Away with Even Mass-Murder

By Eric Zuesse, originally posted at

On 8 July 2015, in a pervasively ignored but historically very important news event (briefly mentioned by the BBC), the only trial ever in which a former head of state was convicted in his own country for genocide – in the long court case of Ronald Reagan’s friend Guatemalan General Rios Montt – finally petered out via a declaration by a Guatemalan court, alleging that Montt’s 10 May 2013 Guatemalan conviction and 80-year prison sentence (never served) for genocide, must now simply be abandoned, because Montt is supposedly “mentally incompetent to stand trial.” Though a retrial of his case had been promised, it probably won’t happen. Guatemala’s aristocracy seem to have blocked any and all penalty for their General and former President’s genocide.

The pro-aristocracy Constitutional Court of Guatemala had ruled on 20 May 2013 to throw out General Montt’s conviction for systematic genocide to exterminate entire villages of Mayans, exterminating them in order to keep in power Guatemala’s mainly Spanish-derived aristocrats, commonly called the nation’s “oligarchs.” Montt had been supplied the weapons and financial backing for his genocide by Ronald Reagan’s U.S., and by Menachim Begin’s Israel, and none of those tyrants was executed or imprisoned either. The Reagan Administration had arranged for Israeli weapons to be sent to the Guatemalan Army to carry out the genocide, because doing it this way (instead of by using U.S. weapons) would reduce congressional involvement and consequent possible U.S. news-media coverage of this Guatemalan-American-Israeli genocide of Guatemalan Mayans. Like in the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan found weapons-shellgames around Congressional oversight.

(You can see below this news report – under the heading “Helpful background information on the broader context of the Rios Montt case” – excerpts from Covert Action Information Bulletin, which explain how, despite some resistance in the U.S. Congress, Israel continually receives massive funds from U.S. taxpayers to serve as America’s thug in Guatemala, and in other nations whose aristocracies are being kept in power by the U.S. aristocracy and its agents such as Israel. Israel, incidentally, is also allied with Al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadist organizations. Like them, and America’s Republican Party, Israel wants to destroy Iran and other Shiite powers. The Saudi and other Arabic aristocrats tend to hate Shiites, just as the Israeli aristocracy do. Thus, John McCain famously said “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” Those excerpts are followed by excerpts from Roman Krznaric’s 2003 University of Essex Ph.D thesis on “The Worldview of the Oligarchy in Guatemalan Politics.” It’s a different aspect of the background here.)

The story about the Guatemalan genocide and trial was reported on 20 May 2013 by Consortium News Service, in an interview, by Dennis Bernstein, of the independent investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who had reported on the genocide and on Montt’s trial and conviction. As Nairn said, “It’s the first time that any country has been able to prosecute a former president for genocide using its own domestic criminal courts.” When the U.S. tried Hitler’s officials in the Nuremberg Tribunals after WW II, it was only a foreign power, victor’s justice, that judged and imposed verdicts and punishments. Guatemala was now going to be the first nation to try and convict its own former head-of-state for genocide, albeit in a much smaller case than that of Hitler’s Germany, but the precedent here would have been the most important thing, and it was blocked. Aristocracies in that country and others succeeded in preventing such a historic precedent to be set – for aristocrats to be democratically legally tried and convicted by and in their own country, for mass-murders of their countrymen. Such a precedent would threaten aristocrats everywhere, far more than mere assassination does, and it has now been successfully blocked by aristocracies.

More can be read about the case at the International Justice Monitor. As that report makes clear, Guatemala is a corrupt country (like any aristocratically controlled nation is), and so achieving any real justice there is difficult in any case, but especially in cases where the crime that is being charged was carried out on behalf of the aristocracy – the dictatorial clique that the government actually serves. So, a case such as this one tests whether the given nation is an aristocracy, or is instead a democracy (one that serves the public). Guatemala, evidently, remains a dictatorship. The trappings of elections there are only for show. Maybe Greece, Ukraine, U.S., and many other countries, are like that, too.

Other than Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. President to sponsor a genocide in a foreign country has been Barack Obama, in Ukraine. That case is also being ignored in U.S. ‘news’ media, and in the ‘news’ media of allied countries – countries whose aristocracies accept being subordinate to America’s aristocracy. On 21 November 2014, the Obama Administration additionally made the U.S. one of only three nations in the world to vote against a U.N. resolution condemning genocide, racism, and Holocaust-denial; even Israel and Germany didn’t join the U.S. that time, because Holocaust-denial was included in the condemnation. And even that historic (in a monstrous way) vote was generally ignored by the U.S. ‘news’ media. Americans aren’t supposed to know that though their country fought German nazis in the 1940s, it blocks condemnations of all nazis now.

The West’s alleged ‘support of human rights’ is so selective regarding which aristocracies it condemns and which victims it supports, and which genocides it supports and which ones it opposes, so that anyone who doesn’t think it’s sheer hypocrisy instead of authentic humanitarianism as it’s claimed to be, is either ignorant of history, or else knows as ‘history’ nothing better than mere propaganda. Because these nations aren’t democracies today. If they were, then their mega-crooks would have gotten the maximum punishment, not accolades and an honored retirement.

Given that reality, one can’t reasonably expect this news-report to be published by major ‘news’ media in the West, though it is being sent to all of them. Any which publish it deserve their readers’ support, for their serving the public, instead of serving the aristocracy that own the ‘news’ media.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


Helpful background information on the broader context of the Rios Montt case:

(1) Covert Action Information Bulletin #20, Winter 1984 (pages 35-36).

(2) The Worldview of The Oligarchy in Guatemalan Politics (the 2003 Ph.D thesis by Roman Krznaric, especially pages 101 & 224).


(1) Covert Action Information Bulletin #20, Winter 1984 (pages 35-36):

The U.S. is not the primary supplier of arms to Guatemala. Since 1976, Israel has been the main provider of weapons, aircraft, and training to Guatemala. In fact, between 1977 and 1981, after the U.S. cut off aid due to gross human rights violations, Israel was the only nation giving military aid to the regime. 

Weaponry to Guatemala has included: 10 RBY Mk armored cars; 15,000 5.56-mm Galil assault rifles; and 4 field kitchens. Since 1976, Guatemala has bought at least 11 Arava aircraft, designed for short takeoff and landing. It has been reported that Israelis have been acting as pilots and maintenance technicians for these planes. 

Training of Guatemalan military strongmen by Israel has included education in the use of terror and interrogation techniques, modern intelligence methods and psychological warfare. Israeli advisers are the key link in Guatemalan counterinsurgency operations. From national planning to civilian rural cooperative programs to military maneuvers, Israel is centrally involved. 

Israel’s connections with the right-wing and repressive forces of Guatemala are hardly secret. Israeli advisers have trained many of the officers of Guatemala’s police intelligence (G-2). In reference to the guerrillas fighting the ever-changing military juntas which have come to power, the right wing openly calls for the “Palestinianization” of the rebelling Mayan Indians. 

As with Somoza, Guatemala’s relationship to the Zionist state goes back to 1948 when Israel was created. One of the three U.N. Commissioners overseeing the establishment of Israel was from Guatemala. Despite the numerous changes in power in Guatemala over the years, it has remained a consistent and staunch supporter of Israel. 

Today, Guatemala-Israel relations are better than ever. Extensive trade and economic agreements have been signed recently. Bilateral tourism contracts were signed in March 1982 with the expressed purpose of rebuilding Guatemala’s lagging tourist industry. INGU AT, the Guatemalan tourist board, is advertising in the Jewish communities of New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. 

First and foremost, however, Israel’s relations with Guatemala are military. Some of Israel’s most advanced electronic and computer technologies have been installed in Guatemala. Hit lists used by the death squads have been computerized. Technologically sophisticated murder is coordinated by a Regional Telecommunications Center (RTC) built and managed by Israeli Army experts. The RTC is also linked to the U.S. Army’s Southern Command at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone. The RTC is run by the generals from the fourth floor of the National Palace Annex. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development has said that the RTC is Guatemala’s principal presidential level security agency and works with a high level security network. Further, AID claims that it links the key officials of the National Police, Treasury Police, Detective Corps, Ministry of Government, the Presidential Palace, and the Military Communications Center. 

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haolam Hazeh and the London Guardian revealed in December 1982 that Israeli advisers work closely with Guatemala’s G-2 police units in the use of interrogation and torture. In this activity, they work closely with Argentina and Chile, both of which have long track records in the art. 

Computerized death lists are a mainstay of government terror and inspired a “spy-on-thy-neighbor” campaign. By 1980, computers already listed 80% of the Guatemalan population. 

In November 1981, the Israeli-sponsored Army Electronics and Transmission School was opened in Guatemala. At its opening, the Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala, Moshe Dayan [no relation to the former Defense Minister of the same name] said that the school was the first of its kind in Latin America. Its purpose is to teach computer and electronic monitoring of the Guatemalan people. Equipment at the school is capable of doing everything from checks on potential apartment renters to detecting changes in electricity consumption that supposedly might indicate that an illegal printing press is in operation. Should you be detected as a potentially subversive tenant or an excessive user of electricity, modern Guatemalan technology could identify you for a death list. 

Israel has also been helpful in developing Guatemala’s major military-civilian programs. The Guatemalan military has attempted to create Vietnam-style strategic hamlets. The means of implementing these counterinsurgency plans were couched in terms of establishing peasant cooperatives similar to the kibbutzim in Israel. Guatemalan and Israeli agricultural and military officials were exchanged and it soon became apparent that the goals of the program were to crush peasant support and participation in the armed struggle. 

The U.S., becoming involved through AID, sent “experts” and provided credits and grants. These civic programs were to take place in the Ixcan area. This is the major base of support for the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), one of the major rebel forces fighting to overthrow a succession of repressive governments. 

Under the recently overthrown Rios Montt regime, the Israeli model was put into full operation. In August 1982, a “Plan of Assistance to Conflict Areas” (PAAC) program was begun. The PAAC program reproduced many of the tactics applied by the Israelis on the West Bank, such as finding mayors willing to accommodate to the status quo. 

Rios Montt’s strategic relations with Israel began before his March 23, 1982 coup. Tel Aviv newspapers reported that 300 Israeli advisers had helped to execute the takeover. Rios Montt confessed to an American reporter that many of his soldiers were trained by Israel. 

On August 8, 1983, Rios Montt was overthrown in another military coup led by General Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores. Mejia, who was Defense Minister under Rios Montt, is also a fierce anti-communist. It is doubtful that U.S. and Israeli support will dwindle under Mejia’s rule. Gaining almost immediate recognition from the U.S., Mejia’s pledges to return to civilian rule, abolish secret tribunals and end Rios Montt’s “state of alarm” were received enthusiastically by the Reagan administration. While the precise U.S. role in this latest coup is unclear, it has been reported that some of the Israeli-trained officers that brought Rios Montt to power also participated in his overthrow. …

The U.S. Role 

Has exposure of illegal arms transfers by Israel forced the U.S. to cut back on aid? Or has the fact that Israel has sent arms to countries which the U.S. Congress and others have designated as flagrant violators of basic human rights made the Reagan administration voice any criticism of Israel? The answer to both questions is no. 

Relative to its size and needs, the immense scale of continued U.S. military and economic aid to Israel is obscene. Even after last summer’s internationally condemned invasion of Lebanon, Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It receives about one-third of all U.S. foreign aid, which in the last 10 years has amounted to about $25 billion, or roughly $7 million a day. 

Even more shocking, since 1976 Israel has not spent a penny of its own for military imports. The average U.S. subsidy to Israel for military imports has been 129% of the actual cost of those imports. 

In the current fiscal year, Israel will receive $785 million in economic assistance and $1.7 billion in military aid. It will receive the same amounts in the fiscal year which began October I, 1983. 

Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, was in Washington in late July to discuss more military aid and the right to use U.S. aid to develop weapon systems that are currently only available in the U.S. The State Department and White House refused to comment on the results of the meeting, but an Israeli official said “this trip was one of the most successful trips ever made by an Israeli minister to Washington.” 

The above figures shed light on the important and central role that Israel plays in U.S. foreign policy goals. No amount of struggle against U.S. aid to repressive dictatorships and juntas will be complete, or even marginally successful, unless Israel is also taken to task.


(2) The Worldview of The Oligarchy in Guatemalan Politics

Roman Krznaric 

A thesis submitted for the degree of Ph.D. in Government 

Department of Government 

University of Essex 

Colchester, UK 


(page 101): I draw two main conclusions.

First, the oligarchs are absolutely united across economic sectors in desiring to protect the existing property regime. There are no distinct groups, such as an urban business elite, that support a redistributive agrarian reform or other fundamental changes to the property system. Second, oligarchic narratives illustrating a desire to secure the private property of the wealthy few are incompatible with various liberal democratic values. Protecting private property reigns supreme and trumps other liberal democratic rights, such as civil rights and minority rights. The oligarchs cannot therefore claim to be ‘modern’ in the sense of upholding the full range of liberal democratic rights. 


In summary 

At the risk of being overly repetitious, the central argument of the thesis can be summarised as follows. The oligarchy’s worldview on both security of property and security of person shaped their political practices, and these practices limited the development of liberal democracy in Guatemala. First, with respect to property, the common narrative of opposition to changes in the private property system was borne out in their prevention of a redistributive agrarian reform from appearing in the Accord on Socioeconomic Aspects and the Agrarian Situation. An analysis of the peace talks from the economic elite’s perspective demonstrates how their worldview guided many aspects of their participation, including the decision to enter the negotiations, their interactions with other actors, and their objections to various drafts of the accord. Oligarchic practices were shaped not only by a general rejection of agrarian reform, but by the whole range of property narratives, from Economic development without property reform to Rights as the maintenance of privilege, from Race and the subordination of minority rights to History in the present. Their practices limited democratisation in a number of ways: they were inimical to the liberal democratic value of government accountability to citizens; and they had detrimental effects on the minority rights, civil rights, property rights and political rights of Guatemalans outside the oligarchy. 

Second, the oligarchy’s worldview on personal security shaped their responses to violent crime, and particularly kidnapping, in the four years after the final peace accord was signed. Their use of military intelligence and private security to confront their problems of personal security were guided by their narratives of The desire for military intervention and The need for private security. These practices also conformed with other narratives, such as those concerning the failure of the civilian police and the belief amongst the economic elite that they are a persecuted community requiring special protection from violent crime. Their reliance on military intelligence helped weaken the realisation of accountability, the rule of law and civil rights in the post-civil war period. Their dependence on private security had detrimental consequences for civil rights and accountability. Moreover, it lessened the economic elite’s interest in finding solutions to the underlying causes of general social problems such as violent crime, thereby limiting the development of liberal democracy in Guatemala.