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News ::
BTL:Guatemala Rejects Former Dictator and War Criminal Who Sought Presidency (english)
14 Nov 2003
Interview with Sarah Aird, director of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
Guatemala Rejects Former Dictator and War Criminal Who Sought Presidency

Interview with Sarah Aird, director of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Guatemala held national and municipal elections on Nov. 9. One of the main candidates for president was Efrain Rios Montt, the dictator responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of indigenous peasants from 1982-83 during Guatemala's bloody civil war. Thanks to his allies on the court, Rios Montt was able to run for office, despite a clause in the nation's constitution barring those accused of war crimes from doing so. He ran as the candidate of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front, or FRG.

Over the 36-year civil war, an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people were killed, almost all by the military in this nation of 11 million. This is the second election since peace accords were signed in 1996. Pre-election violence was widespread, mostly blamed on the FRG. But despite that, the election was judged free and fair by both international and Guatemalan observers. Two candidates polled well ahead of Rios Montt, Oscar Berger and Alvaro Colom. They will likely face each other in the Dec. 28 run-off election. When Rios Montt's legislative term ends in January, his immunity from prosecution ends and he may be charged with war crimes.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Sarah Aird, director of NISGUA, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, based in Washington, D.C. Aird, who fears that through violence and fraud, Rios Montt could still make it into the runoff, expressed NISGUA's view on whether the election was a victory for democracy and profiles the two candidates who will compete in the December ballot.

Contact NISGUA by calling (202) 518-7638, or visit the group's website at

Related links:

Council on Hemispheric Affairs at North American Congress on Latin America

LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:
"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
betweenthelines (at)
Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
2003 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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