Efraín Ríos Montt

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Huehuetenango,
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Birthplace
Huehuetenango,

Guatemalan politician Efran Ros Montt is renowned for being one of the most cruel dictators during his brief, one-and-a-half-year rule. As a military officer who led an insurrection against the despotic President Romeo Lucas Garcia, he launched his political career. Following the overthrow of the tyrant, Montt assumed the role of de facto President and carried on the military administration that the public believed would come to an end. He violated human rights and brutally suppressed the insurgents who opposed him. He allowed his soldiers to brutally target the whole Mayan ethnic group, torturing and killing them in the process. Ironically, Ronald Reagan’s administration in the US aided Efrán in his endeavors by openly claiming that the situation with respect to human rights in Guatemala had improved. He was removed from office by his defense minister, Scar Victores, a year later. After that, Rós made multiple unsuccessful attempts to win the presidency but was disqualified from running due to his previous use of violence. He was elected to serve as the President of Guatemala’s unicameral Congress during this time. Recent accusations made by “Nobel Peace Prize” recipient Rigoberta Mench led to his imprisonment and multiple trials for committing genocide against the Mayans.

Early Childhood & Life

On June 16, 1926, José Efrán Rol Montt was born in the Guatemalan community of Huehuetenango.
He began his military education at the “Military Academy of Guatemala” in 1946. Five years later, he enrolled in the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the United States Department of Defense Institute’s “School of the Americas.”

In 1954, a coup led by the US CIA against Guatemala’s president at the time, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, involved this young military officer in a minor way.

Efraín Ríos Montt’s Career

In 1968, Career Ros was chosen to serve as the Deputy Chief of the “Staff of the Army.” Two years later, Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio, the president of Guatemala, appointed Montt as “Chief of Staff” and “Brigadier General” of the Guatemalan Army.

In order to run for president the following year, Efrain resigned from his position at the Washington embassy in 1973. But right-wing contender Brigadier General Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garcia handily defeated him.

He worked as a military attaché at the Guatemalan embassy in Spain from 1956 to 1977. He was appointed pastor of the Pentecostal “Church of the Word” in California the following year. In the interim, Guatemala’s President was General Fernando, Romeo Lucas Garcia.

Garcia’s election was thought to have been rigged, and he oversaw a lot of impoverished peasants who suffered. Peasants from Guatemala’s Catholic-Mayan ethnic group banded together to form the “Peasant Unity Committee” in order to address the unrest. The group pushed for land changes that would help Guatemalan farmers and for human rights.

On March 23, 1982, President Garcia was overthrown as a result of a peasant uprising. A committee headed by Ros was established by coup leaders Horacio Egberto Maldonado Schaad and Francisco Luis Gordillo Martnez.

The new committee first gave the peasants some cause for optimism. But soon after taking power, the junta’s members overthrew both the government and the constitution and began detaining and torturing rebels.
The “National Growth and Security Plan,” which focused on the state’s conflict hotspots, was unveiled by Efra on April 10.

He proclaimed himself to be both the “Minister of Defense” and the head of the armed forces on June 9, the day the junta was overthrown. Dissidents organized the “Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity” to protest the politician’s control after this action.

Rós launched a military operation named “frijoles y fusils” to quell the uprisings, during which he burned about 600 Mayan settlements, including the town of Plan de Sánchez. More than 250 women and children from the “Achi Mayan” ethnic tribe were raped, tortured, and slain by Montt’s soldiers during this historic atrocity. Ironically, he was preaching on the radio during this period about the need to replace violence with love.

Efran was overthrown in 1983 as a result of a coup organized by his Minister of Defense, General Jose Humberto Meja Victores, despite the support of US President Ronald Reagan.

Rós Montt founded the “Guatemalan Republic Front,” a political party, in 1989. The statute that forbade participation in armed uprisings from becoming President stopped him from running in the elections the following year.

He was re-elected as the leader of the “Guatemalan Republic Front” in 1994.
Efra attempted to run in the elections again in 1995 but was once more disallowed. The “Guatemalan Civil War” came to an end the next year when the government and the guerrilla group “Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity” signed a peace agreement.

In a 1998 assessment from the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera stated that 90% of human rights were violated by the army during the Civil War. Conedera was killed two days later as a result of his report, “Recovery of Historical Memory (Never Again).”

In 1998, Ros Montt was chosen to lead the FRG for a third consecutive term. Rigoberta Mench, a Guatemalan and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, accused the politician of genocide and supporting state-sponsored terrorism the following year.

The politician from Guatemala again sought the presidency in 2003, but the Supreme Court blocked his campaign. The day of his supporters’ armed protest against the court’s ruling on July 24 became known as “Jueves Negro” (also known as “black Thursday”).

Héctor Fernando Ramrez, a.k.a. “Reporter X,” a TV journalist, passed away from a heart attack on this day after being pursued by the mob. Extreme violence was used by protesters for two straight days until Montt ordered them to cease.

The political figurehead was defeated by Scar Berger of the “Grand National Alliance” party, who went on to win the presidency. Ros was prohibited from serving in Congress because he was already running for president.

In March 2004, a court judgment that resolved to put Efran on trial for the killing of journalist Ramrez and the events that had taken place the year before forbade him from leaving the country.

Judge Santiago Pedraz of Spain decided to look into the issue brought up by Nobel Prize recipient Mench in 2005. However, Pedraz was unable to convict Montt of “crimes against humanity” due to the fifteen defense arguments presented by the latter’s attorneys.

Following the 2007 elections, the politician was elected to Congress, but when his five-year tenure came to an end, he was detained for genocide on the basis of the prosecution’s case by Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz. Ros was released on bail but has since been held at home.

This former politician was convicted of plotting and carrying out a genocide in March 2013 and given a sentence of 80 years in jail. His attorneys filed an appeal against the court’s ruling in May, and the Constitutional Court decided that he will be retried in 2015.

Personal Legacy & Life

Mara Teresa Sosa vila is Efra’s wife. They have three children together: Zury R. Montt, Enrique R. Sosa, and Homero R. Sosa. Despite not belonging to any political party, Zury is a politician in Guatemala who is running for president in 2015.

Estimated Net Worth

Efra is one of the wealthiest and most well-liked politicians. According to our research, Efran Ros Montt has a net worth of $5 million, as reported by Forbes, Wikipedia, and Business Insider.

Trivia

The oppressive former president of Guatemala has been exposed by the documentary film “When the Mountains Tremble,” directed by American human rights campaigner Pamela Yates, from 1983. The former head of state is the first person to have been found guilty of genocidal crimes in his nation.