Diakonia - People change the world
During the trial against Efraín Ríos Montt, one word echoed more than the other: Justicia (justice). The people wanted justice to be served to make peace with the past. Photo: CALDH

Guatemala: CALDH a driving force in the Ríos Montt trial

It's not the first time that Diakonia receives letters from a partner organization, expressing their appreciation for our support. In this case, it is from CALDH and AJR, about the Ríos Montt genocide trial in Guatemala.

3/21/2013 Publisher: Julle Bergenholtz

CALDH and AJR's work has made a difference

For many years, Diakonia's partner organizations CALDH and AJR have worked for justice to be done and the truth to be revealed about the abuses that the Guatemalan people faced during the Civil War (1960-1996). The fact that the ex-dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt has been prosecuted is something historic in this context.

CALDH and AJR's part in obtaining the indictment can not be underestimated. Through hard work and motivation CALDH has become one of Guatemala's most prominent human rights organizations, gathering a lot of people around the core messages of nonviolence and legal justice. On this page, you can read a letter from CALDH's director translated from Spanish, where he expresses his gratitude towards Diakonia and the support we have given CALDH over the years.

The dictator Ríos Montt

The charges against Ríos Montt is an important step for the people of Guatemala to address the bloody civil war. Ríos Montt was the leader of the regime in 1982 and 1983, and was one of the leading characters behind "the guns and beans campaign" against the guerrilla groups. The campaign pretty much meant "if are you with us, we will give you food. If you are not with us, we will kill you." All in all, more than 200,000 Guatemalans were killed in the Civil War, but it is only now that Ríos Montt has been brought to justice.

CALDH's letter to Diakonia

"To the Diakonia staff;

Dear Friends. For several years, Diakonia has followed the surviving victims, CALDH and AJR in this long quest for truth and justice.

Today, 28 January 2013, we have taken a historic step when a judge for especially important cases decided to open a lawsuit for genocide and crimes against humanity against the two militaries. This represents a further step towards justice and a recognition of the struggle of the civil war survivors.

We wish to express our gratitude to you for having followed the process over the years. We are grateful that you felt confidence that one day we would arrive at this moment, that we have helped to open the doors for Guatemala. We also thank you for giving us political support in different instances for discussion and influences in the world.

This is just the first step on the road where we will give a new meaning to the men and women who were victims of the civil war. We are creating new pages of history through their tireless pursuit of justice, and we know that you will accompany us all the way.

Warm Regards
Juan Francisco Soto, Director CALDH"

Important to provide long-term support

In the letter, CALDH cements that the long-term nature of Diakonia's support has played an important part in their possibility to continuously work with the Ríos Montt case.

It is when we get these kind of letters that it becomes extra clear what effect Diakonia's support results in. We know that our support contributes to dignified living conditions for the people we work with in over 30 countries. But we also know that these are processes that take time to implement. Therefore, it isimportant to be persistent and that we as supporters have a knowledge and understanding of local conditions that our partner organizations face. Change takes time, and therefore we are proud of what CALDH and AJR has accomplished in Guatemala.