The return of Rios Montt

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who should be standing in the dock at a war-crimes tribunal, will instead be standing for president in the country’s November election.

Guatemala’s highest court has approved Rios Montt’s candidacy, despite the evidence of his responsibility for massacres of civilians in the early ’80s during the country’s civil war.

Shamefully President Ronald Reagan’s adminstration provided aid to the Guatemalan military for its brutal campaign. I doubt the US actively encouraged the massacres, but it certainly did its best to overlook them.

In a sign that US foreign policy has, in some ways, changed for the better over the past 20 years, Reuters reported: “In rare criticism of a presidential hopeful, the United States has said it would have trouble working with Rios Montt because of his rights record.” Whether the US can or should do anything more at this point, I can’t say.

The “He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch” attitude, which mostly guided US foreign policy for decades after World War II, may not be completely dead (see Saudi Arabia), but I think it’s dying.