Suffragio celebrates its one-year anniversary


So today, my blog is exactly one year old.

In February 2012, I started this blog as a part-time venture and, nearly 17,000 hits and over 550 posts later, I’m still going strong.

As usual, thanks to my readers and guest contributors — and of course, please do share any thoughts to make Suffragio better: more relevant, more thoughtful, more prescient and more engaging.

Here’s to the next year for Suffragio!

Former Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt to be tried for genocide


Central America was a rough neighborhood during the Cold War.guatemala flag icon

And Guatemala, with a civil war that essentially began with the overthrow of elected president Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán (with U.S. support) in 1954, and ended only with a peace treaty in 1996, was particularly rough.

Even in that context, however, the reign of Efraín Ríos Montt in the early 1980s, again backed by the United States, was a particularly brutal one.

Ríos Montt, however, this week became the first ever head of state to be tried for genocide in the Western Hemisphere, when a Guatemalan judge ruled that the trial will go forward — authorities charged Ríos Montt in early 2012 with genocide and crimes against humanity for, particularly, 1,771 deaths of indigenous Ixil Mayans during his 17-month reign, but really over 10,000 deaths in 1982 attributed to Ríos Montt’s regime — it’s a trial that could bring about a greater awareness of the atrocities committed not only in Guatemala, but throughout Central America during the Cold War, as well as the complicity of the United States in some of the most brutal events in Latin American history in the 20th century.

Ríos Montt, now aged 86, continues to argue for amnesty under the basis of a 1996 amnesty, but his lawyers have been accused of using legal tactics to bring about additional delays in the case.

Under international law, crimes against humanity and genocide have been considered to be exempt from national amnesty statutes, and indeed, even under Guatemala’s 1996 national conciliation law, genocide, torture and forced disappearances are expressly exempt from amnesty.

Today, the misty mountain air of Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands is best known for tourism rather than terror (pictured above).  Towns like Huehuetenango and Santiago Atitlán, in 2013, are better known as a source of fair-trade coffee than as a site of genocide.

But 30 years ago, the Guatemalan highlands saw some of the worst atrocities of the Guatemalan civil war.  Continue reading Former Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt to be tried for genocide

First Past the Post: February 1


East and South Asia

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is not popular in Pakistan.

North America

Former U.S. senator and nominee for U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel has a tough day of hearings.

Latin America / Caribbean

Argentina’s government turns down a Falklands summit.

An explosion at México’s state-owned oil company, Pemex.

FARC clashes with the Colombian government.

How to maintain Peruvian economic growth.


Islamist rebels in Mali are on the defensive after three weeks of French activity.

Kenya’s March 4 presidential election will feature eight candidates.


Armenian presidential candidate Paruir Airikian is shot and wounded.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is distancing herself from her coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party.

A slush fund for Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular?

Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev (pictured above with president Vladimir Putinlays out his economic goals.

Middle East

Foreign Policy peeks into Lebanon.

Will Hamas try to take over the leadership of the PLO?

Photo credit to Dmitry Astakhov of RIA Novosti.