Things That Matter

People Commemorate The Guatemalan Genocide No One Talks About

Guatemala Genocide
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In 2013, former Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted for crimes against humanity and genocide he committed 30 years ago against the indigenous Maya Ixil people.

Credit: @inspiractionorg / Instagram

The 89-year-old was sentenced to 80 years in prison, but three years after the trial, that verdict is still up in the air.

The Constitutional Court, pressured by the elite and the military who were afraid of their fate after Ríos Montt’s sentence, threw the verdict out and set a retrial. Human rights lawyers and two of the judges criticized the move as an absurd intervention.


Absurd to say the least, because, during the trial, victims described horrific crimes committed during Ríos Montt’s rule.

#Repost @opensocietyfoundations with @repostapp. ・・・ Massacre survivor Sebastian Iboy Osorio, 50, steers a boat on the Chixoy reservoir along with wife Magdalena Alvarax, 48, and daughters Adaly (left), 5 and Paulina, 7. Iboy Osorio, originally from the Achi Mayan community of Rio Negro, survived the massacres carried out by the Guatemalan army and civil patrolmen from neighboring Xococ against residents of Rio Negro in 1981 and 1982. Nearly 400 community members of Rio Negro were killed in four separate massacres due to the community's resistance to give up their lands and make way for the Chixoy hydroelectric project. Rio Negro, Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. Hello, this is James Rodríguez (@mimundo_org), Mexican-US documentary photographer based in Guatemala since 2006. This week I am honored to share images via the @opensocietyfoundations Instagram feed from my long term project on Life in Post-War Guatemala. After a brutal 36-year civil war (1960-1996) that left over 250,000 victims, the tiny Central American nation, with an Indigenous Mayan population of over 50% and one of the most violent and economically polarized societies in the western hemisphere, still reels from the harrowing conflict. All photographs have been taken with a phone. Iboy Osorio returned to Rio Negro in the early 1990s along with two other survivors and have currently grown into a community of 24 homes. Electric service was finally established in August 2015, but each house was charged 2,150 Quetzales (US $280), something they believed should be waived considering their original town was flooded to make way for a hydroelectric project. Most of the residents of Rio Negro live below poverty levels making less that US $2 per day. #opensociety #humanrights #documentary #photojournalism #postwar #guatemala #everydayguatemala #everydaylatinamerica #everydayeverywhere #genocide #ixil #achi #riosmontt #bn #bw #achi #maya #mayan #chixoy #hydro #hydroelectric #hidroelectrica #embalse #dam #reservoir #electricity #electric #electricidad

A photo posted by James Rodríguez / MiMundo.org (@mimundo_org) on

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Men, women and children testified, describing how the women were gang-raped and how their family members were torn to pieces right in front of them. How they were forced to leave their home and escape into the jungle for years seeking safety.


In her essay for the Huffington Post, human rights activist Jo-Marie Burt said, “During Ríos Montt’s rule, the Guatemalan state’s official policy was to exterminate its indigenous population in the name of national security.” For this, Ríos Montt was to go to prison.

Credit: @jomaburt / Twitter

The verdict was a victory for the indigenous people because, as Burt says, it was “the first time a high-ranking military official was being sanctioned for grave violations of human rights in Guatemala. The first time ever a former head of state was held accountable for genocide in a domestic court of law.”


The retrial has been rescheduled many times, sometimes due to Ríos Montt’s dementia. It has also changed from a public trial to one behind doors. This, however, isn’t discouraging Guatemalans. In their eyes, the first verdict still stands, and they will continue to fight impunity.

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As Juan Francisco Soto, executive director of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights, says, “What is surprising is that we were able to bring the case to court and see it through. We proved in a court of law that there was a genocide in Guatemala.” Even though the verdict was overturned by dirty legal moves, “For us,” he says, “the sentence is still valid.”

Get more details on this genocide trial here


READ: Real Life Risks Guatemala Immigrants Take to Make It to America

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The San Antonio Four Were A Set Of Wrongly Convicted Lesbians Who’d Been Accused Of Devil Worship In the 90s

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The San Antonio Four Were A Set Of Wrongly Convicted Lesbians Who’d Been Accused Of Devil Worship In the 90s

"Southwest of Salem"

In the ’90s, members of the LBGTQ community were finally starting to find some tolerance in mainstream culture. Most major cities around the world had a gay night scene and many small communities were being formed by lesbians and gay men. Unfortunately, LGBTQ people still encountered bigotry and homophobia regularly. From everyday altercations to murderous attacks, being gay in the ’90s was still dangerous.

That didn’t stop Elizabeth Ramirez from coming out and living her life as a gay woman. Although her hometown of San Antonio Texas was very conservative at the time, Ramirez was happily involved with her girlfriend, Kristie Mayhugh. The two were building a happy life together along with their close friends, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez.

Unfortunately, devastating accusations would rock San Antonio and cost each women years of their freedom.

This is the story of the San Antonio Four and the horrible accusations and homophobia that led to their incarceration.

Twitter / @maurinanoe

The events that led to their imprisonment started innocently enough. The four women were staying together at the time. It was 1994 when they welcomed Ramirez’s young nieces into their home for a weeklong stay. After the visit, the girls’ father went to the police and reported a truly horrific story.

According to the father, Javier Limon, the girls had been sexually abused and tortured by the women. More than that, his accusations claimed they had been gang-raped in a Satanic ritual and “indoctrinated into a lesbian lifestyle.” The nieces were only 7 and 9 years old at the time.

The girls were interviewed several times and gave inconsistent statements with varying details. Physical examination found no major signs of sexual assault. However, prosecutors used child abuse specialist, Dr. Nancy Kellogg, to argue the opposite. In now-defunct testimony, Dr. Kellogg blamed common vaginal wear on abuse by the San Antonio women.

The San Antonio police department claimed that the women’s sexuality was not relevant to the investigation. Yet, their actions argue the opposite.

Twitter / @PopularLonerr

This case was during the Satanic Panic of the 1990s. The public was obsessed with news of Satanic rituals and cults during this time. Homosexuality was often linked to these reports of rituals and sex magic. It was also a common thought at the time that homosexuals were more likely to sexually harm children. Had the four women not been recently-outed lesbians, the police more than likely wouldn’t have pursued the complaints.

Likewise, had the women not been lesbians, the complaints probably never would’ve been made to begin with. Limon, the girls’ father, was romantically interested in Ramirez. The San Antonio man was her brother-in-law but he had expressed desire for her before. Notably, when she was just a teenager. Ramirez had rejected him before coming out. However, her happy relationship with Mayhugh probably encouraged Limon to retaliate against the women.

Sadly, the San Antonio Four were tried and found guilty. They each received between 15 to 37 years in prison for a crime that had no proof.

Twitter / @mercurymiya

It wasn’t until 2012 when any relief seemed likely for the jailed women. That year, one of Ramirez’s nieces recanted the allegations. Furthermore, she explained that her father, Limon, was to blame for the accusations. Her father, she said, threatened her and her sister as girls and continued the emotional abuse all their lives. This is what kept the San Antonio Four’s innocence a secret for so long.

In 2012, Vasquez was the first of the San Antonio Four to be released from prison. However, it was parole that released her, not her own innocence. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that the other three were released on bail while their guilt was reassessed. Later that same year, their sentences would be cut short and they would be declared innocent of all charges. The San Antonio Four were finally free.

Their struggle encouraged the documentary “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.” Now, you can stream the truth for yourself.

Twitter / @DaRealChrisCo

“Southwest of Salem” follows the redemption of the San Antonio Four. The documentary was released in 2016 but is now available to stream on both Hulu and Amazon Prime. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100% Fresh and is scored 7.1/10 on IMDd.com. The documentary also won a Peabody Award and won “Outstanding Documentary” at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards.

“Southwest of Salem” clearly deals with difficult themes. However, it’s an important documentary to see — especially as more cases of police and prosecutor misconduct become uncovered. If we know of the atrocities that have happened in the past, we can stop them from ever happening again.

Here’s What We Know So Far About The Arrested Parkland Officer Who Hid While Students Were Shot And Killed On Campus

Things That Matter

Here’s What We Know So Far About The Arrested Parkland Officer Who Hid While Students Were Shot And Killed On Campus

Broward County Sheriff's Office / The Guardian / YouTube

Scot Peterson, 56, was the on-duty resource officer on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus on Feb., 14, 2018. That was the day that Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people in the school while Peterson remained outside never confronting the shooter. He is now in jail facing charges connected to his lack of response during the shooting, including charges of child neglect.

Scot Peterson was the on-duty armed guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when 17 people were shot and killed.

According to reports, former Broward Deputy Peterson has been charged with 11 felonies because of his inaction during the shooting. Peterson, who is facing charges including child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury, has long been criticized for hiding during the shooting. While 17 people were killed, Peterson can be seen on camera standing outside of the building and hiding from the shooter for 50 minutes.

The charge for perjury was added because Peterson, under oath, denied hearing gunshots when he first arrives at the building where the shooting occurred.

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According to The New York Times, one student, Arman Borghei, said he looked out of a window and saw Peterson outside building 1200 where the shooting took place. Peterson allegedly had his gun drawn but was frozen in place doing nothing to locate and confront the shooter.

News of his arrest and charges has been met with celebration from people on social media.

Credit: @ravireport / Twitter

“We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement about terminating Peterson.  “I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”

People are also so over other people trying to give the former deputy a way out of the responsibility.

Credit: @chrisrowFL / Twitter

We have seen recent examples of unarmed people taking down gunmen to save fellow classmates and coworkers. Peterson was the armed guard on campus and some people argue that his lack of action led to a higher death toll that Valentine’s Day.

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are joining the online discussion to give people a face to attach to the tragedy.

Many of the students and their supporters are happy with Peterson being arrested for negligence allowing people to die. Families and friends who lost loved ones in the shooting at the Florida high school are waiting to see if the trial will unfold in their favor or not.

Check back with mitú as we cover the developments of this story.

READ: After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

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