“Granito: how to nail a dictator” ⎯ Guatemala premiere

A movie being released today in Guatemala tells how a 1982 documentary has become a major piece of evidence in the case of genocide against former President Efraín Ríos Montt. “Granito: how to nail a dictator”, by US filmmaker Pamela Yates, will have its premiere at the magnificent 3000-seat Teatro Nacional in Guatemala City.

Ríos Montt is accused of organizing the counterinsurgency operations known as “scorched earth” during the 1980s civil war in Guatemala. These campaigns resulted in massive human rights violations against indigenous men and women, including murder, sexual violence and forced displacement. His indictment is unprecedented as many military officers responsible for human rights violations during the civil war still enjoy impunity.

“Granito” is made of outtakes from a first documentary that Yates shot in 1982 and shows how these clips were used to prosecute Ríos Montt. One of them shows Yates conducting an interview with Ríos Montt, the then President of Guatemala . He denies ordering any massacre, but cannot help but admit that he had command over the military perpetrating them. The quote is central in the trial since it is evidence that low-level officers in the highlands were reporting to superior officers who condoned the atrocities committed against the indigenous people of Guatemala.

In a surprising turn of events, the Guatemalan government—whose current President, Otto Pérez Molina is also accused of participating in the “scorched earth” campaigns—offered the Teatro Nacional for the premiere. Last month, he told Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams that there “was no genocide” during a Nobel Women’s Initiative delegation to Guatemala.



See the event for the premiere on Facebook

Genocide trial against Rios Montt in Guatemala: declassified documents provide key evidence, The Indypendent, 9 February 201

Reckoning with a genocide in Guatemala, The Atlantic, 10 February 2012

How a film captures a dictator: Granito, Dowser, 14 February 2012