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Ríos Montt, José Efraín

Ríos Montt, José Efraín hōsā´ ĕfräēn´ rē´ōs mōnt [key], 1926–, Guatemalan general and politician. A career army officer, he became head of the Guatamalan army in 1970. As a Christian Democrat, he made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1974, then was posted as a military attaché to Spain until he retired from the army in 1977. In 1982 Riíos Montt became president of Guatemala following a military coup. During his 18 months in office, he cracked down on opposition groups and labor unions, and waged a murderous scorched earth campaign against Ixil Maya, who were seen as supporting leftist rebels. Ríos Montt was overthrown by his defense minister, Gen. Óscar Mejía Victores, in 1983. In 1989 he founded the Guatemalan Republican Front, which he represented in congress (1990–2004) he also served as president of the congress (1995, 2000–2004). He ran unsuccessfully for president again in 2003. In 2013 Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity for the campaign against the Ixil Maya, but a retrial was ordered by the constititutional court for procedural reasons. In 2015 he was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and was barred from being sentenced if convicted.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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