His name was Abidan, and he lived very close to my house in San Marcos, in Western Guatemala. He was married and his wife had just had a son, they already had a beautiful girl. That was in the early 1980s. Abidan disappeared one day leaving no trace at all. Like him, several people disappeared, and were never seen again. The conflict between the army and guerrilla groups in rural areas was intense, and the disappearances more common than in cities. In 1982, when Rios Montt took power I was five years old, and I never felt at easy listening to him.
Guatemala is a very difficult country to understand, at least for an insider like me. One perception for example is that if one believes the genocide did happened one must be a “communist” which does not follow at all. We should examine definitions of genocide and weight the evidence accordingly. One can even be a libertarian and still think that there is evidence of genocide, or at least to think that the case is not black and white. The reverse is also possible, one can be a “communist,” and believe that genocide did not happen in Guatemala, based on some evidence - or some interpretation of the evidence.
Under certain definitions of genocide the result of the trial does not come as a surprise for me.
A few days ago here in Mbour, Senegal, very far away from Guatemala, I followed the case in my newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter until very late at night. When the result came my thoughts went to people like Abidan’s family. I wonder how they felt.