For immediate release
September 9, 2015
Contact: María Luisa Rosal
Former Guatemalan President and School of the Americas (SOA) Graduate Otto Pérez Molina Indicted
Washington, DC - SOA Watch celebrates the resignation and the indictment of former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, a graduate of the School of the Americas (SOA). Otto Pérez Molina is notorious for his direct role in the scorched earth campaigns of the early 1980's in the Ixil region, which he carried out under the direction of former dictator and SOA grad General Efraín Ríos Montt, who was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in May of 2013 by a Guatemalan court.
Tens of thousands of protesters, who took to the streets in protest of a corruption scandal that implicated 158 officials, forced Otto Pérez Molina to resign as President on September 2. On September 8, Guatemalan judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez indicted Pérez Molina on charges of illicit association, bribery and fraud, and he is now set to face trial. It remains to be seen if the Guatemalan justice system will put him on trial for crimes against humanity for his direct involvement in human rights violations.
The indictment of Otto Pérez Molina's resignation came at a critical moment in Guatemala, just days before the September 6 elections, which were carried out in the midst of political and social upheaval. The top two candidates in this first round of elections, Jimmy Morales (FCN), and Sandra Torres (UNE), will face a run-off on October 25, 2015. Morales, a comedian, has tried to distance himself from the corruption scandals, and has presented himself as a new alternative for the country, but this discourse is overshadowed by the fact that his party was founded by a military veterans association, which includes 2-time SOA grad Edgar Justin Ovalle Maldonado, who, like Pérez Molina, played a direct role in the Human Rights violations committed at the height of the 36-year long armed conflict.
This November 20-22, Human Rights activists throughout the Americas will take the message of solidarity, accountability and justice to the gates of Fort Benning – to the SOA/WHINSEC – where Pérez Molina and scores of other Human Rights abusers were trained, to take direct action against the focal point of several atrocities committed under the banner of US foreign policy.
SOA Watch maintains that those responsible for the SOA torture manuals and for the training of repressive foreign militaries, should stand trial as well and be held accountable. SOA graduates continue to be involved in human rights abuses throughout the Americas. Founded in 1946, the institution made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon, through grassroots pressure, was forced to release SOA training manuals that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution to repress civilian populations.
SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to close the SOA and change the oppressive US foreign policy that the school represents. To date, over 60,000 Latin American soldiers and police have been trained at the US taxpayer-funded institution.