Justice Advocates Are Making Gains in Central America, but a Backlash Is Brewing

Justice Advocates Are Making Gains in Central America, but a Backlash Is Brewing
Guatemalan military officers carry the coffin of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt to his burial site at a cemetery in Guatemala City, April 1, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

It has been more than two decades since the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala came to a close. Yet in both countries, transitional justice is still a goal, rather than a reality, and recent progress risks being undermined by powerful forces intent on blocking accountability.

For this week’s in-depth report, Anna-Catherine Brigida spoke with survivors of civil war-era atrocities who have campaigned—in some cases successfully—to make the alleged perpetrators of those atrocities stand trial. She also examined efforts by officials allied with former military regimes to use legislation and the courts to revive amnesty provisions.

In this week’s podcast interview, she talks with WPR’s senior editor, Robbie Corey-Boulet, about what these tensions mean for Latin America writ large—a region where experts fear resurgent rightist forces are trying to normalize past abuses. She also explains why debates over transitional justice matter for U.S. policy in Central America.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Are El Salvador and Guatemala Seeking Justice for War Crimes, or Trying to Cover Them Up?
Kicked Out of the U.S., Salvadoran Deportees Are Struggling Simply to Stay Alive

Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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