During the Cold War the CIA was obsessed with keeping communism out of Latin America. In the 1970s and 1980s the agency backed right-wing regimes in Guatemala which carried out genocidal attacks in indigenous groups which supported left-wing rebels.
Three retired officers in the Guatemalan army are awaiting trial accused of carrying out genocide against the Maya Ixil people almost 40 years ago.
General Benedicto Lucas García, General Manuel Callejas y Callejas and Colonel César Octavio Noguera Argueta were high up in the CIA-backed Guatemalan regime when it clamped down on leftist rebels and civilian sympathisers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
CIA Backed Dictators and Military Juntas
Washington’s policy in Central America was defined by the Cold War, the growing influence of Cuba in the region and a neurotic fear that communism would take over and threaten the US’s southern border.
In 1979 the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was ousted by the Sandinistas and next door, in El Salvador, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front was fighting to unseat a military junta which deployed death squads against suspected guerrillas and their supporters.
Guatemala occupied a vital strategic position straddling the Central American isthmus just south of Mexico and President Jimmy Carter and his successor Ronald Reagan were determined not to let it fall into communist hands.
So when several leftist rebel armies, most notably the…