Twenty Years Too Late: Pat Robertson’s Dictator Buddy Arrested

As former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt faces charges for manslaughter, conspiracy and threatening bodily harm in relation to the death of journalist Hector Ramirez, I look in vain for a word on CBN’s website. Montt, as is well known, enjoyed huge support from Pat Robertson back in 1982-3, despite massive human rights abuses and massacres of Mayan Quiche Indians. Montt is a Charismatic Protestant, and within a week of his coup in 1982 Robertson had flown down to meet him, promising a billion dollars and missionaries. Robertson raised cash for Montt on his “700 Club”, and lobbied Reagan to allow military aid to the country. He also provided an introduction to an apologetic for Montt and apparently wrote in his book New World Order (quoted second hand, I must confess) that Montt’s successor

continues the enlightened leadership of his patron, former President Rios Montt, who insisted on honesty in government and then had every key official sign a pledge that read, “I will not steal; I will not lie; I will not abuse.”

(this successor, Jorge Serrano Elias, was himself forced out after attempting to impose authoritarian rule in 1993)

Montt’s church is Verbo Ministries, which is still going strong in California and central America. Its one-time international director, Francisco Bianchi, was a presidential candidate in the 1999 election, standing for his own Democratic Reconciliatory Alliance party. Bianchi was Montt’s private secretary, and in one assessment was

one of the few candidates in this race who can be described as extreme right. At one point during Ríos Montt’s government, Bianchi told The New York Times that if the indigenous people sympathized with the guerrillas they had to be killed, even if they were civilians, a statement he now denies having made.

Although Bianchi’s impact was negligible, that election was won by Montt’s party, the Guatemalan Republican Front, under Alfonso Portillo. Montt himself came third in the 2003 election, despite being barred from office. The pro-Montt riots that followed his defeat, and the death of Ramirez leading up to it, suggest that, unlike Charles Taylor of Liberia, this friend of Pat Robertson remains a menace to his country.

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