Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former factory worker who lived in Santa Ana until he was deported last July, has been sentenced to more than 6000 years for his role in one of the worst atrocities carried out by the U.S.-backed military during Guatemala's decades-long civil war. According to news reports, Pimentel is the sixth former Kaibil, or Guatemalan special forces soldier, to be sentenced to 6000 years or more for the massacre, in which at least 201 villagers in the remote hamlet of Dos Erres were murdered over the course of two days in Dec. 1982.
Apparently the 6060-year sentence, which was handed down by a three-judge panel yesterday, is "symbolic," since Guatemala's justice system allows only for incarcerations of up to 50 years. The four-digit figure represents 30 years for each of the 201 victims, plus another 30 years for "crimes against humanity."
It's difficult to imagine a more sordid crime than what Pimentel and his colleagues allegedly perpetrated in Dos Erres, which became targeted by the military after left-wing guerrillas ambushed an army truck that was passing along a nearby road. Supposedly entering the town to search for weapons that might have been used in the attack, the Kaibiles instead found unarmed civilians, most of them women, elderly people, teenagers and small children.
The Kaibiles then rounded up everyone for interrogations. Techniques for gaining information included smashing children and infants in the head with a sledgehammer. The soldiers also participated in mass rapes of the women. At some point, a large group of residents who didn't realize what was happening arrived at Dos Erres from out of town. They too were killed. When the Kaibiles were done, they tossed the bodies in the town's well, capped it with dirt, and razed all the buildings, literally wiping the town off the map.
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Dos Erres was just one of hundreds of massacres that took place during in Guatemala during the 1980s, which the military alternately tried to cover up or blame on the guerrillas, a public relations campaign that was aided by the likes of none other than then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who publicly asserted that human rights critics were giving the military a "bad rap."
Pimentel in particular personifies the responsibility for this carnage that is borne by the United States in that, after the massacre took place, we rewarded him with a job as an instructor at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, whose graduating ranks include dozens of notorious dictators and human rights violators throughout Latin America.
For any young people with the attention span to make it this far into this article: think of the school as a Hogwarts for anti-communist psychopaths trained and armed by Uncle Sam. Now forward this story to ten million of your friends, or better yet, use your social networking skills to produce your very own KONY 2012-style documentary about Pimentel and the Kaibiles, since they're still operating in Guatemala, and unlike Kony, they're doing so with U.S. support.