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Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

By jimstaro - Posted on 29 January 2011

Sundance Premiere Highlights Guatemala Human Rights Work


Archive Analyst Kate Doyle Featured in Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

New Film Showcases Spanish Genocide Case, Documents 20 Years of Struggle Against Impunity

January 28, 2011 - A new documentary film about human rights in Guatemala featuring National Security Archive senior analyst Kate Doyle will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, will be screened tonight at the Sundance Resort where Kate Doyle, Almudena Bernabeu of the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), and film makers Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís, will attend the screening and speak to the audience after the film.


GRANITO 10min from Skylight Pictures on Vimeo.

The film covers the unearthing of hidden government archives, exhumations of victims, and efforts to bring the perpetrators of human rights crimes to trial. The documentary showcases the fight against impunity and the struggle to establish rule of law after decades of civil conflict and genocide that left 200,000 civilians dead and tens of thousands more disappeared. {continued}

The page linked for the full article has a link to another GWU NS Archive page, a related one, and that page refers to a Netherlands-based organization called "Impunity Watch" without providing a link for or to it, so I Google for it and the following link should be right.

There's another "Impunity Watch" Web site with the url of, but it's at Syracuse University, while the "About" page of the above website says that that IW organization is based in the Netherlands.


Impunity Watch is an international non-profit group, seeking to promote accountability for past atrocities in countries emerging from a violent past. We produce research-based policy advice, monitor state compliance with legal obligations towards the victims of crimes and advocate for tailored policy solutions. Our aim is to assist national civil society groups to have a stronger voice in policy-making on accountability.

Impunity Watch is based in the Netherlands and is currently running country programmes in Guatemala, Serbia and Burundi.

Many more countries deserve to be added or included, but these three will provide a good start; although, I wonder what the organization has on Serbia. If that part is repeat of US allegations against former President Slobodan Milosevic having been responsible for genocide of Albanians, or Muslims, f.e., then it evidently wouldn't be a reliable organization, because he wasn't guilty. Washington lied. And if it's about the wars in the Balkans earlier in the 1990s, then the US and NATO were highly responsible for this; not that western corporate media, US ones anyway, or Washington would ever tell us this.

They have an article or page about Serbia:

Dealing with Impunity in Serbia - Options and Obstacles

Now available in English, this document provides a summary of a research project conducted over the past two years in Serbia, examining the root causes and nature of impunity for crimes committed by the Serbian state and citizens during the wars of Yugoslavia's dissolution during the 1990s.

That may be worth reading, but if the organization faults Serbia and Yugoslavia more than the US and NATO, then people should read related articles at, f.e. Scott Taylor, a former Canadian Armed Forces member, also has provided related information based on his reporting from his on-the-ground investigative work in the Balkans and Yugoslavia and his Web site is, He has a Youtube channel and the link for it can be obtained from Youtube videos of his embedded at his Web site. And he has some articles, through his author index, at, but I would guess not as much as at his Web site.

There are links for more related articles and PDF's in the IW home page.

The US and its despot dictators, Guatemala and El Salvador:

"Lies I Was Raised With"
by Wade Frazier

It's one of his excellent essays and like many of them, it isn't short. I'll excerpt a little from it. And he's a former accountant, one who worked for some large American corporations, btw.


Big Lies: The News

More Big Lies: History

Colonialism, the First Stage of Global Capitalism

Objectivity, Sources and the Historian's Ideal




Since 1990, all of my spare time, and five years of full-time work, has been devoted to researching what I was taught, comparing it to my adult research, and creating this web site. What follows is some of what I discovered.


Big Lies: The News


Immediately after the public professional executions of Oliver and Smith came the story of Mike Gallagher of the Cincinnati Inquirer, who published a series of articles about Chiquita Brand International in May 1998. Chiquita used to be known as United Fruit. The United States overthrew the Guatemalan government in 1954 so United Fruit could continue to "own" the country.[6] Gallagher reported that what goes on today in Central America was merely more of the same, and he found himself legally attacked by Chiquita, accusing him of illegally accessing their voicemail system.

The attacks on those who tell the wrong story are not limited to the news. All across America, college professors who fail to toe the establishment line, and lean in any way toward the “left,” often have a hard time keeping their jobs and careers, and are often fired outright and then blackballed from the profession.[7]

In the case of Ralph McGehee and the CIA, there are structural controls in place, such as how the CIA psychologically screens candidates in order to select people who blindly follow orders. The CIA almost did not hire Ralph because he did not think in the simplistic black/white way the CIA preferred its “mesomorphs” to think. Even so, it took Ralph a major intelligence breakthrough in Thailand and 16 years to finally figure out what the CIA was all about. Other structural controls existed. By the time Ralph figured it out, he was trapped in the CIA, with no other career options. Others like him lived lives of quiet desperation, counting their days to retirement.

Those constraints made it highly unlikely that a Ralph McGehee would ever figure it out and go public with what he knew. When Ralph tried going public, the CIA abused the national security laws to try preventing publication of his work, even going to the absurd extent that they tried reclassifying public domain material in his book. Even so, after a monumental legal battle, his final book was riddled with censorship deletions, the mainstream media has ignored him when they have not smeared him, and the CIA even went to the extent of buying his Deadly Deceits off bookstore shelves to limit its circulation. Then Ralph created his CIABASE web site, using public domain material to tell what the CIA was up to. Ralph was then subjected to having his home bugged, and he would be followed to the grocery store, and they tried framing him for crimes such as shoplifting. The local police (near Washington D.C.) worked with the CIA and FBI in harassing Ralph, to the point of threatening his family. That not being enough to silence Ralph, they would periodically escalate the intimidation and dirty tricks, and spiked his food on more than one occasion, which damaged his mouth. Their efforts finally succeeded in silencing Ralph in the year 2000. Even when he moved away and stopped his CIABASE efforts, the FBI went to his new town of residence, telling local merchants to be on the lookout for Ralph, as he was a dangerous “national security threat.” Those who think America has free speech should ponder Ralph’s case.

When Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman tried publishing their book on U.S. international fascism and how the American establishment is a vital part of how that system works, a member of America’s media oligarchy destroyed his own publishing company to try preventing the book’s publication. That not being enough (the book was finally published), the media (even Chomsky and Herman’s “friends” in the left and academia) have misrepresented their work ever since, while calling Chomsky a supporter of the Khmer Rouge, which is in the Big Lie category.


In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky present a concept known as worthy and unworthy victims. Worthy victims are victims of our enemies. Unworthy victims are victims of our friends or of us. The authors analyzed the American media's treatment of Central American murders of Catholic priests and nuns by the security forces of national governments. The repeated murders of priests and nuns in El Salvador and Guatemala seemed a sport of their police forces. When a priest would speak out against the government's murder of its citizens, he could be expected to get it next, as Archbishop Romero did. El Salvador and Guatemala were favored client states of the United States while those murders were taking place, with American officials covering for them. At the same time, Poland was undergoing its own struggles against its oppressive Soviet influence (those events were from the 1980s, when Manufacturing Consent was first published). In Poland, members of the Catholic Church spoke out in favor of human rights. In 1984, one Polish priest was murdered by the Polish secret police.

Herman and Chomsky compared the media's coverage of the murder of one Polish priest (a victim of our enemy, hence a worthy victim) to its coverage of the murder of 100 priests and nuns in Central America (victims of our friends, hence unworthy victims). Herman and Chomsky merely added up the amount of coverage the murders received in the mainstream American press. Their sample was the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and CBS News. They added up column-inches and prominence of stories (front page or not) in the printed material, and airtime and prominence (lead story or not) for TV news. The murder of the Polish priest elicited outrage in the American press, garnering headlines and top-of-the-hour coverage. The priest was eulogized as a victim of the evil empire, and the American press pointed its finger straight at the Kremlin.

The cumulative coverage of the murders of 100 priests and nuns in Central America did not exceed the coverage of that Polish priest's murder. There were no eulogies or humanizing coverage for the priests and nuns murdered in our client states, and the American media could never seem to identify the murderers. According to our media and government, they were anonymous death squad members, murdering for the hell of it, not connected to our client governments in any way. When four American nuns were murdered (when it could not be denied that the El Salvadoran National Guard did the deed, after raping the women), Alexander Haig and Jean Kirkpatrick went so far as to say the women deserved it, that they were working with El Salvadoran guerillas. Those statements by our government officials have since been proven bold-faced lies. Herman and Chomsky dryly presented their data and concluded that a dead Polish priest was more than 100 times as media-worthy in America as a dead Central American priest or American nun murdered by our friends.

The media bias presents itself in many other ways. ...


In Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky found a tripled example, not merely a paired one, which aptly demonstrated the situation. In Central America, the nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua are neighbors, lined up along the narrow strip of land that joins the continents. Guatemala and El Salvador were favored client states of the United States during the 1980s, El Salvador receiving six billion dollars in military and other aid from the United States, while Ronald Reagan called it a "fledgling democracy." By almost any standard applied to Guatemala and El Salvador during those years, they had two of the 20th century’s most brutal and murderous regimes. The only reason the leaders of those governments did not attain the bloody stature of Hitler, Stalin and other despots was because their nations were relatively small.

Guatemala and El Salvador were terror states that butchered their populations. The butchers that ran them were U.S. puppets, and the leaders of their "security forces" were largely trained in the United States at the School of the Americas and other facilities. When they graduated from their American schools, their first acts upon returning home were often killing women and children in sadistic fashion. Here is an example of the kinds of activities engaged in by America-trained El Salvadoran soldiers, used to keep the population terrorized, written by human rights activist and Catholic priest Daniel Santiago,

"People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador - they are decapitated and their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones and their parents are forced to watch…The aesthetics of terror in El Salvador is religious."[15]

Santiago reported the story of a peasant woman returning home to find her family seated around the kitchen table. Sitting around the table was her mother, sister and three children. Placed on the table in front of each of them were their decapitated heads. Their hands were placed on their heads, as if each body was stroking its own head. The El Salvadoran National Guardsmen who created that artistic tableau found it difficult for the youngest actor in the scene, an eighteen-month-old baby, to keep its hands on its head, so they nailed its hands onto its head. Completing the scene, in the center of the table was a large plastic bowl, filled with blood.[16] Many Americans wonder how people such as Jeffrey Dahmer walk the earth. America trains them.

Dan Mitrione, a CIA man and boyhood friend of James Jones of Jonestown fame, was a torture specialist. He considered torture an art form. Mitrione's motto was "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." Mitrione was a true torture professional, stating, "A premature death means a failure by the technician…It's important to know in advance if we can permit ourselves the luxury of the subject's death." Mitrione taught his Uruguayan pupils how to refine the art of torture. ...

The satanic atrocities committed against its citizens were merely days at the office for the El Salvadoran security forces. Father Ignacio Martín-Baró was one of six Jesuit priests murdered in an El Salvadoran massacre in 1989, which finally spurred the U.S. media to take a deeper look into El Salvador’s "fledgling democracy," after nearly a decade of Reagan-inspired butchery. A few months before he was murdered, Martín-Baró gave a talk in California regarding "The Psychological Consequences of Political Terrorism." His first point was that the most significant terrorism is that inflicted by the state onto its domestic population. His second point was that terror's purpose was serving the elite needs of that nation, as the terror is part of a "government-imposed sociopolitical project." His third point was briefly addressed, but Chomsky said it was the most important one for his Californian audience, which was:

"The sociopolitical project and the state terrorism that helps to implement it are not specific to El Salvador, but are common features of the Third World domains of the United States, for reasons deeply rooted in Western culture, institutions, and policy planning, and fully in accord with the values of enlightened opinion. These crucial factors explain much more than the fate of El Salvador."[18]

About 75,000 civilians died during El Salvador’s reign of terror. In Guatemala, the reign of terror began in 1954 when the U.S. and CIA overthrew their democratic government on behalf of the company that brings us Chiquita bananas. The Guatemalan death toll is about 200,000 people, and the killing escalated in the 1980s. The same kinds of atrocities found in El Salvador could be seen in Guatemala, with the soldiers being trained in the United States, using U.S. weapons, with money and arms flowing from U.S. coffers.

While the butchery was happening in El Salvador and Guatemala, one Central American nation finally overthrew the U.S.-sponsored butchers. In 1979 in Nicaragua, the Sandinista revolution overthrew the Somoza regime, which was a brutal dictatorship that the United States propped up for generations. As with any military revolution, there are no choirboys on either side. What happened in Nicaragua was the closest that any Central American nation had ever come to democracy. The Sandinistas have some things to answer for, such as their treatment of the natives of the Miskitia region, but the Sandinistas' great crime was the same crime Castro committed. It was the same crime that Arbenz of Guatemala, Allende of Chile and Torrijos of Panama committed. Their crime was that committing themselves to the welfare of their nation's average people. They committed themselves to succoring the poor. They embarked on creating a society that took care of everybody, where the people would share and share alike. They took the rhetoric of America’s Founding Fathers seriously, and believed that all people were created equal and deserved equal opportunity and a minimum standard of comfort.

Those who wish to challenge that characterization of those Latin American leaders are encouraged to study the parallels of those leaders, what they strove for, what they succeeded at, and what the U.S. position was towards them. U.S. rhetoric always accused them of being communist and inferred they were Soviet pawns, but in looking at the early days of each movement, they obviously had no relationship to the Soviet Union, and even their ideological links were tenuous. Arbenz was a fan of Franklin Roosevelt and consciously tried structuring a New Deal-style economy. With that fifth media filter mentioned by Herman and Chomsky working, any notion a nation had of shedding the United States’ neocolonial yoke was rubber-stamped "communist," setting the stage for attacking and destroying the social movement. The U.S. goal was always putting the plutocratic elite back in charge in those nations, while the American business interests raped them, although the anticommunist "religion" sometimes even took precedence over that.

Allende was a committed Marxist, yet had no allegiance to the Soviet Union. As with virtually every other case of American hysteria over the Soviet threat, there is no credible evidence that the Soviet Union had anything to do with Allende's rise in Chile. ...

Herman and Chomsky compared the nature of Guatemalan, El Salvadoran and Nicaraguan (Sandinista) elections and how free they really were, based upon independent observation. They then compared that reality to how the American mainstream media portrayed them. In Guatemala and El Salvador, the elections were frauds. One reason was because the U.S.-backed dictatorships slaughtered the political opposition. Anybody who thought of running for office on any kind of humanitarian platform could expect a death squad visitation. Any media organization that dared criticize the dictatorships was wiped out. ... In light of the outside pressure that Nicaragua was under, its elections were arguably fairer than any elections the United States has ever held.

Herman and Chomsky painstakingly analyzed the mainstream media's accounts of those elections. The media continually painted the El Salvadoran and Guatemalan elections as paragons of fairness, and constantly attacked the Nicaraguan elections as shams. For three nations sitting along the same strip of land, with the situations so starkly different, the hypocrisy of the American press was spectacularly laid bare.


More Big Lies: History

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. - George Orwell, 1984.


There's a whole lot more to that essay, plenty preceding and a lot following what's excerpted, above. He's written plenty of rich essays.

this documentary film, it would be great to see it and "When the Mountains Tremble" in full. Maybe enough of the latter older film from 1982 or 1983 is included in Grantio, but I'd still like to see both in full, "just in case".


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