An investigative report issued by the Electronic Intifada recalls the well-documented but completely overlooked role of Israel in the Guatemalan dirty war of the 1980s.
Israel reportedly provided military training to dictator Rios Montt's troops, which the general confessed to an ABC News reporter, saying that his regime takeover went so smoothly “because many of our soldiers were trained by Israelis.”
Other accounts evoke the economic benefits for Israel, who had an estimated 300 Israeli advisers in Guatemala at the time. According to the book titled, “Dangerous Liaison, ”by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Lieutenant Colonel Amatzia Shuali said, “I don’t care what the Gentiles do with the arms. The main thing is that the Jews profit,”
Israel saw an opportunity to make money out of the war when the Jimmy Carter administration in the U.S. restricted the country's military aid after there was an outcry of criticism about human rights abuses.
The report by Gabriel Schivone quotes Yaakov Meridor, then Israeli minister of economy, “We will say to the Americans: Don’t compete with us in Taiwan; don’t compete with us in South Africa; don’t compete with us in the Caribbean or in other places where you cannot sell arms directly. Let us do it … Israel will be your intermediary.”
“Military cooperation between Israel and Guatemala has been traced back to the 1960s,” added the investigation. “By the time Rios Montt’s came to power, Israel had become Guatemala’s main provider of weapons, military training, surveillance technology and other vital assistance in the state’s war on urban leftists and rural indigenous Mayans,” the report added.