José Efraín Ríos Montt (Spanish pronunciation:
[efɾaˈin ˈri.os ˈmont]; born June 16, 1926)
 is a
Guatemalan career military officer and politician; he served as
President of Guatemala from 1982 to 1983. He was an
army general during his time in office, following a
coup d'état in 1982. His military government practiced large-scale violations of human rights and spread counter-insurgency terror among the peasantry. It constituted a brief, but terrible episode in the
Guatemalan Civil War, which lasted until 1996.
A general in the
Guatemalan Army, Ríos Montt came to public office through a
coup d'état on March 23, 1982. He was overthrown by his Defense Minister,
Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores, in another coup d'état on August 8, 1983. In the
2003 presidential elections, Ríos Mont unsuccessfully ran as the candidate of the
Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). In 2007 Ríos Montt returned to public office as a member of Congress, gaining
prosecutorial immunity. He was protected from a pair of long-running lawsuits alleging
war crimes against him and a number of his former ministers and counselors during their term in the presidential palace in 1982–83.
 His immunity ended on January 14, 2012, when his term in office ended. On January 26, 2012, Ríos Montt appeared in court in Guatemala and was formally indicted for
genocide and crimes against humanity.
Huehuetenango, Ríos Montt is one of the most controversial figures in Guatemala. Two
Truth Commissions, the REMHI report, sponsored by the
Roman Catholic Church, and the CEH report, conducted by the United Nations as part of the 1996 Accords of Firm and Durable Peace, documented widespread human rights abuses committed by Ríos Montt's military regime. These included widespread
torture against the
indigenous population in what has been called a
Guatemalan genocide. Ríos Montt say there was no government-ordered genocide, and that abuses were the result of a long, violent civil war.
 At the time Ríos Montt had close ties to the United States, receiving direct and indirect support from several of its agencies, including the
Ríos Montt is best known outside Guatemala for being tried for heading a
military regime (1982–1983). It was held accountable for defeating the
guerrillas through what was known as the "guns and beans" campaign, telling the people "If you are with us, we’ll feed you, if not, we’ll kill you."
Guatemala's 36-year civil war ended with the signing of a peace treaty in 1996. The civil war pitted
rebels against the Guatemalan state, including the
army. Huge numbers of civilians, both indigenous
Ladinos, were caught in the crossfire. Up to 200,000 Guatemalans were killed and declared missing during the long conflict, making it one of Latin America's most violent wars in modern history.
Indigenous Mayas suffered disproportionately during Ríos Montt's rule, and it is documented that his government deliberately targeted thousands of indigenous people since many were suspected of harboring sympathies for, supporting, or participating in the guerrilla movement. Under the
Cold War-era strategy of
containment the Guatemalan state sought to eliminate the spread of Communism inside its borders. The UN-backed
Historical Clarification Commission found that the resulting counterinsurgency campaign, significantly designed and advanced during Ríos Montt's presidency, included deliberate "acts of
genocide" against the indigenous population.
On 28 January 2013, judge Miguel Angel Galves opened a
pre-trial hearing against Ríos Montt and retired General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez for
crimes against humanity, in particular the killings of 1,771 Maya Ixil Indians in 1982 and 83, including children.
 On 10 May 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment.
 On 20 May 2013, the
Constitutional Court of Guatemala overturned the conviction.
 His retrial began January 2015.
 A Guatemalan court has ruled he can stand trial for genocide and crimes against humanity, but he cannot be sentenced due to his age and deteriorating health conditions.