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Home Facts SOA/WHINSEC Graduates U.S. Congressman Marries Ex-Dictator's Daughter
U.S. Congressman Marries Ex-Dictator's Daughter PDF Print E-mail
Facts
Tuesday, 23 November 2004 00:00
ANTIGUA, Guatemala, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A U.S congressman married the daughter of Guatemala's most notorious former dictator on Saturday in a controversial wedding that took place in a high-walled compound ringed with razor wire.

Illinois Rep. Jerry Weller tied the knot with Guatemalan lawmaker Zury Rios Sosa in the compound, just off a dusty road between a building site and a volcano near Guatemala's colonial capital Antigua.

The couple, who met while Weller was on a visit to Guatemala, married in a civil ceremony attended by Guatemalan military, politicians and the U.S ambassador to the Central American nation, John Hamilton.

Weller was re-elected in November despite questions from his opponent about his choice of fiancee and a possible conflict of interest with some of his government posts.

He serves on the U.S. House of Representatives sub-committee for Western Hemisphere Affairs that sometimes sees legislation concerning Guatemala.

"At the very least he should resign from the committee, it's a potentially compromising relationship, in terms of his foreign affairs activity," said Patricia Davis, of the Washington based rights group, the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission.

Rios Sosa's father Efrain Rios Montt took power in a 1982 coup at the peak of Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which pitted the army against leftist insurgents.

She is a high ranking member of her father's Guatemalan Republican Front party, which held the presidency between 2000-2004, and is seen as a possible future presidential candidate herself.

The retired general's de facto presidency is remembered for his weekly sermons broadcast live on television and for a "scorched earth" campaign that killed thousands of mostly civilian Mayan Indians.

The U.S. State Department has described Rios Montt's rule as "probably the most violent period" of the war, in which around 200,000 people were killed or disappeared. Rios Montt is under investigation for genocide charges.

At the time of the coup, Rios Montt was a pastor with the evangelical church "Verbo," a born-again Christian mission with roots in the Californian hippie movement, Jesus People.

After the ceremony, Rios Montt extolled the virtues of marriage. "Matrimony is like a glorious, unblemished church," he said.

Rios Montt was obliged to ask the permission of a judge to attend the wedding.

The strongman, now in his late 70s, is legally barred from leaving Guatemala City while he is investigated for his role in violent protests held to support his candidacy during 2003 presidential elections.

Because of his past, he was originally banned from running for president. A court reversed that decision and allowed him to run, but he was defeated in the elections last year by President Oscar Berger.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2004 10:29
 

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