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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
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

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

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

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.


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