'Granito

How to Nail a Dictator' on PBS Starting 28 June

by Chris Barsanti

28 June 2012

 

With Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Pamela Yates returns to Guatemala, nearly 30 years after the release of her 1983 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble. Premiering on POV 28 June, the documentary begins with a section called “Chronicle Foretold,” delving into the case being built in a Madrid court (the same court that indicted Augusto Pinochet) against two of the generals charged with perpetrating a genocidal campaign against the Mayan people of Guatemala. Estimates have it that 200,000 Mayans were massacred during this war, by a government and military that claimed to be fighting communism, but was also consolidating power. When, in 2005, the extensive secret police archives are discovered by accident, the case seems to take a turn. Granito weaves together Yates’ involvement with the court case and two other narrative threads—the digging up of Mayan Disappeared’s remains and a rumination on Yates’ own naiveté concerning the ultimate effects of such excavations. At the same time, it makes a broader, frankly tragic point, that proof can’t always lead to justice.

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