"The American military had a close relationship with the Guatemalan military well into the 1970s before President Jimmy Carter’s administration cut off aid. When General Ríos Montt seized power in March 1982, President Ronald Reagan’s administration cultivated him as a reliable Central American ally in its battle against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and Salvadoran guerrillas."
"By the end of 1982, however, the State Department had gathered evidence that the army was behind the massacres.
But even then, the administration insisted that General Ríos Montt was working to reduce the violence. After a regional meeting, President Reagan described him as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.”