GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemalan rapper Fernando Reynoso, known as Mr. Fer, was sued Monday before the special prosecutor’s office on discrimination and racism due to a joke he posted on Twitter about the genocide suffered by indigenous people here in the 1980s.
“Yes, there was Indiancide!” (“¡Sí hubo genosIndio!”) the artist wrote Sunday on his Twitter account, on the second anniversary of the sentencing of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt for the massacre of 1,771 Maya Ixil indigenous people between 1982 and 1983.
In Guatemala it is considered a racial insult to call the ethnic communities that make up close to 50 percent of the population “indians” instead of indigenous people.
Si hubo genosIndio!
— MR.FER (@MrFer_Gt) May 10, 2015
It’s a call “to racial hatred on social networks,” said María Gutiérrez, head of the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism against the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, CODISRA, when she pressed the charges.
Although the rapper tried to explain that it was a joke and said he’s not racist, the comment was criticized by Twitter users, CODISRA and Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman.
“We condemn the fact that an artist with influence on public opinion, such as Mr. Fer, would share comments promoting discrimination and racism,” the ombudsman’s office wrote on Twitter.
Guatemalans commemorated Sunday the day a national court sentenced the elderly former dictator Ríos Montt for genocide. Although the sentence was annulled, ostensibly because of procedural flaws, and a new trial was ordered, indigenous relatives of victims of the armed conflict say the ruling stands.
Ríos Montt’s de facto regime is considered one of the bloodiest in the civil war Guatemala lived through from 1960 to 1996. The war left more than 200,000 dead or missing, according to a U.N. report.
In April, radio commentator Julio Reyes was harshly criticized after publishing a derogatory message on his Twitter account against indigenous athlete Érick Barrondo, Guatemala’s walker and only Olympic medalist. Reyes issued a public apology to Barrondo after the incident.